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Welcome to the memorial page for

Juanita Mae Erschen

December 20, 2017

Juanita Mae Erschen died peacefully at home on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.  

Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m., Friday, January 5th, 2017 at the church of the Nativity with Msgr. James Miller officiating. Burial will follow in Mount Calvary Cemetery with military honors accorded by the American Legion Post #6. Visitation will be from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Friday, January 5th, at the church.  Leonard Funeral Home & Crematory, Dubuque, Iowa is in charge of arrangements.

She was born Juanita Mae Channell, on April 22, 1921 in Suffolk, VA to Willie Joseph Channell and Rosalie Margaret Channell.   After graduating from Hopewell High School, she earned an RN degree from Petersburg Hospital in Petersburg, VA.  During WWII, at age 21, she enlisted in the Army Nursing Corps.  Soon after enlisting she was given an assignment to care for our wounded soldiers in England.  While stationed there, she met, fell in love with and married Robert J. Erschen who was recovering from his war injuries in England.

After the war ended, they were both transferred back to the United States where Nita gave birth to their first daughter at Fort McPhearson, Georgia.  When Nita and Robert were discharged from the army they decided to make their first home together in Dubuque, Iowa, in the house where Robert grew up.  After having 2 sons and 3 daughters they built a new house at 220 N. Booth St. to accommodate their growing family.

Nita was a wonderful wife and caring mother.  She and Robert took their 5 children on many camping and fishing trips in the summer months and helped them with snowmen, snow angels and ice skating in the winter.  Nita was fond of reading to all of them from the Books of Knowledge in the evenings after their homework was finished. She inspired the children with her artistic skills.  As a member of a Dubuque art club she produced lovely figure drawings.  She also loved painting landscapes and handmade greeting cards throughout her long life.  Her flower gardens were always a thing of beauty as were her vegetable patches full of lettuce and tomatoes, herbs, spinach and green beans.

On Saturday nights Robert and Nita often joined friends for dinner and ball room dancing or made an evening of playing euchre or other card games with family and friends.  They also loved fishing and boating on the Mississippi River.   

Nita was a prolific correspondent who always made time for writing long, handwritten letters to old friends and her adult children who moved away from Dubuque. She wrote to her daughters once or twice a week for nearly 50 years.   She somehow managed to do all of this at the same time she was caring for her aging mother, Rosalie Grant, and her in-laws, Joseph and Mary Erschen.   Nita was a delightful person, full of fun and laughter.  She always had a lot to say and plenty of energy to converse with everyone.  She loved bird watching and fed the wild birds on a regular basis.  Her back yard was full of birdseed and hummingbird feeders and, of course, birds.

Nita was a devoted wife and mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and friend to many.  She was preceded in death by her parents, her in-laws and her husband Robert J. Erschen. 

She is survived by her five children:  Olivia Erschen, Joseph R. Erschen, Joan Michele (Miki) Erschen, Janice Erschen and Edward Erschen.  She also had 7 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.   She was loved by many, including her devoted caregivers, and will be missed by all who knew her.

Donations may be made in her name to the Dubuque Alzheimer’s Association or the American Cancer Society.


 Service Information

January 5, 2018

9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Church of the Nativity
1224 Alta Vista
Dubuque, Iowa 52001

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