Wendy L. Wallace
Wendy L. Wallace

October 14, 1948 - August 1, 2022
Born in Des Moines, IA
Resided in Dallas Center, Iowa
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Wendy Lee Ward was born to Jeane and Wes Ward of Dallas Center, Iowa, on October 14, 1948. On that date, the Dallas Center-Grimes Community gained what would eventually become an influential teacher, a dedicated church member, and a fierce friend.

Wendy spent her childhood on her family’s farm just South of town on Ortonville Road. She was always proud of that house, as her great-grandfather had built it for her great-grandmother as a wedding gift. She enjoyed playing with the farm’s numerous cats, her dog Rusty, and her first horse, Champy. She also enjoyed singing to the cows. As she told it, she spent time as a baby in the bassinette listening to her grandmother, Marjorie Harmon, playing Handel’s Messiah on the piano, and music surrounded her as she grew up. She greatly admired her grandmother as a woman before her time, for her entire life. Her first solo in church was at four years old for Mother’s Day, when she sang ’M’ is for the Many Things She Gave Me” (M-O-T-H-E-R). Wendy often recounted sitting in church as a young girl, with her white gloves that matched her Great Grandma Neff. If she was really good in church, Grandma Neff would reward her with the special treat of a horehound candy, which she would smile and accept, even though she could not stand the taste.

She was the rare person who was both a musician and an athlete, playing multiple sports and excelling in both instrumental and vocal music. One of her proudest accomplishments was playing the lead role of Nellie Forbush in the high school’s production of “South Pacific.” She told stories of accidentally turning her hair orange when she tried to bleach it to be blonde like Nellie. As a guard on the basketball team, she was known as having the “best butt in the county.” She was a member of the Class of 1966. In the summers, Wendy enjoyed vacationing with her family at Lake Okoboji and Clear Lake, where she enjoyed water-skiing.

The most important thing that happened to Wendy in high school was meeting the love of her life, Jim Wallace, a handsome football player from Grimes. She loved Jim so much. She often judged her boyfriends by how they treated her little sister, Doree, who she adored, and Jim passed with flying colors. She never stopped saying Jim was cute, and he was always able to make her laugh with his goofy humor and his blue eyes.

After high school, Wendy attended Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree in 1971. She also enjoyed playing volleyball and singing in the choir at Drake. After graduating from college, Wendy taught remedial reading at Dexfield (Dexter and Redfield) for a short time.

Wendy and Jim went their separate ways after high school, but when they found each other again they instantly knew that it was meant to be, and they were married on September 14, 1974, at which time she became Wendy Wallace. Jim was always the only man for her. When she married Jim, she became a step-mom to Jim’s son Brad, a role that she embraced and took very seriously. She helped Brad with his schoolwork, bought him his first drum, took him school shopping, and gave him lots of love.

On December 17, 1975, Wendy and Jim welcomed Wendy’s only child into the world, Shannon Lee Wallace. She took time off from teaching to stay home with Shannon for about three years, and then returned to teaching as a 4th grade teacher at DC-G. Wendy was a very involved mother. She coached Shannon’s softball team, helped fundraise for a new set of high school band uniforms, and chaperoned two of Shannon’s band trips, to Chicago and Wiliamsburg, Virginia. She instilled in Shannon a curiosity about the world and a life-long love of learning that encourages Shannon to always to be learning about and exploring new things. She taught Shannon to love music. There was rarely a time when she and Shannon were in the car together and not singing. She was Shannon’s constant cheerleader.

On Christmas Eve 2000, Shannon and her then-husband became the parents of Wendy’s granddaughter, Kathryn Kensington Pagel. Having only had one child of her own, Wendy was extremely ready for a grandchild. She loved buying baby clothes and singing to Kathryn. She became Shannon’s go-to for babysitting. “Grandma Wen” introduced Kathryn to her beloved “Scooby-Doo” as well as “I Love Lucy.” They spent many days watching the movie “Ice Age,” and singing together in the car to the Beach Boys. Once Kathryn started school, Kathryn went to school with her grandma every morning and went to her grandma’s room every afternoon until Shannon could pick her up. Kathryn remembers when Grandma Wen would drive her to art classes at the Des Moines Art Center in the summer, and she and grandma would stop at Sonic on the way home and get Cherry Limeades. Wendy was at the front row of every one of Kathryn’s music concerts in middle and high school. Wendy was beyond thrilled when she learned that Kathryn had decided to attend Drake University, where both she and her sister Doree, as well as their mother Jeane, had gone to college.

When Wendy returned to teaching, she taught 4th grade. And she kept teaching it until she retired. She loved fourth graders, because they were old enough to be really curious, smart, and willing to take chances, but they were still young enough to let you love them. While at DC-G, she also influenced many high-schoolers, helping her good friend and colleague Michael Patterson choreograph the high school musicals during his time at DC-G. She would take Shannon to rehearsals with her, and Shannon thought that was just about the coolest thing ever.

As a fourth grade teacher, Wendy touched generations of DC-G students, sometimes having had both the current student and his or her parent in class. She always loved it when she was able to have all the siblings in a family in her class. Her students will remember playing “I Am, Who Is?” a card game that she created to teach multiplication facts, “Wallace true-life adventures”, how she would give spelling tests in different voices and accents to make them more fun, the spring play productions that she put on every year, and Pit Patrol. Most of all, they will remember her hugs, all the love she fed into them, and how she told them if they ever needed anything, ever, for the rest of their lives, they could call her, because once they were hers, they were hers. She retired in 2013.

She started directing the church choir while still attending Drake, coming back home to do it. She never wavered in her dedication to the choir, and some of her closest relationships were with its members. The highpoint of the choir year was the church Christmas cantata. She worked tireless hours picking out the music, preparing for rehearsals, rehearsing, finding the scripture and writing the narration, and sometimes even including a live nativity which she had to cast and costume. It became a joke that if Wendy had not started picking out Christmas music by mid-summer, something was wrong.

Wendy died on August 1, 2022, at the age of 73, while on vacation in Maine with Shannon and Kathryn, due to complications from a perforated esophagus. Wendy was preceded in death by her grandparents, Marjorie and Dewey Harmon, and Ora and Florence Ward; and her parents, Jeane and Wes Ward. She is survived by her husband, Jim Wallace of Dallas Center; sister, Doree Ward of Newton; daughter, Shannon Wallace of Dallas Center; step-son, Brad Wallace of Phoenix, AZ; granddaughter, Kathryn Pagel, currently of Des Moines and attending Drake; close friends that are too numerous to count or mention; and hundreds of students forever imprinted by her love.

Visitation will be held from 6-8:30pm, Thursday, August 11, 2022 at Iles Brandt Chapel in Dallas Center, IA. Funeral services will be 11am, Friday, August 12 at Dallas Center United Methodist Church. Interment will follow at Dallas Center Cemetery, Dallas Center, IA. The funeral will be livestreamed for those unable to attend. Please go to Wendy’s obituary page at for the link and online condolences. Memorial contributions may be directed to Dallas Center United Methodist Church.

Arrangements by Iles Brandt Chapel.





Iles Brandt Dallas Center Chapel
1301 Ash Street
Dallas Center, IA US 50063
Thursday, August 11, 2022
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Dallas Center United Methodist Church
1504 Walnut Street
Dallas Center, IA
Friday, August 12, 2022
11:00 AM
Dallas Center Cemetery, Dallas Center,IA
Dallas Center
Dallas Center, IA 50063
Friday, August 12, 2022


Dallas Center United Methodist Church
1504 Walnut Street
Dallas Center, IA US