Nu Alpha Gamma honors last charter member, Wilma McManus

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Gathering to honor the memory of Wilma McManus, the last charter member of the Nu Alpha Gamma Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, were chapter members, from left, Marlene Johnson, Maureen Becker, Darlene Pitsenbarger, JoAnn Harmelink, Barb Burket, Deb Irving, Sue Leslie, Jackie Landon, Marilyn Bode, Sharon Ulrich, Nancy Burrow and Barb Saltsgaver. Not pictured is Lois Marie Mills.

wilma
Wilma McManus

At their Sept. 5 meeting, the Nu Alpha Gamma Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma conducted a Remembrance Ceremony honoring Wilma McManus, who died died July 22, 2016, at the age of 102. She was the last surviving charter member of the chapter.

McManus and 14 other educators were initiated at the state chapter’s fall meeting at the Hotel Fort Des Moines Nov. 4, 1956. She was in her 60th year of membership at the time of her death.

During her lifetime, McManus was all that the Society represents — a key woman educator performing her educational tasks with enthusiasm and dedication and enriching the lives of those she taught and those with whom she worked. Intellectual and professional growth were her constant goals.

She taught in many schools throughout Dallas County, eventually assuming the post of elementary rural school supervisor with the Dallas County superintendent’s office. McManus became the Dallas County Superintendent for 11 years and was later the elementary principal in the Waukee Consolidated School System.

After retiring from teaching in 1977, McManus continued to be very involved in the community. She volunteered at Adel’s Home Care Services food pantry and for the Main Street Adel Chamber of Commerce.

She sent out nearly 200 birthday, anniversary, new baby, sympathy and baptism cards annually to parishoners of St. John’s Catholic Church in Adel and served on the board of directors of Aging Resources of Dallas County.

She and her younger sister, Kathryn Dawes, were also well known for their stunning layer cake creations. Many generations had either their birthday or wedding cakes baked and decorated by Wilma and Kathryn.

McManus was all that exemplified a member of Delta Kappa Gamma since she truly gave herself to distinctive service in her community and in education. The ceremony concluded with the following poem and the singing of the Delta Kappa Gamma Song:

The original charter with a rose on Wilma's name in the initiate book,
The ceremony included the chapter’s original charter with a rose by Wilma’s name in the initiate book.

There is no night without a dawning
No winter without a Spring
And beyond death’s dark horizon
Our hearts once more will sing…

For those who leave us for a while
Have only Gone Away
Out of a restless, careworn world
Into a “Brighter Day”

Where there will be no partings
And time is not counted by years,
Where there are no trials or troubles,
No worries or cares and no tears.

McManus graduated from Washington Township School in 1932. She then took classes at the Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls, now known as the University of Northern Iowa. It was here that she obtained her certificate to teach in a country school. At the time of her death, Wilma was also the oldest living graduate of Washington Township School.

Marlene Johnson, left, and JoAnn Harmelink delivered readings at the Remembrance Ceremony Sept. 5 honoring the memory of Wilma McManus, the last charter member of the Nu Alpha Gamma Chapter.
Marlene Johnson, left, and JoAnn Harmelink delivered readings at the Remembrance Ceremony Sept. 5 honoring the memory of Wilma McManus, the last charter member of the Nu Alpha Gamma Chapter.

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