Holiday Greetings from Christina and Martin Andersen

Martin and Christine at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert, CA

Dear Friends,

As fear and disruption caused by the Covid pandemic continue to recede, life seems to be returning to what it once was. But, when considering other world events – overhanging clouds of existential geopolitical and environmental threat – one can feel strongly that living on this planet has somehow permanently changed. Nevertheless, because time and health and the people we love are our most precious personal commodities while living this life on Earth, shouldn’t we savor these good things and cultivate gratitude for them? Perhaps this is something to reaffirm as we enter a new year. 


Chris remains busy at Christina Andersen Floral Design, her 25th year in business. (She says: Yikes!!!) CAFD earned another Hoboken Green Business Award for Chris’ earth-friendly practices, such as composting, recycling, and choosing a 100% wind power electric supplier. At the awards ceremony, she received a special shout-out from Mayor Ravi Bhalla – who also happens to be a frequent CAFD client (as was former Mayor Dawn Zimmer). 


Martin abides at New Jersey Symphony, completing his 44th season as the orchestra celebrated its Centennial year. You’ve already heard about his participation in the film Maestro (reduced to five seconds of obscure screen time 20:25 in), now also on Netflix. He is once again teaching at Stevens Institute of Technology, as well as keeping busy with private students and the NJSO’s youth orchestra program. And of course, the usual time-intensive involvement with the musician committee/music union. 

Christina & Martin:

We enjoyed three trips this year. June found us attending a McIlwain (Chris’ family) reunion in Rockford Illinois. Had not gotten that many – 40, comprising three generations – together ever before. We made our yearly trip to Palm Springs, California to visit Martin’s mom. At 93, Ruth enjoys good health and lives in her own home, with the help of her friends. (Martin made another visit in June, after attending a union convention in Las Vegas.) In August we returned to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the Grand Teton Music Festival. One afternoon, sipping drinks with new local friends Terry and Gary Trauner on their backyard patio, Chris spotted the sudden appearance of a large bull moose making its way through the edge of their property, barely ten yards away. Chris commented that it must be such a common occurrence for them; but Gary replied that it never gets old.

In addition to our usual time spent in Grand Teton National Park, we were able to get away for a few delightful days in nearby Yellowstone, which we had not visited in a decade. Yellowstone being such a vast and varied place, it was a delight to see both the old familiar sights, and a few new ones, including recently-built visitor lodges and facilities which we viewed with mixed feelings. While there, we acquired a piece of “ledger art” from an indigenous artist, Evans Flammond, who was exhibiting his works at the Yellowstone Tribal Heritage Center, a stone’s throw from Old Faithful Inn. We had a social Christmas and Holiday season, celebrating Christmas Day at Chris’ sister Melinda’s home in Brooklyn with family and friends; New Year’s Eve with many friends a few blocks from our place at the home of Susan Copeland and Brian Mynard; and New Year’s Day back in Brooklyn.  

We’re looking forward to spending two weeks in the mild winter desert weather of Phoenix, Arizona and Palm Springs at the end of January. We’ll be visiting Chris’ brother Morgan and wife Laura living in Scottsdale, and Martin’s former colleague Toni Thompson in nearby Mesa. Then on to Palm Springs, to spend time with mom and enjoy even more warm, dry air. 

January 5th was our 33rd wedding anniversary. 

Wishing you a fine 2024.


Martin and Chris

In Memory of Shirley A. Ranshaw

Shirley A. Ranshaw

Shirley A. (Thomas) Ranshaw, age 87 longtime Iowa City resident died Thursday, November 16, 2023, at Briarwood Care Center in Iowa City.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made to Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center or Essence of Life Hospice in Amana.

Shirley Ann Thomas was born on August 16, 1936, in Johnson County, Iowa, the daughter of Fred and Marcella (Mullinnex) Thomas. Shirley attended Lone Tree High School. On May 10, 1959, she married Kenneth E. Ranshaw. Together they opened Ken’s Farm Auto Store in Iowa City which later became the first discount store in this area. They also became founding partners in Western World. Later, they developed and operated K & R Rentals, along with a number of other developments. Shirley was always supportive of Ken’s business ventures and truly a big part of them.

