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Gertrude Janssen

Gertrude Janssen, 94, a longtime resident of Tiffin, died Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City.
She was born Gertrude Rosalia Gau, Feb. 9, 1920, in Geddes, South Dakota, the daughter of Chrysant and Anna (Breidenbach) Gau. Her parents were farmers, and as a teenager she worked outside the home, earning money for the household. Hard work would come to define her life. She married Alden Alton Janssen on Sept. 21, 1940, in Valentine, Nebraska, and farmed alongside him in the Persia and Storm Lake areas, where they started their family. In 1951, they moved to Tiffin to be closer to the Hospital School at the University of Iowa, to access treatment and special care for their eldest son, Bob. To make ends meet, she took a job as one of the first operating room technicians working in the Orthopedic and General Surgery Departments at the University of Iowa Hospital.
For 40 years she worked inside and outside the home, while raising a family of four. She lost her beloved husband Alden in 1980, but continued to serve as the hub of their growing extended family. She cherished the opportunity to host family gatherings in her home, and made friends and relatives alike feel welcome and special, putting their needs ahead of her own. For decades, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations seemed incomplete without a family visit to grandma Gert’s house. In the days before these gatherings, her home was inevitably filled with the smells of fresh baked bread, multiple varieties of home-made pies, and desserts that became family favorites. When meals were served, only under pressure from her family would she finally sit at the table and relax, to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
Family was at the center of Gert’s life. She was a strong, independent woman, but was also a loving and loyal matriarch to her four children, seven grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. She cared for Bob in the home she and Alden built, well into her 80s, until Bob’s passing in 2012. She was a stoic and stabilizing force who seemed ageless and vibrant beyond her years.
Her family includes her children: Roger Janssen of Tiffin; Linda (Jim) Croy, of Solon; and Rick (Jan) Janssen of Tiffin; grandchildren, David (Kristin) Janssen, Nikki Croy, Jill (Mark) Westcott; Heath Janssen, Josh (Becca) Janssen, Jenna Janssen (Michael Hull), and Amber Janssen; and great-grandchildren, Michael, Nicholas and Benjamin Janssen; Connor Westcott, Mason and Paden Janssen, Cynthia and Lianna Hull; and Rosalia Rae; as well as her sister, Veronica Pauley.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, and son, Robert “Bob” Janssen, as well as her sister, Mildred Kirschbaum, and brother, Joe Gau.
Gert was a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Iowa City, and active participant with the Tiffin Methodist Church. Funeral services were held Monday, Dec. 1, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Iowa City with the Reverend John Spiegel officiating. Burial was at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Tiffin. To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Kristin (Ness) Schwickerath please visit lensingfuneralhome.com.