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Ellen L. Kuennen, 82

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Ellen L. Kuennen, age 82 of Iowa City, passed away at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics on Thursday, March 21, 2024, surrounded by her family.  She had a long journey with multiple sclerosis and more recently with cancer.

Ellen was born to Leo and Margaret (Hackman) Reihle on June 26, 1941, in New Hampton.

She grew up in Lawler, Iowa with her sisters and brother. She graduated from Lawler High School, went to a lab technician school in Minnesota and then worked as a lab technician at the New Hampton Medical Center. She also studied at Mount Mercy College.

Ellen married Adrian Kuennen on July 28, 1962.  They began their life together in New Hampton and then moved to Iowa City a few years later.  

While raising their children, she completed her bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Iowa. 

Ellen worked for the Visiting Nurse Association in Iowa City until her retirement.

Ellen was a voracious reader. Among many others, she enjoyed books by Mary Higgins Clark. She had a gift for finding good books like “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich and “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen. 

Ellen was exceptional at crosswords and a tough competitor while watching Jeopardy. 

Her favorite music ranged from Billy Joel to Yo-Yo Ma and Charlie Harper was a favorite artist. 

She was also an avid sports fan and played 6-on-6 basketball in high school.  Ellen loved watching the grandchildren play baseball in the backyard (Grandpa would mow the lawn into a baseball field) and never missed an episode of “Pardon the Interruption”

Spring traditions were to hang strawberry plants and watch for hummingbirds and blooming irises. A most memorable trip was to Ireland with Adrian, her brother-in-law Cy and his wife Judy.

Ellen is survived by her husband, Adrian; children, Anne (Todd) Blindt, Sue (Garry) Lenig, Michael (Sara) Kuennen, Jill (Chris Schwarz) Kuennen Schwarz and Tom (Stephanie) Kuennen; her siblings, Ann (Ed) Conway, Linda Schaefer and Jeff (and Sherri) Reihle; and brother-in-law, Dennis Stolz.

She loved and adored her grandchildren, John, Gabby, Cassie, Nathan, Ashley, Andrew and Cole; and her great-grandchildren, Harper, Corbin, Lucy, Frankie, Leo, and another due in July.

Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Margaret Reihle; and her sisters, Carol (Ron) Griffith, and Laura Stolz.

A visitation followed by funeral mass will take place on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Iowa City. The visitation will be from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. Mass will begin at 1:30 p.m. with Father Troy Richmond presiding.

Burial will follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center or the National Society for Multiple Sclerosis.

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