Rachel Lynn Elson-Canfield, 63, died following a courageous fight against melanoma, on May 15, 2017, at her home in Hot Springs, Ark., surrounded by the love of her husband, Ted, sons, Nathan and Ben, family and her faithful companions, Samson and Delilah.
Rachel was the first daughter to Charles Lee Elson and Nancy Ann (Netherton) Elson, arriving at 6:50 a.m. on Aug. 28, 1953. She was born in Leon, Iowa, where she graduated from Central Decatur High School. During her youth, she participated in a wide variety of activities, including basketball, vocal music, instrumental music, art, drama, and many church activities. She had a love for horses and any other critter, often bringing home strays or injured animals. Most free time was spent riding her horse, Flicka. She was baptized at age 8 and joined the United Methodist Church on May 9th, 1965.
Following high school, she was accepted into Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Biology. She then attended Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., where she obtained her Master’s degree in Speech Therapy. Nathaniel her first son, during her first marriage, was born in Stillwater. Following graduation from OSU, they lived for a brief time in Albuquerque, N.M., and she became a mother for the second time to Benjamin. Her time in Albuquerque solidified her preference for Southwestern culture and style, which ultimately led to many of her artistic endeavors.
Following a move to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a brief time at home, Rachel became employed by Grant Wood AEA as a speech and language therapist. It was a career where her incredible organizational skills merged with her creativity. She worked in the elementary schools and had a passion for helping children grow and learn. Rachel married her soul mate, protector, and best friend, Ted on 2/21/1987. Her family expanded to include Ted’s five children and raising all seven children was a focus for much of their marriage. She continued to be actively involved in church at St. Paul’s United Methodist church. There, she and Ted taught Sunday school classes, played hand bells, and were actively involved in the Saturday Celebration service, where she provided music for 22 years. She also served as President of the United Methodist Women, prior to moving from the area.
She retired in 2011, to pursue her dream of creating and selling art, with a specific focus on artistic gourd creations. For the first few years, she experimented and perfected her art, while enjoying travel and camping with Ted. In 2015, Ted and Rachel moved to Hot Springs, Ark., which provided greater opportunity for fulfilling her dream, closer proximity to her youngest son Ben with his wife Frances, and much better weather. Together they created their ideal home. Her dream was further fulfilled with an art studio in her back yard and acceptance of her art in a well-established gallery in downtown Hot Springs, the Artist Workshop Gallery. She quickly became integrated into Hot Springs participating in her local Diamondhead community activities, Lion’s club, and First United Methodist Church, where she fell in love with a new group of friends in the Saints and Sinners class and again played hand bells.
She is survived by her mother, Nancy Elson, husband Ted, sons Nathaniel Iverson (Julie Barst), Benjamin (Frances) Iverson, and step children Chris, Cheri, TJ, Chad (Kristina) and Todd (Shelly) Canfield, 12 step-grandchildren, her brother Dr. David Elson (Julie); and sister, Sylvia Anspach (Larry) and their children.
It is said that “art is intelligence having fun” and that a little piece of the artist’s heart goes into each creation. Rachel’s intelligence and creativity, combined with her big heart, big smile and love for fun endeared her to friends and family alike. For those who have a piece of Rachel’s art, you have a piece of her heart and mind, which will continue to live on. Her prayer would be that each piece gives you great joy.
The family is grateful for all who have loved Rachel and Ted, helping with her care in a variety of ways during her illness. We would particularly like to thank Linda Mason, whose daily care and love were far beyond what we could have imagined, the Saints and Sinners Sunday school class for their prayers, thoughts and tremendous meals. Many extended family and friends, who also provided love and support while at home. We thank Dr. Deborah Bursey, her endocrinologist at UAMS, who is an outstanding clinician who consistently went above and beyond with great care and compassion. Dierksen Hospice, particularly Roy Lambert, RN and Melissa Wimsett, RN, who were instrumental in meeting her goal of staying at home.
Visitation was held in Hot Springs at Caruth-Hale Funeral Home. Services were May 26, at Loving Chapel United Methodist Church in Leon, Iowa. A private burial was at the Leon Cemetery.
Memorials may be directed to First United Methodist Church of Hot Springs, Ark.; St. Paul’s United Methodist Church of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or Loving Chapel United Methodist Church in Leon, Iowa.