Shirley was also involved with the Red Hat Club, the Knee Knockers and attended water aerobics. She also loved a good movie and adored dogs. More than anything though, she had a special place in her heart for her family and friends.

Her family includes her children, Karen Tardy (Eugene), Kathy Paulsen (special friend, Fred Cox) and Kurt Ranshaw (Laurie); grandchildren, Shawn Paulsen (Laura), Brent Paulsen, Katie Kettells (Greg) and Zak Ranshaw; great-grandchildren, Lily, Jack and Jonah and Jonah’s mother, Audie Barker; sisters, Carolyn Hammer, Linda Milder, Patricia Thomas; and a brother, Darryl Thomas.

Preceded in death by her parents, husband, Ken; granddaughter, Jenna Tardy and in-laws, Jerry Hammer, Allen Milder and Sandy Thomas. 

In Shirley’s smiling memory, please eat a piece of chocolate and remember Shirley!

In Memory of Nora Lee Balmer

Elderly Caucasian woman with gray hair, pearls
Nora Lee Balmer

Nora Lee Balmer lived an inspiring 95-year life. Born to James and Gladys Nesmith on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1928, she rarely slowed down until her passing on November 1, 2023. 

Family committal services were at Memory Gardens. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the University of Iowa Center for Advancement for the Iowa Men’s Wrestling Program. 1 West Park Rd, Iowa City IA 52242.

NoraLee married Wayne Balmer in 1947. In 1958 they moved to Iowa City to join the family business, Plumbers Supply Company (PSC). Though retiring in 1998, NoraLee’s influence is still felt in the back office of PSC. 

Outside of the business, NoraLee was passionate about Hawkeye Wrestling, loved the arts and Hancher Auditorium, and gave generously to groups and causes she supported. 

More than anything Noralee was committed to her family and did everything possible to keep them connected and ensure they were loved.

NoraLee is survived by her children John (Penny) Balmer, James (Andrea) Balmer, and Mary Balmer; grandchildren Thomas (DaLayne Williamson) Balmer; Katherine (Jeff) Penland; Betsy (Greg) Kaiser; David R. Balmer, Ben (Sarah) Freeman, Jennie (Ben) Wunderlich, Julie (Ben) Tweedt, Sally (Erik) Wolf, and Matthew Gessner; 13 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. 

NoraLee was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Wayne; her son, David Scott Balmer; and her sister, Susan Johnson.

In Memory of Margery June Hoppin

Older woman with short hair and leaf themed necklace
Margery June Hoppin

Margery (Marge) Evert Hoppin passed away on July 17 at home under hospice care in the presence of her family. She was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on August 29, 1925 to John and Pearl Evert. At the age of two, her family moved to Glendive, Montana where her father was a surgeon at the Northern Pacific hospital.  Upon the death of her father in 1937, the family moved back to St. Paul where Marge graduated from Murray High School with top honors in 1943.  During the summer of 1943, she worked as a file clerk and receptionist at the University of Chicago Memorial Hospital during World War II while the Manhattan project was underway just a few blocks away.  She then enrolled at the University of Minnesota and graduated with a BA in Psychology with a minor in Economics in 1946.  While a senior in college she met Richard (Dick) Hoppin whom she married in September 1947.  They moved to Pasadena, California where Dick earned his PhD in Geology and Marge earned a Master’s Degree at Claremont College in Educational Psychology.  Following brief stays in Florida and Cape Cod, when Dick was serving in the Air Force Reserve during the Korean War, they moved along with their small son Art to a house on Melrose Court in Iowa City in August 1952.  Dick then began his long career at the University of Iowa as a Professor of Geology. During the 1950s, as the family grew, Marge enrolled in more graduate courses in child psychology and was a Research Associate at the Institute of Preventative Psychiatry at the University until 1961.  The family moved to a new house on Lee Street in 1964, where Marge lived until her recent death.

