Johanna Hicks Obituary

Johanna  Hicks
Johanna Hicks
Johanna Hicks

December 28, 1924 - September 13, 2011
Born in Trenton, Missouri
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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Helen Johann (Warren) (Wheeler) Hicks, 86, passed away on September 13, 2011 after a brief illness. She was born December 28, 1924, in Trenton, MO. She was the eldest daughter of Victor Melvin Warren and Frances Hubbell (Crooks) Warren, both of Trenton. She was a graduate of Trenton Junior College and of Drake University in Des Moines.

Near the end of WWII in 1945, Johann traveled by rail to Ft. Jackson Army Base in South Carolina to marry Staff Sgt. Harrison Ernest Wheeler. After the war, Harrison and Johann returned to Trenton. They later had two sons, Robert Earl Wheeler and Nyle Warren Wheeler.

On February 17, 1952, Johann married James Everett Hicks of Hannibal, MO. Her second union produced two more children, Charles David Hicks and Edith Ethel (Hicks) Rusk.

After her second marriage ended in 1962, Johann entered the workforce at Meredith Publishing in Des Moines. While working full time to support herself and her four children, she studied nights and weekends at Drake to earn her degree in elementary education. In 1966, she began a teaching career that lasted more than 20 years. She taught kindergarten in several Des Moines schools including Hubbell, Douglas, and Oak Park.

A devout Christian and a lifelong patriot, Johann worked just as hard in her retirement years to support the causes she strongly believed in. She was known as "The Flag Lady of Iowa" and expressed her love of America in ongoing patriotic displays and numerous radio interviews. She contributed several years of work as a Methodist Lay Witness Missionary in churches throughout Iowa.

For nearly 10 years, beginning in the late 1980s, she worked as a lobbyist at the capitol in Des Moines. She was instrumental in the passing of Iowa's home school legislation. She changed her given name at that time to Johanna, "with an a," to help differentiate herself from fellow lobbyists, most of whom were male.

Utilizing her teaching credentials and knowledge of curriculum, Johanna helped found Ankeny Christian Academy and Glory Family School. She also independently supervised dozens of families as the director of Hicks' Home School. In recent years, she was named "The Grandmother of Home Schooling" by Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Blessed with the "gift of gab," tireless energy, a sharp mind, and a heartfelt enthusiasm for the causes she believed in, Johanna will be deeply missed by both her immediate family and by families throughout Iowa and across the US.

She is survived by her four children and their spouses, Robert "Bob" Wheeler and Julie (Thompson) Wheeler of Loveland, CO, Nyle Wheeler and Sandee (Church) Wheeler of Omaha, NE, David Hicks and Jacque Roethler of Iowa City, IA, and Edee (Hicks) Rusk and Richard "Dick" Rusk of Houston, TX. She is also survived by a brother, Robert Norley "Buck" Warren and his wife June Warren of Wylie, TX; a sister, Donna Sue (Warren) Tener and her husband Alan Tener of Richardson, TX; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great grandchildren.

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, September 14, from 7-9 p.m. at Iles Funeral Homes-Westover Chapel. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 15, at First Assembly of God Church, 2725 Merle Hay Rd in Des Moines. Burial will be in the Warren plot at Maple Grove Cemetery in Trenton, MO.

Memorial contributions may be made in Johanna's name to Ankeny Christian Academy.


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Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Maple Grove Cemetery
Trenton, MO US
Thursday, September 15, 2011
4:00 PM - 4:30 PM
First Assembly of God Church
2625 Merle Hay Road
Des Moines, IA US 50310
Thursday, September 15, 2011
11:00 PM - 11:45 AM


Ankeny Christian Academy
1604 West First Street
Ankeny, IA US 50023-2525