IRIS MAE FODNESS was born to Henry and Elsie (Haveman) Helmke on August 24, 1929 on the Helmke family farm near Lake Wilson, Minnesota. She attended Cameron Township Country School in Murray County and then Lake Wilson High School, where she was accredited Valedictorian of the graduating class of 1947. She furthered her education and attained her Minnesota Teachers Training certification in Lamberton, Minnesota. She went on to teach in a one room school house in Cameron Township for one year. During this time, Iris met the love of her life, Berdeen “Bud” Fodness in Pipestone, Minnesota, while at the Playmor Dance Hall on St. Patrick’s Day in 1949. The couple was united in marriage on August 22, 1950 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lake Wilson. The newlyweds began their life together on an acreage northwest of Kenneth, Minnesota. At the time the land was a bare canvas where they then built their home, planted numerous trees and were blessed with five children. In August 1968, Bud died suddenly as the result of a vehicle train accident. Iris worked for a time as a Nurses’ Aid at the Mary Jane Brown Home in Luverne and lived various places, including Luverne, Worthington and Hills, Minnesota, before becoming a resident at the Tuff Memorial Home in Hills, Minnesota. Here she took on the role of greeter at the cafeteria, volunteered her services as the front door security monitor and was given the nickname of “Bubbles”. On Thursday, October 31, 2019 while at the Sanford Luverne Hospital, Iris went to be with her Lord at the age of 90 years, two months and seven days.
Iris was a member of the Blue Mound Lutheran Church near Luverne, Minnesota until its closing. She then became a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Luverne. In her time with the church, Iris belonged to Ladies Aid and enjoyed helping with numerous aspects of the church. She loved entertaining in her home and enjoyed card club, dancing, traveling and writing poetry. In her later years, she enjoyed bingo, rocking in her rocking chair, listening to the radio and visiting with others. She was always happy and gracious to everyone. Iris’ greatest love was for her children and grandchildren.
Iris is survived by her children, Deborah (Steven) Skyberg of Frazee, Minnesota, Dwight Fodness (Patricia Grayson) of Sheridan, Oregon, Dawn DeGrote of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Lauret (Dan) Haupert of Lake Wilson, Minnesota and Cindy (Mark) Lanars of Kasota, Minnesota; seven grandchildren, Scott Skyberg, Sara (Gabe) Ward, Derek (Jessica) DeGrote, Crystal (Joe) Heppe, David Haupert (Morgan Hirth), Travis (Kathleen) Haupert and Kayla (Nic) Harenza; 15 great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Patricia Helmke of Omaha, Nebraska; and other relatives. She was preceded in death by her husband, Berdeen “Bud” Fodness; son-in-law, Eldon DeGrote; parents; sister, Eileen Isbrands; and brother, Roy Helmke.
Memorial donations may be directed to the Tuff Memorial Home in Hills or Grace Lutheran Church in Luverne.