Kendra Lynne Thorgaard, 64, passed away on May 31, 2023 after a heroic and unflinching 6 year battle with cardiac sarcoidosis, metastatic bile duct cancer and chronic myelogenous leukemia. She was born August 22, 1958 to Tom and Betty (Stueck) Wilson in Vinton, Iowa. She was preceded in death by both her parents. She is survived by her husband of 39 years, Greg Thorgaard; two daughters, Heather Thorgaard of Chicago, Illinois and Samantha (Andrew) Spicer of Austin, Texas; one son, Erik (Reagan) Thorgaard of St. Peters, Missouri; and two granddaughters, Sylvie Lynne Spicer and Lyla Marie Thorgaard. Also living are a sister, Kim Wilson, of West Des Moines and a brother, Tom Wilson, of Chicago, as well as beloved nieces and nephews.
Kendra graduated with a BSN from the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa in 1980 and worked as a floor nurse at University Hospitals as well as in the radiation therapy outpatient clinic. She retired from nursing to raise her family in Ottumwa, Iowa, but returned to work in later years as an ophthalmic technician in her husband’s ophthalmology clinic. She met her husband, Greg, while in Iowa City in 1981 at a party where she innocently persuaded him to see her tropical fish aquarium. They subsequently enjoyed 42 beautiful years together, marrying in 1984.
Her main passion was always her devotion to her family. However, she also loved gardening, with an additional flower garden seemingly cropping up out of nowhere every few years. Kendra loved running: she qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon in 2000 at the age of 41, recording a time of 3:37:15, which placed her in the top 30% of all women runners. She also has the distinction of being the first Des Moines Metro girls cross country champion ever in 1975. Other hobbies included skiing, traveling (she visited all 50 states), Hawkeye sports, biking, and cooking. She was an amazing cook and famous for her carrot and sour cream chocolate cakes as well as other delicious dishes. Many of her favorite recipes have been immortalized in her cookbook, “Kendra’s Kitchen”. Her friends and family will miss her unconditional love and support, her unwavering loyalty, and her propensity to interrupt and pepper their stories with multiple questions.
Her remains will be cremated and a private service and celebration of life for family and close friends is forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, please direct any donations to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation or Ottumwa Trails.