Rhonda Lea Gearhart, 70, passed away at her home Monday, May 20, 2019 after a courageous battle with cancer since 2015. Visitation will be Friday, May 24 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Geilenfeld Funeral Home, Oelwein, and 1 hour before funeral services on Saturday. Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m., Saturday May 25 at Grace United Methodist Church, Oelwein with Pastor Rick Johnson officiating. A private burial will occur at a later date in Woodlawn Cemetery, Oelwein. A memorial fund has been established to create a scholarship in Rhonda’s name.
Rhonda was born April 24, 1949, in Sumner, daughter of Joe and Maxine (Schmudlach) Dean. She graduated from Oelwein Community High School in 1967. Rhonda worked for the Oelwein Schools, Oelwein State Bank and the Ames State Bank previously to marrying the love of her life, Jeff Gearhart on June 2nd, 1973. They were united in marriage at the Zion Lutheran Church in Oelwein. Two sons were born to this family, Jason and Mitch. Rhonda was all about family and worked diligently to create a healthy family environment and was very proud to pass this environment along to her sons’ families.
She then moved to Dallas Center and Rhonda worked at the Benton Bank for 1 year before they moved to Jesup. After another year, they moved to Oelwein making it their last move. After her 2 sons started school, Rhonda went back to work part time and then full time for 29 total years at K-mart. She became the department manager for a variety of departments at one time or another, electronics, appliances, jewelry, clothing before retiring on Halloween in 2008.
In her spare time, Rhonda and Jeff spent much of their time following their boys around in a variety of sporting events. Rhonda always had a passion working with her flowers and found earning the community Spiffy Award to be very rewarding for all her effort. She also loved to shop, especially at Goodwill and always tried to look her best. She also enjoyed antiques and as a hobby she and Jeff sold antiques in consignment stores. Playing cards was also enjoyable to Rhonda. Rhonda was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. She loved all the time she spent with family and they will miss her great love and support. The 5 grandchildren were special and they all loved her ice cream birthday cakes.
Rhonda is survived by her husband, Jeff of Oelwein; her two sons, Jason (Michelle) Gearhart and their children, Ray, Libby, and Sara of Oelwein and Mitch (Alyson) Gearhart and their children Clara and Abe of Grimes, Iowa; her mother, Maxine Dean of Oelwein; a brother-in-law Dave (Nancee) Gearhart of Oelwein and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father Joe Dean.
The family would like to thank the compassionate doctors along the way with her journey; Dr. Anthony Leo, Oelwein; Dr. Merfeld and especially Dr. Wilbur from Hall-Perrine in Cedar Rapids. The family also would like to thank all the compassionate employees with ST. Croix Hospice that were so wonderful for Rhonda’s care.
A mother’s love is a unique gift that touched our hearts and lasts forever. What a gift God gave us.