Anna Catharine Roberts Woolson, age 86, passed away Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at The Village in Indianola, Iowa.
Anna was born to Walter Edwin and Esther Rebecca (Batt) Roberts on March 3rd, 1936 on a small farm in Worth County, Missouri operated by her father. She spent her early years on this farm until 1946, when the family purchased a farm north of Grant City, Missouri.
From a young age, it was obvious that Anna had a musical gift. With her love of and dedication to music, and the guidance of incredible teachers, she became an accomplished pianist. She graduated from Grant City High in 1954 before attending Northwest Missouri State University, where she earned a Bachelor of
Arts in Music Education. She would go on to earn a Master’s of Music Education from Kansas University and earn additional graduate credits from several colleges, including Drake University, the University of Nebraska, and Iowa State University.
It was at NWMSU that she met her husband, Delbert Smith. They were married in 1958 and lived in Hopkins, Missouri where they both taught until Delbert took a teaching job at the Clarinda, Iowa high school. They moved into a house on the corner of 16th and Clark Streets in Clarinda – the house that is now the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum.
Anna and Delbert had two children, Cathy and Mike, who gave her much joy and more than her share of worry for more than six decades. Her marriage to Delbert
ended in divorce in 1988.
In 1999, Anna married John Woolson. They combined their households in Clarinda, where they lived until they moved to The Village in Indianola, Iowa in 2014.
Anna and John enjoyed many years of travel and activities. As Anna’s health declined in recent years and John took on the role of primary caregiver, they faced each new challenge together and their devotion to each other only deepened.
For many years, Anna taught piano and music appreciation at Iowa Western Community College. She also taught private lessons to many young musicians who filled her home with hours of beautiful melodies and only a few moments of nerve-grating wrong notes.
She was immensely proud of the considerable number of her students who went on to become professional musicians, but was equally proud of those who made music an important, but unpaid, part of their lives.
In 1978, she changed professions and entered the world of urban development.
For the next 23 years, she worked for non-profits, the City of Des Moines and the State of Iowa to solve problems of affordable housing and urban revitalization.
She served as President of the Iowa chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials; she was the first woman to hold the position.
Anna had many interests beyond the piano. She was a voracious and quick reader. She earned her private pilot’s license and frequently flew the family’s single-prop Cessna to commute between Clarinda and Des Moines.
She believed that everyone has a responsibility to work for the improvement of our community, and she put her beliefs into action through service: as the first female member of the Clarinda City Council, as a Stephen Minister through Plymouth Church in Des Moines, and as a Board Member of Southwest Iowa Families.
She is preceded in death by her parents and by a brother, Carl Edwin Roberts.
Cherishing her memory are her beloved husband, John, her children, Cathy (Brian) Almquist of Goose Creek, South Carolina, and Mike (Catharina) Smith of Sintra, Portugal. Her grandchildren are Benjamin (Jessica) Almquist of
Summerville, South Carolina, Derek Almquist of Goose Creek, South Carolina, Brandon Almquist of Augusta, Georgia, Lexi (Derek) Dunster of Kansas City, Missouri, Gage (Lexi) Smith of Bend, Oregon, Hali Smith of Bend, Oregon, and David Smith of Sintra, Portugal.
Anna’s three great-grandchildren are Presley, Ryan and Kade Dunster. She is also survived by her brother Ed (Gail) Roberts of Harrisonville, Missouri, nephew Jeff Roberts of Kansas City, Missouri, niece Melissa (Scott) Potter of Lenexa, Kansas, and John’s children, Randy (Belinda) Woolson of Mount Juliet, Tennessee, Anne Woolson (Sean) Quinlan of Savage, Minnesota, and Paul (Jenn) Woolson of Madison, Wisconsin.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you honor whatever Anna’s legacy is for you personally. If she helped fill your life with music, we suggest donations to the National Association for Music Education. If she modeled improving a community through service, we suggest donations to Southwest Iowa Families. If she demonstrated the importance of kindness, grace and dignity in the midst of challenges, we suggest a donation to WesleyLife Hospice Fund.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, October 1, 2022 at the Heritage Room at The Village in Indianola. 1203 North E Street, Indianola, IA 50125.
The family will receive visitors Saturday, October 15, 2022 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Nodaway Valley Funeral Home, 222 E. Washington Street, Clarinda, IA 51632. Interment will be held at 3:30 p.m. at the Clarinda Cemetery, 1200 North 16th Street, Clarinda, IA 51632.