In 1965, Marge began her distinguished career at the University of Iowa in the Sponsored Programs Division.  She served as Director of the division from 1969 until her retirement in 1991. During that time, the total grants and contracts from various government agencies awarded to the University of Iowa grew from $20 million to over $122 million, which she always credited to the excellence of the proposals from the teaching faculty.  Marge was very active in the National Council of University Research Administrators that represented more than 500 colleges and universities. She served as the Council’s first female President in 1978 through 1979.  She was honored as a charter member and fellow of the Nation Academy of University Research Administrators in 1985. Marge published several articles in national journals and gave over a dozen invited presentations at various national meetings. 

Marge served on the Board of Directors of First National Bank in Iowa City from 1975 to 1993 and was Chairman from 1990 to 1993. 

Marge was a longtime and active member of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Iowa City. She freely and generously volunteered her time to numerous community activities including serving on the Board of Directors of the local Unicef and United Way campaigns, as well as the Family Planning Council of Iowa, and the Emergency Housing Project. After retirement from the University and well into her nineties, she volunteered at the Iowa City Public Library, the University Hospital, and the Kirkwood College Adult Literacy Program to help new immigrants become US citizens.  She enjoyed concerts at Hancher, was a prolific reader, and avid gardener.  Marge was proud of her community and dearly loved her many caring neighbors and friends. 

Marge was preceded in death by husband, Richard ‘Dick’, son, Arthur and brothers, John and Robert Evert.  She is survived by sons, Charles Hoppin (Bonnie) and Andrew Hoppin, and daughter, Jan Hensel (Paul) and daughter-in-law, Karla Presler; grandchildren Tim Hoppin (Kate), Dan Hoppin (Kandace), Brian Hensel (Sarah), Matt Hensel (Kristen), Anna Hensel, and Angela  Kumar (Jai), as well as five great grandchildren.  

The family would like to thank Sue Chase and all the caregivers (Alishea, Brooke, Tamara, Deb L, Deb U, Sheila, Jean, Julie, Alexis, Akyrah) and to St. Croix Hospice for all their compassionate care while she remained at home throughout the past few months. 

A memorial service for Marge will be held at the Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Iowa City on August 15th with visitation at 2:30 pm, service at 3:30, and a reception to follow.  In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials directed to either the Community Foundation of Johnson County, the UI Center for Advancement, or the Congregational Church. 

Alan and Janelle Huey Update

Janelle and I are on trip to Missoula to see our oldest, Nate and his wife Erin.  We took a side trip to the Banff area, and visited Lake Louise (pictured).  When Janelle was in the travel business, she traveled several times to Banff and Lake Louise. We had a great time seeing the sites and the glorious railroad hotels.

Alan and Janelle Huey with their son Nate and his wife Erin.

In Memory of Patricia M. Hanson

Patricia M. Hanson

Patricia M. Hanson (Pat) passed away May 21, 2023 at her home in Williamsburg, Iowa.  She was 93 years old.

Pat was born August 1st, 1929 in Albia, Iowa, the daughter of William and Dorothy (Lawson) Ford.  She married Raymond Hanson on June 25, 1954 and they had 4 children together, eventually settling in Coralville. Pat enjoyed helping others and worked as a registered nurse throughout her life.  She loved sewing and would make beautiful and elaborate dresses for her daughters when they were young and later her granddaughters as well.  She was an artist and enjoyed creating paintings and also decorating ceramic buildings for her Christmas Village.  She had a flair for interior design and assisted each of her daughters with their own home decor. Pat also loved to travel and spend time with family. Being raised during the depression gave Pat a healthy appreciation for the value of hard work and being frugal; traits that she passed on to each of her children.

Pat is survived by her beloved children, Annette Hanson, Dr. Paula (Bruce) Hanson-Garver, Dr. Laura (Dave Gustafson) Hanson, and Craig (Carol) Hanson; grandchildren, Brooke Hanson, Carter (Sarah Hooper) Hanson, Bethany Garver, Ben Garver and Dayne (Megan) Gustafson.  She was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond Hanson; grandson, Dominick Gustafson; siblings, Helen Clark and Velma Trussell.

Pat will be laid to rest next to her husband at Oak Hill Cemetery in Coralville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Pat’s honor to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Williamsburg, IA or St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Please continue to keep Patricia’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.