Ronald Allen Lethem was born to Faye Marie (Gifford) and Walter Roy Lethem Sr. on Oct. 27, 1926, in Walnut, Iowa. He was the fifth of six children. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Maryville, Mo. There, he graduated from high school and attended college. In 1946 Ron entered the Army Signal Corps and served as a basic training TS (Battlefield Field Communications) Instructor. After being honorably discharged, he entered the retail business and spent the next 25 years managing and supervising department stores in Iowa and Wisconsin for the C.R. Anthony Company. As a result of Ron's many promotions, he and his family eventually settled in Manchester, Iowa. During this time, he was a member of the Lions Club and active in Chamber of Commerce work, receiving various awards for his contributions to downtown renovation projects. After raising their family, Ron and Ruth moved to Prairie DuChien, Wisconsin, where he managed his last C. R. Anthony store. Upon retiring from the retail business, Ron studied for and obtained a Real Estate Brokers license. He worked for Century 21 Realty in Prairie and again found success. Finally, Ron retired fully to devote himself to his most cherished career—that of Grandpa. Ron enjoyed frequent visits from family which were spent fishing and boating on the Mississippi River. There and through 12 years in Bella Vista, Ark., he enjoyed flower gardening and amateur photography, specializing in wild flowers and grandkids. Ron had many showings of his works and won several awards. He will also be remembered by his family for his sincere—often humorous—letters and poetry. Ron and Ruth returned to Iowa in 2014 when they moved to Marion. Ron passed away at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Dec. 7, 2016, surrounded by his family. Ron married Ruth Eleanor Lacina in 1948 in Rockwell City, Iowa. They raised four wonderful children: Carolyn Schram (Ames, Iowa), Marsha Mitchell (Mineral Point, Wis.), Richard Lethem (Marion, Iowa), and David Lethem (Ft. Myers, Fla). Ron and Ruth have 32 beautiful grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and they never missed a chance to share pictures and stories of each of them. Ron served his country proudly, achieved success in business, and celebrated beauty in the world through the lens of a camera, but his greatest source of pride was the fact that all his children grew up to be great parents and gave him so many wonderful grandchildren. Those Ron is survived by include his beloved wife of 68 years, Ruth; three children, Carolyn, Marsha, and David; and his younger brother Richard Brown Lethem of Maine. Ron's ashes will be taken to Veteran's Memorial Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa, with a service to be held on April 28, 2017, at 2 p.m. A luncheon will follow at the United Methodist Church in Adel, Iowa. This great man's life and legacy (and some advice worth heeding) may best be summed up in his own words—the last few lines of one of his much-loved handwritten poems, "An Old Man's Life": "My family grew from the original four I haven't counted lately but there must be thirty or more So look after and take care of your kids you see And someday you may be a lucky old man just like me." ~R. A. Lethem.
Published April 23, 2017