Obituary Swenka Mary photo

Mary Katherine Swenka

Mary Katherine Swenka, 76, of rural Tiffin went home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, surrounded by family after a lengthy illness.

Funeral Services will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 1, at Grace Community Church, 2707 Dubuque St. NE, North Liberty, with Rev. Ruby Bongolan officiating. Visitation will be at the church on Friday, April 30, from 4 to 7 p.m. Burial will be at Oak Hill Cemetery in Tiffin. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Tiffin United Methodist Church or to the Mary Swenka Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Due to the pandemic, please wear a mask and be respectful of social distancing.

Mary was born in Fort Dodge on Jan. 19, 1945, to George A. and Katherine M. (Lindhart) Williams and graduated from Iowa City City High in 1963. She earned her degree in education and psychology from the University of Iowa in 1967.

Mary met the love of her life, George Swenka, at City High. The high school sweethearts were married on July 3, 1965, at the Congregational Church of Iowa City. Their marriage of 55 years was lived on their family farm near Tiffin, where they raised their two children, Steve and Suzy. Mary was a dedicated farm wife and mother. She and George raised Purebred Angus Cattle together throughout their married life.

Mary’s greatest joy was serving the students of the Clear Creek Amana School district where she taught for over 50 years. She was still substitute teaching every day until COVID-19 closed schools down in March 2020. She cherished every child that she met, and everywhere she went in the community she was met with hugs from kids excited to see her outside of school. Her love for kids was apparent and they loved her back. Students with special needs had an even more special corner of her heart.

Mary was an active member of the Tiffin United Methodist Church. She loved God and her church family, and she joyfully taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. She was never met without a smile on her face and a story to tell. She was a very proud grandma and never ever missed an opportunity to tell others about all the great things her grandchildren were accomplishing. She was an avid supporter of CCA activities and a diehard Hawkeye fan.

Left to cherish her memory are her loving husband, George; son George Stephen “Steve” (Amy) Swenka of Tiffin; daughter Suzanne Marie “Suzy” (Thad) Barker of North Liberty; her seven beloved grandchildren: Jake and Will (fiance Jessica Field) Swenka, and Kaylie, Brandon, Haidyn, Kira, and Drew Barker; her siblings: Beth (Ed) Hicks, Joe (Paula) Williams, and Lara (Bill) Brown, and her sisters and brothers-in-law: Jean (Kenny) Kintzel and Bev (Dick) Snakenberg. Her memory will also be cherished by many nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends and countless current and former CCA students whose lives she made brighter over her 50-plus years of dedication to them.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Capt. George A. and Katherine Williams of San Diego, Calif., and by her in-laws George J. and Marie Swenka of rural Tiffin.

The family wishes to extend its heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Craig Champion, her physician of 50 years, who faithfully called to check on her in her final weeks even after her care had been moved to the UIHC.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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