Thelma I. Worden
Thelma I. Worden

November 23, 1922 - June 13, 2022
Born in Grinnell, Iowa
Resided in Waukee, Iowa
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Thelma Inez (Livezey) Worden, 99, died peacefully Monday, June 13, 2022 at Independence Village, Waukee, Iowa.

Thelma was born November 23, 1922 to James Livezey and Jenny Slaven Livezey in Grinnell, Iowa. She grew up on a farm with 6 siblings. She graduated from Searsboro High School where she played basketball and, as class Valedictorian, was awarded a 2 year scholarship to Drake University where she earned a two year Secretarial Science degree.

She was employed by the Des Moines law firm Emmert, James, Needham & Lindgren as secretary to Ray A. Emmert in June, 1942. She took note of the women’s military exercises taking place in the streets below her office. Thinking that they looked like they were having fun, she enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in May, 1943, hoping to be stationed in California. Her training began in Palm Beach, Florida and was then stationed in Miami where she was assigned as secretary to the Assistant Legal Advisor for the 7th Naval District. She enjoyed her time in the Coast Guard and made life-long friends. She was a Red Cross Volunteer Nurse Aid, working in Miami hospitals caring for wounded service members and spent her free time in sports activities and joining the basketball team, which won the Miami City Women’s League championship. It was in Miami where she met her future husband, Robert Worden, United States Navy, who was attending gunnery school. Thelma served 2 ½ years in the Coast Guard and received an Honorable Discharge in 1945. She and Bob were married August 16, 1945.

Thelma and Bob lived in Marshalltown, Iowa where they began to raise a family of 3 children, John, Mary Beth (Betsy) and Martha. She was welcomed into the family and canning peaches and tomatoes with her mother-in-law was a year occurrence. The family relocated to Urbandale in 1963, becoming part of a new neighborhood on Ashwood Drive. Thelma volunteered many hours as president of PTA twice, Mercy Hospital Guild member, Cub Scout Den Mother, Census enumerator and office worker, Chairman of Election Polls for over 20 years, secretary for the Blood Bank of Iowa and secretary for Schering Plough for 20 years. She was also active in the St Pius X parish in Urbandale where she supervised Bingo and was Chairman of the church Food Bank.

Thelma and Bob traveled with an Honor Flight in 2007 to Washington, D.C., accompanied by their son John, an Air Force veteran. They enjoyed traveling, going to Europe, Hawaii, the Gaspe Peninsula and attending many of Bob’s USS Tisdale reunions, parasailing in Florida at age 60.

Thelma was an accomplished seamstress and upholsterer. She used those skills on her daughters’ clothing, daughters’ and granddaughters’ doll clothes and many other projects. She loved to play bridge with friends and played a mean game of Scrabble, especially with her grandson, Chris. Reunions with her siblings were special to her. In April of this year, she was invited by the Coast Guard Academy to share her experiences in the Coast Guard Spars during the war years, especially her time playing basketball.

She was a dearly loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Family time meant Sunday picnics with extended family, time at their Lake Rathbun cabin with grandchildren Bart, Kate and Sarah, camping and canoeing with grandson Will and his cousins, Minnesota vacations when her family was young. Birthday parties and holiday celebrations were a highlight for everyone.

Her hands were always busy organizing, sewing, or teaching her daughters how to sew, along with baking, cooking, ironing, and best of all, hugging. She did it all with grace and happiness. She was a kind and generous woman inside and out and was loved deeply by her family. How fortunate we are to call her our Mother.

Thelma is survived by her children, John (Beverly) Worden of Green Mountain, Iowa, Mary Beth (Betsy) (Tom) Horton of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Martha (Clair) Sumner of West Des Moines, Iowa; grandchildren, Bart (Lorna) Horton, Kate Horton, Sarah Horton, Christopher (Kendell) Sumner, Michelle (Jeff) Sumner Carver, Lindsey (Kevin) Sumner Georges, and William Worden; four great-grandchildren; brother, Walter (Pat) Livezey, and sisters-in law, Barbara Ytzen and Beverly Duffy as well as many nieces, nephews and their families.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Bob; her siblings, Edith, Robert, Leonard, Alice, and Gertrude.

Services will be held on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at Iles Westover Chapel, 6337 Hickman Road, Des Moines, with visitation at 9:30 am and funeral service to follow at 10:30 am. A Military Committal Service at Iowa Veterans Cemetery (at Van Meter), 34024 Veterans Memorial Avenue, Adel will be at 12:30 pm, with lunch to follow at the American Legion Post 403, 910 Main St., Van Meter.

Memorials will be directed by family to Westfield Cemetery, Westfield, Iowa (where her parents are buried along with other family members.)

Online condolences are welcome at

Arrangements by Iles Westover Chapel





Iles Westover Chapel
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Iles Westover Chapel
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
10:30 AM
Iowa Veterans Cemetery
34024 Veterans Memorial Drive
Adel, IA US 50003
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
12:30 PM


Westfield Cemetery
Memorials for Thelma Worden, will be directed by family to Westfield Cemetery, Westfield, Iowa (where her parents are buried along with other family members.)