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Ramona (Kosbau) Gaukel

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

Ramona (Kosbau) Gaukel — Moni, to many who knew her — died peacefully at home July 31 surrounded by family. She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2019, and her strength and positive outlook through difficult surgeries and treatments inspired her family and friends. Moni was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1969, and was raised primarily in Altoona and Waukee near Des Moines. She attended Dowling High School and the University of Iowa, where she majored in history and Spanish and graduated with honors. She studied abroad in Spain and became fluent in the language. While a student in Iowa City, she met her future husband, Erich Gaukel. (They were due to celebrate 27 delightful years of marriage on Aug. 19 of this year.) After graduation (Moni in 1992 and Erich in 1993), they lived briefly in Des Moines before career moves took them to Berkeley, California, and Elmhurst, Illinois. They married and eventually returned to Des Moines in 1999 with 2-year-old twin daughters, Geneva and Hanne (now 25 years old). A son, Leo (now 17) would follow. Moni devoted herself to raising them, and she cherished every moment. Having children profoundly shaped Moni as a person, and she tapped a seemingly endless supply of love, kindness, compassion, patience, and thoughtfulness. These qualities also underpinned her years of professional work for the United Way of Central Iowa, YMCA of Greater Des Moines, YMCA of San Francisco and Community Support Services of Brookfield, Illinois. Moni loved exercise and the outdoors, passing countless early-morning hours and lunch breaks at the old Riverfront YMCA in Des Moines and its replacement, getting rowdy with her workout buddies in spin and body-pump classes. She frequently rode her bike to work, and even after beginning cancer treatment, she sometimes rode her bike or walked several miles to chemotherapy sessions. At home, she loved to relax on a secluded front patio in the shade of oak trees. In addition to her husband and children, she is survived by her mother, Peggy Ward; sister Camie Stamper (Tim); brother Steve Kosbau (Bonnie); stepbrother Randy Ward; stepsister Dru Benson (Bruce); and nieces and nephews she adored: Natalie, Timothy, Owen, Abby, Nicholas, Jonathan, Caroline, Jonas, Spencer, Nat and Lindsey. Moni had a special bond with Erich’s parents, siblings, and extended family. In recent years, she became acquainted with family members from Fort Dodge she hadn’t previously known, and she was grateful for these new connections. She was preceded in death by her stepfather, Thomas E. Ward; grandparents Goldie H. and Othel T. Forrester; father-in-law, Dennis E. Gaukel; and step-nephew Gavin M. Ward. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, at Waveland Hall at Plymouth Congregational Church, 4126 Ingersoll Ave., in Des Moines. A livestream link will be available at


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