Emma Elizabeth “Betty” Soukup

1925 - 2021


Emma Elizabeth “Betty” Soukup, 95, of rural Riverside, died peacefully of non-Covid related ailments on Jan. 13, 2021, at Pioneer Park in Lone Tree with family at her side.

A private Mass of christian burial for family was held o Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hills. Father Michael Spiekermeier officiated. Burial was at St. Stanislaus Cemetery. Friends may join the family by way of a Zoom link which may be found under the Tribute Wall on Betty’s obituary page at www.lensingfuneral.com. A memorial Mass to celebrate Betty’s life is being planned for family and friends this coming summer or fall, 2021. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Hills, Iowa.

Betty was born Sept. 7, 1925, at the home of her Grandpa Alphonse and Grandma Emma Muller in Riverside. Her parents were Anton Henry Kiefer and Irene Muller Kiefer. Her roots ran deep in the Richmond and Riverside communities. She grew up on the farm homesteaded by her great-great-grandparents Johannes and Marie Kiefer in the early 1850s. Her grandfather, Alphonse Muller and his offspring, operated a barber shop in Riverside from the 1880s to the 1990s. Many of her relatives were involved in the Richmond and Riverside business and farming communities.

Betty attended a one-room schoolhouse up the lane from the family farm for grades 1-4. She then attended Holy Trinity grade school in Richmond starting with the 5th grade. It was three miles from the farm, and she rode a horse each way. When her younger sisters, Nita and Mary, started going to school, they drove a horse and buggy. It was said that Betty could ride a horse before she could walk. She was also really good at milking cows by hand, milking several before and after school each day.

She graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Riverside in 1944, and upon graduation, she enrolled in the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Iowa City.

While there, she was a Cadet Nurse and received a $25 per month stipend from the U.S. Army in return for a promise to serve as an Army nurse after graduation if needed. But World War II ended before she graduated, and she fulfilled the obligation by serving as a shift nurse for six months in the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Des Moines.

On Christmas Eve, 1946, Betty became engaged to her husband of almost 70 years, John J. Soukup of Riverside. They were married on Sept. 13, 1947, in Richmond at Holy Trinity Church, a church which had been formally organized in 1855 by her great-great-grandparents Johannes and Marie Kiefer and others in the Richmond community.

Betty and John each came from a long line of farmers, so it was no surprise when they bought a farm from John’s father between Riverside and Hills. They raised seven children on that farm, plus cattle, hogs, corn, oats, soybeans, and hay.

Betty was a caregiver her entire life. In addition to farming and raising children, she worked as a registered nurse throughout the years at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City, Pioneer Park nursing home in Lone Tree, and Atrium Village nursing home in Hills. She only stopped her nursing career at age 73, when her macular degeneration got the best of her.

Betty was very committed to serving others, especially the senior residents at Pioneer Park and Atrium Village. She was also considered the “neighborhood nurse”. Whenever a neighbor needed help with a catheter, insulin injection, or other minor medical need, they knew that they could call Betty and she would drop what she was doing and give them a hand. Betty and John were long time members of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Hills where she served for many years as a member of the Altar and Rosary Society.

But her greatest love was family. She especially enjoyed large gatherings at the farm and the many fishing trips to Wisconsin lakes with children and grandchildren. And if a child or grandchild had a ball game in the area, she would be there cheering in the stands even though over time her eyesight prevented her from really seeing the action. Spending time with grandchildren and great-grandchildren was a great love of hers and, unfortunately, that was taken away by the Covid lockdown which prevented them from visiting her in Pioneer Park. Spring was her favorite season, and she couldn’t wait to plant a big garden. Also, spring meant it was time to hunt morel mushrooms, which she loved to do.

Betty was preceded in death by her husband: John; her parents; her brother: Anton C. “Ginger” Kiefer; son-in-law: Duane Schnoebelen; plus numerous brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law; and cousins.

Survivors include children: Larry (Bobbie) of Oceanside, Calif., Steven (Debra) of Helotes, Texas, James (Bonnie) of Bothell, Wash., Cindi Schnoebelen of Riverside, Richard of Iowa City, Iowa, Patricia Hunt of Colorado Springs, Colo., Christopher Kramer of Cedar Rapids; 18 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren; with another great-grandchild due in May; sisters: Nita Latta of Riverside and Mary Frank of Iowa City; and sister-in-law: Mary Soukup of Oxford; along with many nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

The family wishes to thank the staff at Pioneer Park in Lone Tree for their excellent care and support, especially during the last days of Mom’s life.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.lensingfuneral.com


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