Gundel Basart of Johnston

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A Celebration of Life for Hildegunde “Gundel” Basart, 80, of Johnston will be held Sunday, July 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at McHenry Park, 1012 Oak Park Ave. in Des Moines.

Gundel was born July 16, 1940, and passed away April 22, 2021.

We could list the usual biographical data – birth, marriage, kids, college, career moves – but that’s not really the significant part of who Gundel Basart was. The most important memories of her life were marked by people rather than milestones. Her sons, Mike (always Misha to her) and Rich. Her daughter Tina. Her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The Basart kids. And her friends. So many friends. Rather than try to recap an amazing life lived over 80 years, here are some of the highlights:

Gundel used to give her neighbor Roger a hard time because he didn’t fully grasp the opportunities presented by having a giant cow in his yard. Gundel headed off on one of her trips, and Roger loaded the cow onto his tractor. When Gundel returned, the cow was eating her hedge. You can bet she took every chance to celebrate that metal bovine! That cow had more costume changes than a Vegas dancer!

Gundel had been fascinated by quilting for quite some time, and that’s how she intended to spend her “retirement.” She not only learned to quilt and gifted dozens – or was it hundreds? – of beautiful creations, but she was a leader in the quilting community. Fabric shops across Iowa are going to miss her visits to “see if there’s something that has to come home with me.”

Gundel got it in her head she wanted to tap dance, and so she did. She and her group of happy tappers clicked and clattered their way through downtown Des Moines to the delight of hundreds of onlookers.

“Food is love.” Even after she retired from the Iowa Finance Authority, Gundel would host annual soup days for her IFA coworkers and friends. The crew would stop by for lunch and a chat. Her potato salad and Kentucky butter cake are legendary.

And cookie week! The first week of December is always cookie week. Tina and Gundel hauled out the family recipes and together made dozens of cookies for distribution to friends and family. During this time they’d also choose the year’s live tree and decorate it – complete with real candles. The tree never caught fire.

Gundel absolutely loved to laugh and had a great sense of humor. Some people don’t know her left eye was glass. She used that to her advantage, especially with her kids and their friends. “I’ve got my eye on you!” she’d say, and leave the spare eye where they could see it “seeing” them.

Gundel never remarried, never even considered dating. “After Don, no one could possibly compete.” That doesn’t mean her life wasn’t filled with love. The woman had friends. Quilting friends. German friends. Work friends. Animal-welfare friends. Neighborhood friends. Satellite kids of all ages. And four-legged family she adored: Spaz, Latte, Mittens, Yukon and Topaz all left their fur on her quilts and in her heart.

Gundel Basart had a heart as big as her voice and tossed her love around freely. She will be greatly missed, but more important, she will be remembered with a smile and if you’re lucky, the memory of a Gundel hug and maybe some of those special Christmas cookies.

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