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Carolyn Kacena, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away August 16, 2023. Born on a farm in Riverside, Iowa on November 30, 1932, Carolyn was the third of the four children of Ray and Mildred (Means) Marner. The family moved to a farm outside of Iowa City, IA, where Carolyn’s education began in a one-room schoolhouse for grades one through eight.
Carolyn, at the age of 14, went to live and work at the home of Dr. Lew and Mrs. Eliose January in order to attend Iowa City High School. Graduating from high school in 1950, she continued her education at the University of Iowa where she received, in 1954, her BSN. Carolyn started her nursing career at the University of Iowa and years later she was proud to participate in the pinning ceremonies of two of her granddaughters who also obtained nursing degrees.
On September 18, 1954, Carolyn married James Lee Kacena. The couple were married for 53 years until Jim’s death in 2008. Together they had five children. With the purchase of a John Deere dealership near Mediapolis, IA the family moved to Burlington in 1974 where Carolyn worked in the family business. After selling their dealership Carolyn remained active with other business ventures.
Upon her semi-retirement she found time to join organizations that reflect her interest in women and girls advancement through education and training, the arts, reading, and music. She hit it hard joining T.T.T., Questers, PEO-Chapter NI, Soroptimist, League of Women Voters, Foster Care Review Board, Friends of the Library and the Southeast Iowa Symphony.
Carolyn relished practicing yoga and going on quests to find Flow Blue China and flower frogs. One of her greatest pleasures was playing Bridge and she was killer at it! She was a voracious reader and influenced her five children and husband to all relish a good book. Her enjoyment of travel helped fulfill her sense of adventure and curious spirit.
Grandchildren spent many cherished days at Jim and Carolyns’ home in the country, playing in the woods, riding bikes on the gravel roads, fishing, swimming and having tea parties. Spending time with grandma also meant many trips to the public library, Starr’s Cave, and other educational field trips. Grandma credited her yoga practice with enabling her participation in family paintball games and doing some cave crawling.
Carolyn will be greatly missed by her family: David(Sandy) Kacena of Iowa City, IA; Christopher(Shawn) Kacena of North Little Rock, AR; Kathryn (Lorry) Lazenby of Joplin, MO; Cynthia(C. Lynn) Cavett of Macomb, IL; and Jennifer (Randy) Frice of Burlington. Grandchildren: Amy (Chad)Bollinger; Ashton Kacena; Abby Kacena (Randy Flint); Cameron(Haley) Kacena; Jacob Kacena; Nicholas Kacena; Hannah Neenan; John (Alena)Lazenby; Rachel (Patrick)Brennan; Max Cavett (Annelise Tarnowski); and Jack(Caitlin) Cavett; one step-grandson, Blake (Amanda) Shadell and twelve great grandchildren with one on the way. Survivors also include three sister-in laws: Carol Marner, Betty Kacena, and Karen Diltz and one brother-in-law, Richard Emmert and many nieces and nephews.
Carolyn was preceded in death by her parents, husband and three siblings: Gene Marner, William Marner, Marilyn Emmert; brothers-in-law: Bob Kacena, Stan Kacena and Tom Diltz and sisters-in-law, Bernice Marner and Carole Kacena and grandson Nathaniel Lazenby.
Cremation has been entrusted to the care of Prugh Crematory.
Visitation will be from 12:00 PM until 7:00 PM with the family to receive friends from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM Thursday, August 24, 2023 at Prugh Funeral Service, 3940 Division Street.
The memorial service for Mrs. Kacena will be 11:00 AM Friday, August 25, 2023, at Prugh Funeral Service, 3940 Division Street. Burial will be in Memory Gardens Cemetery (Iowa City) at a later date.
Special thanks to Carolyn’s daughter Jennifer (Kacena) Frice for being a wonderful and caring advocate for her mother’s health and well-being. Also, thanks to Jennifer’s husband, Randy Frice, for his support and helpfulness in Carolyn’s later years.
Even as Carolyn suffered from the effects of Dementia, she still retained her sense of humor, her feisty attitude and her delight in some tasty food. This gentle, loving, nurturing and wonderful woman has left a permanent mark etched on our hearts and will be supremely missed by her children. She will be forever remembered for beautiful smile, caring heart, unconditional love, and positive attitude.
Memorial gifts can be made to the Burlington Public Library. Many thanks to the staff at Addington Place for their care and attention during Mom’s final days. The family is also grateful to Southeast Iowa Regional Home Health and Hospice for their compassion, competence and respect.