Barbara Dinnen Obituary

Barbara  Dinnen
Barbara Dinnen

February 23, 1953 - April 3, 2020
Born in Iowa City, IA
Resided in Urbandale, IA
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Barbara Dinnen, a beloved pastor devoted to ministering immigrant and native-born alike, passed away April 3, 2020, after a four-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. She was 67.

Barbara was born February 23, 1953, in Iowa City, to Waldo and Ruth (nee Derby) Elder. She grew up in Wilton Junction and came to Des Moines to study at Drake University.

After meeting Steve Dinnen while they studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, the two were married in 1975. They lived in Oklahoma while Steve attended graduate school and later in Indiana. Barb became involved in volunteer work at her church in Carmel, Ind., eventually serving as youth leader.

Relocating to Des Moines, Barbara was called to the ministry and attended St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. She was appointed as a junior pastor at Immanuel United Methodist Church in Des Moines and Marion Street United Methodist Church in Boone. After graduation, she was appointed to Trinity United Methodist Church in Des Moines where she served for more than a decade, also serving the Las Americas faith community based out of Trinity.

Barbara was a devout activist of immigrant and women’s rights. In the wake of immigration raids in Postville and Marshalltown, she administered support to divided families. She led faith based health care missions to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Cuba. She was a former board member of Habitat for Humanity and Sixth Avenue Corridor.

She was known as a hands-on person: She joined together the hands of newlyweds, and dabbed droplets of holy water onto baptized babies. She used her hands to make pupusas and tamales with Latina women gathered in the kitchen of her church. She taught immigrant women to sew. She drew words with her fingers onto the backs of her children and dared them to guess (it was always the same: I love you). She wrote loving letters to family and friends. She cut Steve’s hair for 46 years. She made food for him, for the children, and friends and family alike throughout her lifetime.

Barb was also quite a hostess of travelers. Over the years, she and Steve welcomed into their homes travelers from Mexico, Peru, Japan, Paraguay and a pair of veterinarians from Tajikistan. Most recently they provided housing to students from England and Scotland who came to Iowa to volunteer in the state’s political caucus process.

Her survivors include her husband, sisters Christa Elder, of Indianapolis, and Judy Boorn, of Perry, brother Jack Elder, of Benecia, Calif., daughters Audrey Walters, of Indianapolis, and Elizabeth Dinnen, of Colorado, son Patrick Dinnen, of Chicago, four grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be held when pandemic restrictions have passed.

Memorials can be made to Trinity United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 41005, Des Moines, 50311.




Funeral Home
Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322


Trinity United Methodist Church
PO Box 41005
Des Moines, IA 50311