Cover photo for Wilma Atwood Donhowe's Obituary
Wilma Atwood Donhowe Profile Photo
1952 Wilma 2015

Wilma Atwood Donhowe

February 4, 1952 — October 12, 2015

Wilma May Atwood Donhowe, 63, died October 12, 2015 at her daughter's home in Grimes, Iowa. She was born February 4, 1952 in Sigourney, Iowa to Arley Ellsworth and Marie Lucille Dyson Atwood. She graduated from Sigourney High School in 1970. This is how she described her life:

"After graduating high school, I set out on an adventure to seek fame and fortune in Omaha with Carol Hammes till we, a few weeks later, parted ways; and I ended up staying with my oldest sister in Cedar Rapids. I worked there at Wilson-Sinclair as a messenger and part time at Shakey's Pizza for two years until I had saved up enough money to send myself to college. I graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Applied Art Interior Design in 1977. I worked in the field of interior design for about 20 years with stints at J.C. Penney, Younkers, Sears, Burgin Drapery Workroom, and my own business. After my daughter was born in 1985, my priorities shifted from being a career woman to being a mom, and years of sewing in 4-H provided me an interest in the construction end of the business. I hoped to hone a skill that would enable me to have my own business so I could set my own hours in order to better care for my daughter. To this end, I was employed by Burgin Drapery Workroom for many years. I began my own business, Ambience Design, by doing work for designers "on the side" of my full-time job. I had my own business for many years. My work hung in the Iowa Legislature, the governor's bedroom, the Memorial Union and the Farm House Museum at Iowa State, and even appeared in the movie, The Bridges of Madison County. In jobs that I obtained, I would design and construct an interior, rendering a complete service. After having a business full-time for a few years, I tired of the long hours, deciding that the illusion of being my own boss was exactly that - an illusion - because the customer was still always the boss. I returned to Sears as a custom decorator until the company closed their custom decorating department a couple of years later. Since children were my newfound love, I began working part-time in the childcare/teaching field - which I continued for about ten years. The rest of my time was spent tinkering outside in my gardens. After accumulating so many plants in my yard, I thought it might be good to gain some expertise on the subject because my yard was starting to look a little cluttered. I was working toward degrees in Childhood Education and Landscape Design, and was only a couple of classes shy of my degrees, when I decided to drop them to fight my disease."

Wilma was preceded in death by her parents and her sister-in-law Cindy Atwood.

She is survived by her husband Eric, her daughter Elyse (Max) Scott of Grimes, four sisters Neda Spiegel of Sigourney, Nadine Vance of Melrose, Gwen Etter of Sigourney, Sharon Fritchen of Ollie and one brother Duane Atwood of Sigourney.

Funeral Service: Friday 3:00 p.m. at the English River Church of the Brethren, South English

Visitation: Friday 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at the church

Burial: English River Church of the Brethren Cemetery

A memorial fund has been established

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Wilma Atwood Donhowe, please visit our flower store.


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