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Mary Lou Dickel, 88, reached her eternal resting place on March 21, 2022, at Rose Haven Nursing Home in Marengo, Iowa, where she had been lovingly cared for the past 4 years.

Mary Lou Aiken was born August 1, 1933, in rural Victor, the daughter of Ralph and Jesse (Shine) Aiken. The family moved to a smaller farm west of Marengo during The Great Depression. Mary Lou graduated from Marengo High School in 1952 and later received a teaching degree from Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls (now the University of Northern Iowa).

She married Willard Dickel in Marengo on Oct. 23, 1954. Willard and Mary Lou purchased the Aiken Farm in 1957. They lived there until Willard’s father died in 1961, at which time the family moved to the Dickel house in Amana. The family moved back to the Marengo farm about 1967 and all five children received much of their education at Iowa Valley Schools.

Mary Lou loved farm life and always a had a large garden that provided a bounty of potatoes, tomatoes, corn and other staples. Flowers were her passion, though, and she devoted as much space as possible to growing all her favorite varieties which she took much pride in showing at the Iowa County Fair every summer. Her nurturing nature also extended to all the animals on the farm, but especially her beloved dogs, cats, and canaries. Stray animals somehow sensed they would never be turned away if they found their way to Mary Lou.

About 1978 Willard and Mary Lou bought land in northern Missouri and farmed in partnership with son Chris. Mary Lou continued her gardening, and also kept a flock of chickens on the farm. She made many friends with her new neighbors and gladly hosted her growing tribe of grandchildren where they were able to enjoy endless afternoons fishing and taking short drives with Grandma. She never knew a stranger, and had an uncanny ability to find commonality with anyone she struck up a conversation with.

Around 2000 Willard retired from farming and he and Mary Lou moved back to the Dickel house in Middle. They enjoyed countless excursions to area casinos. Willard took over the gardening when Mary Lou’s health started to fail.

Mary Lou’s greatest joy in life were the family Christmas gatherings. Her greatest wish was that there would be another new baby to hold in her arms at the next Christmas. That wish was granted nearly every year.

Mary Lou was preceded in death by her parents; three brothers, William, Albert and John; and two sisters, Janet Aiken and Edna Michalek.

She is survived by her husband Willard; five children, Sharon (Terry) Roberts of Marengo, IA; Dean (Mary) Dickel of Mineral Point, WI; Joan (Russ) Jones of Williamsburg, MO; Chris (Donna) Dickel of Green Castle, MO; and Danny (Mandy) Dickel of Marengo, IA; in addition to 16 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.

Mary Lou’s service was held at the Middle Church in Middle Amana on Friday, March 25, 2022. Burial was at the Middle Cemetery.

Memorials in Mary Lou’s memory can be made to the Iowa County Fair and Safe Haven of Iowa County. Kloster Funeral Home, Marengo is assisting the family with arrangements.

Online condolences may be left at www.