Rena Christian Obituary

Rena  Christian
Rena Christian
Rena Christian

April 6, 1928 - December 5, 2014
Born in Kansas City, MO
Resided in Des Moines, IA
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Rena Raye Christian was born April 6, 1928, in Kansas City, Missouri, to Helen and Roy Ballenger. She was an adored only child and spent much time with both sets of grandparents as she grew up. Rena met her husband-to-be, George Edward Christian, on the streetcar enroute to classes at the University of Missouri in Kansas City (she recalled he was wearing a camel hair coat with the collar turned up).

After George graduated and became a teacher, they lived in rural Missouri where Rena taught first-to-eighth-graders in a one-room school where she had to light the stove every morning. (Her curriculum was heavy on art and poetry and light on math and science). George's work took them to Goodland, Kansas, and in 1950 to Des Moines, where George was hired to teach English and journalism at East High School. The two loved taking long summer road trips together, first as a couple, then with their children, and eventually with their grandchildren.

Rena was a loving wife and mother, an expert seamstress, and a wonderful cook who appointed her home gracefully. She read widely and deeply, from classics to new best-sellers, instilling a love of literature in her children, and often herself reading several books a week. After her two daughters went to college, she worked for many years at Weight Watchers, and always said that from just a glance she could judge weight as accurately as the man on the midway at the Iowa State Fair. Once a policeman put his gun down by the scale and asked how much he weighed. "How much do you want to weigh?" she countered. Long after retirement, she was recognized around town by the many clients she had worked with there.

One of the highlights of Rena's girlhood was taking elocution lessons from a glamorous and memorable teacher, Lenore Anthony, on Kansas City's Country Club Plaza. Rena loved theatre and did a wicked impersonation of Katharine Hepburn. Her favorite role was Portia in The Merchant of Venice. In recent years, she enjoyed performing with The Final Act Ensemble at The Des Moines Community Playhouse, a troupe that puts on vintage radio shows. She made the most of every part, especially that of Apple Annie, a peddler woman. A lifelong member of the Church of Christ, for many years a stalwart of the church on University and then a member of the church at Pleasant Hill, Rena also enjoyed Red Hat luncheons with her church friends and appreciated her church friends' many kindnesses, from bringing cherry pie to removing fall leaves.

Rena, who had a sharp wit and a regal bearing that belied her height of five feet, wore her hair in a French twist and even at 86 (much to her daughters' horror), refused to give up her high heels. She loved to shop so much that she burst into tears upon seeing the wreckage that was once Younkers after it burned. She also took pride in being the neighbor who had lived in their home the longest on her block on 45th Street, having moved to her little Victorian jewelbox of a home in 1956. In the last four years of her life, her daughter Victoria lived with her and provided much comfort as her health declined. She was eased into the everlasting arms on December 5, 2014, by the angels of Unity Point Hospice and by the loving care of Dr. Eric Holm and his nurse, Jodi.

Rena is survived by daughters Victoria Christian of Des Moines and Rebecca Christian Patience (John) of Ames; grandchildren Kate Thompson (Peter Birk) of Iowa City; Nicholas Thompson (Elizabeth) of Dubuque; and George Thompson (Mary) of Des Moines, along with five great-grandchildren: Stella, Fox, Whitman, Roy and Carl. She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, George.

Funeral services will be held 1:00 p.m., Friday, December 12, 2014 at Iles Dunn's Chapel with visitation 5-7pm, Thursday, December 11 at the funeral home. Private burial will be at Masonic Cemetery, Des Moines. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Salvation Army in memory of Rena.

Her family and friends will cherish the memory of her high standards, bright eyes and ready smile.

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Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Thursday, December 11, 2014
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Friday, December 12, 2014
1:00 PM
Masonic Cemetery
1550 48th Street
Des Moines, IA 50311
Friday, December 12, 2014