Eilene Ione (Baalson) Busch, aged 84, of Maquoketa, Iowa, died Oct. 16, 2016, at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa.
A celebration of Eilene's life was held Oct. 29, 2016, at the First Lutheran Church in Maquoketa. Burial was at Mount Hope Cemetery, Maquoketa.
Eilene was born Jan. 31, 1932, to Rev. Elmo Baalson ’26 and Dora (Sandvig) Baalson in Minneapolis. She was later joined by twins Clarence and Clarice and sister Marilyn. The family moved from Hayward, Wis., to Waterville, Iowa, where their father was the minister to two small country churches. They grew up helping on the small parish farm allotted to the minister's family to supplement his salary.
Eilene graduated from Waterville High School in 1950, and played forward on the girls' 1948 State Championship basketball team. There were no divisions at that time, so their tiny school played the much larger city teams.
She graduated with a B.A. degree from Luther College, majoring in Social Science and the Bible. While at Luther, she sang in the Nordic Choir, sang the “Messiah,” participated in women's intramurals, was on the yearbook staff, and was part of the Dorian Society, the frontrunner to Luther's Dorian Festival. Beginning her lifelong commitment to serve others, Eilene earned a Master’s of Social Work degree at the University of Minnesota.
Her first position was at Lutheran Social Services in Mason City, and served St. James Lutheran as the Choir Director. One Sunday, her friends introduced her to the new ministerial intern, Emmett Busch. After standing and talking in the hallway for over two hours, they realized that the lights were off, everyone was gone and the church was locked. Eilene and Emmett were married on Sept. 1, 1957.
Eilene continued her social work career with the Department of Human Services in Alison and Dubuque. While her children were in school, she was a substitute teacher in the Bellevue and Andrew school systems. She finished her paid career with 20 years as the Jackson County Hospital social worker. Eilene also served on the boards of Families of Northeast Iowa, the Iowa Board of Social Work, the Jackson County Board of Health, and the Jackson County Regional Health Care Center.
Eilene had a life-long passion for music. In her later years, her days revolved around her piano and organ students' lessons and activities. She directed church and community choirs for 40 years.
Eilene was often described as the "Energizer Bunny." Her energy level and list of things she could accomplish in a day was dizzying. She was an avid golfer, quilter, and bowler. Her vacations took her fishing and cruising to foreign ports. She made dozens of Norwegian cookies at Christmas for gifts to her friends. She learned rosemaling, a Norwegian decorative painting, in 1976, and painted year round, giving her art as gifts or donating the items as fundraisers for the church, the hospital and Ohnward Fine Arts Center.
Eilene is survived by her four children, Brian Busch of Windom, Minn.; Cheryl Busch ‘82 of Denver; David Busch ‘85 (Lora (Larkin) Busch ‘88) of La Crosse, Wis.; and Eric (Cindy) Busch of Clive, Iowa; and five grandchildren, Andrew, Brandon (Carolyn), Shira, Trinity and Blake. She is also survived by two sisters, Clarice (LaTrelle) Smoot ‘55 of Moro, Ore.; and Marilyn Baalson ‘64 of Chicago; a brother Clarence Baalson ‘55 (Donna (Christianson) Baalson ’58) of Clear Lake, Iowa, many nieces and nephews, and hundreds of current and former piano/organ students and their families. She was preceded in death by her husband Emmett, her parents, baby sister Doris Elmira, and daughter-in-law, Kayla (Rasmussen) Busch.
The family wishes to extend a special thank you to the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa and especially it's CEO, Geoffrey Lauer ‘82. Your help and support navigating the difficult path of caring for family members with brain injuries is deeply appreciated. www.biaia.org
Memorials may be given to the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa, Luther College, Hospice of Jackson County, or First Lutheran Church of Maquoketa.
The Carson Celebration of Life Center in Maquoketa is caring for the family. Online condolences may be left at www.CarsonAndSon.com.