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Monday, May 2, 2016

Flower garden at Careage Hills honors beloved Aide

Monday, October 30, 2006

Susan Hart
Susan Hart was employed at Careage Hills Nursing Home in Cherokee for seven or eight years. She worked there as a Certified Nurses' Aide for four to five years, left, and returned three years ago. She was described as a very vital person, loved by residents and fellow staff members alike.

On February 16 of this year, the 55-year-old Susan died quite unexpectedly, sending many people into a state of shock and disbelief. Several of her friends, including three Careage Hills residents, formed a "garden committee," with the idea of creating a flower garden at the nursing home in Hart's memory - an appropriate memorial, as Susan Hart was an avid gardener who loved flowers.

The committee- Paul Paltz, Gloria Carroll, Lillie Keller, Ruth Rutherford, Diane Phipps, Dawn Updike, Pam Pierce, Helen Nonken, and Chrissy Ellis planned the garden, received donations from several people, and set October 18, Susan Hart's birthday, as the dedication date.

This heart-shaped stone lies in Susan Hart's Garden. Photo by Dan Whitney.
Members of Hart's family, many of whom reside in Missouri, where Susan, too, was born and raised, were invited to attend the dedication, and accepted. Present at the dedication Wednesday were Hart's husband, Bob, his mother Flossie Hart, Susan's mother, Dorothy Kassen, and Susan's sisters, Kim Kassen and Amy Roysten.

The ceremony was to be held outside, at the garden site, but, Iowa being Iowa, the weather didn't cooperate, and the large crowd gathered inside instead.

Director of Nursing Sherrie Todd welcomed the guests, and introduced Di Phipps, a Restorative Aide at Careage Hills and member of the garden committee. Phipps started the program off with a song, sharing her wonderful vocal talents with the gathering. Careage Hills owner Dan Myers then read a poem he had written about his former employee Hart.

Since it was Susan's birthday, Phipps led the group in both the "clapping" birthday song and the traditional "Happy Birthday."

Family members and others were then invited out to the garden, located outside the front door, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

It was obvious from both the ceremony and the presence of the garden that Susan Hart was a much-loved part of Careage Hills. Her physical presence will be missed, but her spirit will live on in the hearts and minds of her friends and family.

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