Zola Marie Summerson of Perry


Zola Marie Summerson, 93, was born in Yale, Iowa, April 15, 1927, the eldest of 11 children to William and Fonnie Clark Van Cleave.

She died Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, at the Dallas County Hospital in Perry, Iowa due to complications of COVID-19.

Zola was united in marriage to Joe Eugene (Gene) Summerson at the Bayard Church of Christ Jan. 23, 1949. Two daughters were born to this union, Kathy and Nancy.

Zola and Gene worked as partners in their farming operation until his death Sept. 28, 2005.

Zola continued to live on the farm until age 90, still mowing and gardening. She then moved into Perry and resided at Spring Valley Retirement Community.

She was active in the Dawson United Methodist Church, Red Cross, Women’s Club and other civic, community and political organizations.

Gardening was a hobby that Zola enjoyed her entire life. She loved putting her hands in dirt, planting seeds and then watching the flowers and vegetables grow.

Even more than watching her gardens grow, she loved watching her grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow and bloom. Pictures of them were found on the refrigerator door, bulletin boards and picture albums throughout the house. Her arms were always open to hugs when they visited.

Zola is survived by her two daughters, Kathy (Mike) Book of Estero, Florida, and Nancy (Lee) Pape of Perry; her four grandchildren, Ann (Randy Gray) Lehnhoff of Scranton, Erik (Kelly) Book of College Station, Texas, Courtney DeLuca of Waukee and Cody Laird of Ankeny; her nine great-grandchildren, Samantha (fiance, Kirby Gathercoal, and his son, Jakota), Joe, Kaylie, Marisa and Chloe Lehnhoff, Bailey and Greyson Book and Camryn and Emmett DeLuca; and her three brothers, George Van Cleave, Joe (Judy) Van Cleave and Donald Van Clevae; sisters-in-law, Brenda Van Cleave, Ruby Van Cleave and Rusty Van Cleave; and brothers-in-law, John Summerson and George Conz.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Gene; parents, Bill and Fonnie Van Cleave; in-laws, Joe and June Summerson; brothers, Paul Van Cleave, Reid Van Cleave, Lloyd (Pete) Van Cleave and Harold Van Cleave; and sisters, Melva Conz, Jean Laursen and Sharon Ayers.

Private graveside services for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be held at the Dallas Township Cemetery in Dawson Nov. 27 at 11 a.m. Hastings Funeral Home will have live streaming of the service available.

A Celebration of Life for extended family and friends will take place in the summer 2021, when the family can safely gather outdoors.

It is fitting that with her love of gardening, music for the service will be “In the Garden,” “In the Bulb There is a Flower” and “On Eagle’s Wings.” Scripture for the service will include her favorite Bible verse, Matthew 28:20: “I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

Since family could not be with her in her final days and hours, Zola was comforted in knowing that she was held in the arms of Jesus. Memorials may be directed to Hastings Funeral Home in Perry for the family to distribute to Zola’s favorite charities.


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