Doris E Gustafson Profile Photo
1923 Doris 2024

Doris E Gustafson

May 20, 1923 — February 17, 2024

Doris E. Gustafson, age 100, of Atlantic, formerly of Adair, IA, passed away on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at Heritage House in Atlantic, IA.

Doris Elaine Gustafson—adored matriarch of a large family that includes six children, 13 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren—died February 17 at Heritage House in Atlantic.

Doris was born May 20, 1923, to Otto and Martha (Hocamp) Faga in Guthrie County. She was baptized June 17, 1923, at St. John’s Lutheran Church north of Adair by the Rev. George Griesse who also confirmed her on April 2, 1939. At age three, her mother called her to a window to observe the steeple toppling from the old wooden church, which she said was her first childhood memory. Soon after, she appeared in the congregational photo taken outside the new brick church commemorating its 1927 consecration. These were the beginnings of a lifelong attachment and devotion to her church. Doris attended country school through the eighth grade, and a year of religious training in preparation for confirmation after grade school.

In her grade school years, Doris often won footraces, including those at the Exira Fourth of July celebrations in which she defeated even the boys, as newspaper clippings attest. She was a scrap-booker compiling several volumes cataloguing the lives of friends and relatives. At 13, Doris began keeping a diary. One entry recounts her and her father walking along a railroad track picking up coals that had fallen from trains. It was the Great Depression, and free coal was a blessing.

The Fagas are a musical family. Father Otto played the guitar and fiddle at barn dances and taught his daughter to play a few chords on his guitar. She, in turn, taught her two oldest sons to play a few chords on that same guitar. All her children continue to enjoy playing guitar and singing, including those children’s songs she played for them. Doris sang in the church choir and at weddings and funerals for years. Many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren continue the family’s tradition of singing, some professionally.

In 1938, when she was 15, a boy named Clarence asked her to ride on a Ferris Wheel with him. She accepted, but it was two years later before they would have another “date.” Four years after that Ferris Wheel ride, Clarence and Doris married on September 30, 1942, in Bethany, Missouri. Doris had worked a year at the Adair Café, but after their marriage, the couple began farming east of Adair. In 1947, they and their four children moved to a farm they bought six miles south of Adair, where a fifth child was born.

In 1958, after selling the first farm, they moved to a farm north of town, eight miles closer to her beloved church. There, a sixth child was born. Clarence and Doris farmed there until they retired in 1983. Four years later, they moved to Adair.

Doris had a love of animals. For a while she had two pet geese who followed her around like puppies and were protective of her. Once she named two orphan piglets Pork and Beans, and they became family pets. She and Clarence enjoyed bird watching, another legacy enjoyed by their children. Doris also enjoyed reading, card playing, quilting, and embroidery.

The couple traveled widely in the Midwest and West both before and after retirement, often visiting children in Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. Doris was a vibrant woman, full of love, vibrancy, optimism, and faith whose mind was sharp to the end. Appropriately, she was singing as she took her last breaths.

Doris is survived by children Gary (Marcia) of Slater; Neil (Judy Roberts) of Urbandale; Sandy Chavez of Papillion, Nebraska; Sally (Mike) DuHoux of Atlantic; and Dan of Kingston, Oklahoma; brother Paul (Joyce) Faga of Harlingen, Texas; sisters-in-law Sonie Faga of Desert Hot Springs, California, and Margaret Gustafson of Villisca. In addition to the 39 grandchildren of various generations mentioned, she is survived by many nieces and nephews, several of whom kept in touch and were regular visitors.

Doris was preceded in death by her parents; sisters Clara Schirm, Ellen Jean Brandt; brothers George, Eldon, Donald, and Robert; and son Dean.

Visitation with the family will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 21, 2024, at the Schmidt Family Funeral Home in Adair.

Funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 22, 2024, at St. John's Lutheran Church northwest of Adair, with Rev. Kyle McBee officiating the service. Interment will take place at St. John's Lutheran Cemetery following the funeral.

Memorials may be directed to the St. John's Cemetery Association in memory of Doris and may be mailed to the Schmidt Family Funeral Home P.O. Box 523. Atlantic, IA 50022.

Funeral are handled with the Schmidt Family Funeral Home of Adair.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Doris E Gustafson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Thursday, February 22, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

St. John's Lutheran Church - Adair, Iowa

3046 Union Ave, Adair, IA 50002

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