Dorothy May Caudill, 92, of Des Moines, died at home of natural causes Wednesday, December 12, 2012.
Dorothy May Swendsen was born to Danish immigrants, Carl and Anna Swendsen, in Astor, Iowa. Raised in Astor, Manilla and Dallas Center, she graduated from Ames High School in 1937. After attending the American Institute of Business in Des Moines, she went on to receive her nurses training at Iowa Methodist School of Nursing. She took postgraduate training in surgical nursing at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis before enlisting in the US Navy Nurse Corps, serving in Fort Lauderdale and Argentia, Newfoundland during World War II.
Dorothy met George Caudill at Great Lakes Navel Station during their military service, and following a post-war courtship in Des Moines, they married on September 5, 1948. Dorothy continued her work as a surgical nurse at University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City while George attended medical school, the couple returned to Des Moines and eventually settled on the South side of the city, where they happily raised five daughters and a son.
In addition to rearing six children, Dorothy was an active member of Wakonda Christian Church, Raymond Blank Hospital Guild and the Polk County Medical Auxiliary. For many years she volunteered helping families in the surgical lounge at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.
Those who knew her will remember a vibrant welcoming woman who served as a second mother to the many friends of her children, grandchildren, and the extended Caudill family. Regular Sunday dinners and holiday meals kept her home brimming with family and friends. Her greatest joy was to be surrounded by those she loved--a joy that was found in abundance in the Caudill household. She reveled in seeing her back yard filled with kids splashing in the pool; horses grazing on the grass, dogs romping, and the random rabbit or chickens brought home as temporary pets. Always up for a good game of Scrabble or Cribbage, she would never cede victory to her opponents out of sympathy for lack of skill, or age--a lesson that would serve her children well throughout their lives.
A near permanent fixture behind her sewing machine during the 60s and 70s, she crafted dresses for countless high school dances and weddings, including each and every bride's maid dress for all five of her daughter's weddings.
She and George enjoyed traveling, fishing and visiting friends and family wherever they happened to live. They regularly vacationed with their immediate and extended families at Lake Okoboji and often made pilgrimages to Canada and Washington State or wherever there were fish to be caught. Dorothy, by they way, typically caught the big ones, while George couldn't seem to catch a keeper any time Dorothy was in the boat. For more than 20 years, George and Dorothy spent winter months in Rockport, Texas where they developed valuable friendships in the community.
Throughout her long and full life, her greatest joy was her family: Kim, Tony, Emily, Allison and Nick Bisignano; Marci, Dave, Karen, Anna, Maria and David Rafdal; Vicki, Dave, Natalie, and Ryan Markley; Kara and Joey Masheck; Cathy, Steve, Erin and Christopher Mussett; Tammy, Scott, Ellen and Lauren Stines; George, Kathleen, Catherine and Charlie Caudill and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by husband George, her sister Margaret Bernhard, brother Charlie Swendsen, and grandson, Nick Bisignano.
The family wishes to extend special thanks for the friendship and kindness of the caring staff at 3801 Grand Retirement Village in Des Moines.
Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Monday December 17, 2012 at Wakonda Christian Church, burial will be at 2 p.m. at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter. The family will greet friends at Dunn's Funeral Home on Sunday December 16, 2012 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be directed to Blank Childrens Hospital Guild at 1200 Pleasant Street Des Moines, Iowa 50309, or Wakonda Christian Church.
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