This is the story of Tamara Jo (Steffens) Wise, an incredible woman who spread kindness and love to both humans and animals wherever she went.
Her story began on September 12, 1957, on the family farm of Gail and Dolores Steffens in Wiota, IA. She was the little sister of Rick, and big sister to Mike and Brant. Her strong work ethic undoubtedly started early, hauling feed and water to the pigs, throwing hay bales, gathering eggs, and any other chores that needed done. In 1974 she was named the Cass County Pork Queen, proving she was the perfect combination of farm girl and beauty queen.
In 1975, Tammy married Ronald Lee South and made a home in rural Cumberland where they raised their 4 children: Sean, Stephanie, Tyler, and Tessa. For most of those years, Tammy stayed home to be the greatest Mom on Earth. She also continued to help on the farm, ran a daycare out of their home, and taught Sunday School at the First Baptist Church in Cumberland. It was through this church that she accepted Jesus as her Savior and was baptized. This faith in God was evident throughout her life. She loved to read and became a regular at the local library; she also worked at a bookstore in Atlantic. At home in the summer, she could often be found on the lawn mower, or tending her flowers. Tammy was not one to sit idle for long, so when her kids were a little older, she started working at Dr. Markham’s dental office in Atlantic. She was a natural receptionist; greeting everyone by name with a friendly smile, remembering and asking about their family and pets, and making lasting friendships with her coworkers.
Through everything she did, Tammy put family first; running meals or parts to the field for the farmers, organizing appointments for her parents, making strawberry jam or canning sweet corn with her mother-in-law, inviting nieces and nephews over to visit and play. She was the biggest encourager for her kids and never missed a game or other school event or church activity. Birthdays and holidays were big events, and she was sure to decorate and celebrate appropriately. She shared her faith with not only her kids, but all who were in her care. A bible verse, an encouraging story, and plenty of advice, love, and hugs would guide her children through life. Tammy didn’t know it at the time, but she met the love of her life at Atlantic High School. However, Kelly Wise didn’t get up the courage to ask her out until 30 years later. They had their first date in the fall of 2003. After that, they were joined at the hip and never looked back. Their wedding on September 17th, 2004, joined Tammy and her four children with Kelly and his two sons, Austin and Keaton. The couple honeymooned in Europe (with seven other guys!) on an Alpine motorcycle tour adventure. When home in Atlantic, they had a daily 5-mile walking routine throughout the streets and alleys of town. People would often comment how cute it was to see them constantly holding hands during their walks. (The real reason was that Tammy was trying to drag Kelly along, or perhaps he was trying to slow her down!) Their love of traveling together took them on adventures around the world, and the beaches of the Bahamas, Mexico, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, and Key West were some of Tammy’s favorite places to be.
On top of traveling and exploring, Tammy’s obvious pleasure was enjoying and spoiling her family, especially her 16 grandkids. Christmas was her favorite (except for the cold), and she would often “hold off” on starting her Christmas shopping until at least June. The grandkids all knew that Gram had a knack for picking out the best gifts, and it was all because she knew each of them so well and loved them so much.
Tammy was truly one of the most kind, loving, gentle, and patient persons to ever walk this earth. She was kind to every person she encountered, whether friend or stranger. Her devotion to her family and friends could never be questioned. And her love of animals was a trait to admire.
On December 12, 2021, Tammy killed cancer and went for her eternal (probably barefoot) walk on the streets of gold, walking and talking with her Lord and her family and friends who were there to greet her. Left to cherish her memory are her husband Kelly, children Sean (Michal) South of Cumberland, Stephanie (Mike) Frankele of Sioux City, Tyler South of Cumberland, Tessa (Brian) Hendrickson of Paola, KS, Austin Wise of Houston, TX, and Keaton (Kasandra) Wise of Davenport, 16 grandchildren: Carlee, Brian, Mia, Alison, Erin, Shyla, and Evan South; Anna and Blake Maas and Seth Frankele; Olivia, Isabelle and Ava South; Claire, Aiden, and Lydia Hendrickson; brother Brant (Stephanie) Steffens of Wiota; sister-in-law Lori Fisher of Arlington, TX; sister-in-law Kris (Jim) Smith of Stockton, MO; mother-in-law Norma Wise of Atlantic; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and other family and friends, too numerous to name. Greeting her with open arms in Heaven were her parents Gail and Dolores Steffens, and brothers Rick and Mike Steffens.
Funeral Services will be at 11 am, on Saturday, December 18, 2021, at Schmidt Family Funeral Home in Atlantic with Rev. Greg Olsen officiating. Visitation will be held on Friday from 1 pm until 8 pm with the family present from 5 pm until 8 pm at the funeral home. The family will host a Dessert reception following the services at the Schmidt Family Community Room in the funeral home. Memorials can be made to either St. Jude's Childrens Hospital or Hospice of the Midwest and left or mailed to the Schmidt Family Funeral Home at P.O. Box 523 - Atlantic, IA 50022