Josephine McMullen Bierbaum

Honored by:Elmer and Elizabeth (Holl) Bierbaum
Brick location:PAVER:32  map

Josephine McMullen Bierbaum 5/27/03 - 4/13/90

Menema Josephine McMullen was born May 27, 1903, in Forrest, Illinois, the daughter of George A. and Gertrude C. McMullen. She grew up in Webb, Iowa, in a large family of seven children, three brothers and three sisters. Josephine graduated valedictorian of her high school class. She and her two younger sisters were able to attend college by alternating college semesters as they shared not only the need to earn tuition money, but also the college wardrobe. They took turns working and going to school. All three graduated.

Josephine attended Iowa State College at Ames, where she graduated in 1926 with a B.S. degree in Home Economics. She was a member of five honorary societies: Omicron Nu, Kappa Phi, Theta Sigma Phi, Jack O'Lantern, and Phi Upsilon Omicron. She was also a member of Sigma Kappa social sorority.

After college, Josephine taught high school Home Economics in Cherokee, Iowa. She then resided in Des Moines for two years, where she was Supervisor of Home Economics Education for the State of Iowa under the Smith Hughes Act. On September 14, 1930, she was married to Elmer O. Bierbaum, a 1924 Iowa State College graduate, in the Little Brown Church in Garnavillo, Iowa.

The couple made their home in Cherokee, and Josephine entered the career of homemaker and mother. At the center of her life was her family. She loved and supported her husband and children in all their endeavors. Her three children, Mary Jo Bierbaum Ellis of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Benjamin Bierbaum of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and Jerome Bierbaum of Bronxville, New York, not only graduated from Iowa State, but graduated with honors and distinction. She was always proud of her Iowa State connections. She continued to support Iowa State financially, and by returning for many reunions and events.

Josephine used her Home Economics background in living her daily life and as a teacher and supervisor. She was always aware of nutrition in balanced menus and how the food was prepared, as well as its presentation on the plate. She grew her own fruits and vegetables and preserved them. She was continually learning new ways and new products. Her sewing skills carried over to not only the construction of new garments, but also to mending and alteration. Her lessons in child care were at the heart of raising her children, and those in teaching the scouts and church school children.

Her artistic flair was evident in her gardens and floral arrangements. She was a member of the Garden Club, and a past president and fifty year member of P.E.O. Her special love was that of writing. She was a member of the Cherokee Writer's Club and attended courses through Elderhostel in later life. She could always see something special in life around her and loved to share it with others. Her literary accomplishments were in writing for her husband's life insurance company, numerous articles for the newspaper, short stories, and family memories. Her letters to her family were many and full of love humor and news.

Josephine will be remembered as a gracious friend to all who knew her and as one filled with empathy and love for others. She set high standards for those around her, but no higher than she herself strived to maintain. She was there to help and as an example to us all. Her memory is cherished by her friends, husband, children, and grandchildren.


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