Kathleen Todd

Departed on Feb 28, 2024

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Kathleen Marie Barry Todd passed away February 28, 2024 peacefully, surrounded by family and her wonderful caregivers at Primrose Retirement Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. 

Kathleen Todd was born over 101 years ago to Mathew and Elizabeth Barry, an Irish Catholic family, on their farm outside Van Horne, Iowa.  She was the only girl in the family with 4 older brothers. The values that drove her throughout life: service, faith, hard work and leadership were instilled in that family/community environment.  She attended a one room country school in which one of her teachers was her older brother, Percy, through 8th grade and then went on to high school in Van Horne, riding one of the family horses the 3 miles to town each day. Kathleen was bright and energetic and decided to go on to college where she got her nursing degree at St Teresa’s College in Winona, Minnesota, doing her clinical training in Rochester at the hospital associated with the Mayo clinic. When she graduated in 1943, WWII was raging on all fronts, and she joined the Navy to serve as a nurse for returning injured sailors. Ensign Barry was assigned to the naval hospital in Farragut, Idaho until the end of the war. At that hospital she met one of those injured sailors, Chief Petty Officer Gene Todd. They fell in love and were married upon discharge. Their union would produce seven children and thrive for 67 years until Gene died in 2013. 

Kathleen was a unique person as all who knew her will attest. She had an innate dedication to family, church and community. Living for nearly 57 years in Cedar Rapids, she became a leader in nearly every organization she touched from her home parish, All Saints, to nursing and teaching at Mercy Hospital, to women’s business associations, to religious movements such as Cursillo and Ecumenicism, to civic charities like Green Square, to peace and life management at the Prairiewoods Spirituality Center and many others.  Kathleen was not someone who just joined organizations; she was someone who actualized them. One example of this was her time on the All Saints parish council, a group which provided support and direction for the various local parish activities. Kathleen decided that the parish should reach out beyond the confines of local activities. She founded a relationship with a remote sister parish in the mountains of Haiti, providing much needed financial support but also taking teams from Cedar Rapids down to Haiti to lend physical and moral support.  This kind of change making was something that she did all her life, a combination of direction setting, leadership and hands on hard work to make someone else’s life a little bit better.        

The post WWII era saw massive changes which are still evolving to this day.  As the mother of seven, just managing the family is a massive task.  Kathleen worked as a nurse and teacher, for many years somehow balancing a 3-11 work schedule with home management and her church and community service, never shorting any role, she just kept going, kept doing what was needed. In the 70’s Kathleen became involved with Shaklee, a nascent business providing health and home products through direct sales. It became a family business providing income and another community for she and Gene. At age 97 she semi-retired from Shaklee, their oldest independent contractor, having sponsored and guided hundreds of people.

When someone lives over 100 years, they are often asked what is the secret. On her 100th birthday celebration, fielding calls from the CEO of Shaklee and interviews with the local media, she answered.  “Faith and family.  Community and service.”  But there is more to it than just surviving.  There is what you have done on your journey.  There have been public accolades like Iowa Mother of the year and American Business Woman of the year.  But for Kathleen, it was always the pride and love of her 7 children, 13 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren. It is the countless people she helped in ways small and large.  It is the mark she left on organizations and communities she has touched. All of this from a small farm girl looking out the window of a one room schoolhouse and wondering what will come.     
Kathleen is predeceased by her daughter, Anne, and husband, Gene.  She is survived by children Lee (Linda), Darcy, Patricia (Stephen), Barry (Amy), Jon, Michelle (Andy) and daughter in kind, Judy.  Grandchildren Peter (Marie), Adam (Laura), Peter (Ashleigh), Jeff (Cassie), Alicia (Kevin), Liz, Paul (Tiffany), Charlie (Carolyn), Kaeli, Rialee, Amanda, Samantha (Keagan), and Joe.  Great-Grandchildren Maya, Sadie, Grayson, Harper, Monica, Cole, Josh, Melanie, Isabel, Lyla, Nico, Rosie, Cora, Henry, Jack and Baker.  In lieu of flowers, donations to Green Square Meals Food Bank (Cedar Rapids), Catherine McAuley Center (Anne Louise Todd scholarship fund) (Cedar Rapids), and All Saints Parish Haiti Committee (Cedar Rapids).

There will be a visitation on Friday, March 8, 2024, at Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home from 6-8 pm, with a vigil service at 7 pm. The funeral Mass will be held at All Saints Catholic Church Saturday March 9, 2024, at 10 am. Burial follows at Mount Calvary Cemetery.