Online Obituaries and Tributes
Beth Diane Larson Young
June 13, 1947 - December 09, 2016
Beth Diane Larson Young, 69 died Friday December 9, 2016 in Palm Bay, FL due to complications with Multiple Sclerosis. Beth was born June 13, 1947 to Keith and Grace Danner Larson in Muscatine, Iowa. She grew up on a farm in Pleasant Prairie just outside of Muscatine, Iowa enjoying barnyard wiener-roasts and riding her horse. The family farm was named LYNETH FARM, created after the Larson daughter’s names Lynne and Beth and the name was painted for all to see on their barn. Her cousin Theresa Danner Ludeking remembers Beth helping her get on Beth’s horse Dusty. She admired Beth’s big brown eyes and long brown hair that curled. Her sister Lynne remembers their July 4th camp outs where they hung blankets on the clothes line to improvise a tent and almost always got rained out in the middle of the night. She says that Beth was the type of girl who took her shoes off in church so that her toes could wiggle and that Beth loved driving the tractor and family pickup, and bringing the baby pigs in the house in winter to keep warm.
In high school Beth developed lifelong friendships. This group of high school women who called themselves The Quigley’s and the support they provided each other was so very special to Beth. Looking through her memory books, there are so many pictures of her with her Quigley friends. We are so thankful she had these special friendships throughout her life.
She fell in love with Bill Young and the two were married in 1967. They attended Muscatine Community College and then Baylor University and Beth graduated with an Elementary School teaching degree. She really enjoyed teaching, always bringing hands on experiences to the classroom. She became known to many in Wapello, Iowa as the Butterfly-Caterpillar Lady after many years of feeding and hatching caterpillars into butterflies in the classroom. When her son Josh was in graduate school, he worked with her to supply her classroom with a special type of caterpillar he was studying. Other classroom experiences were hatching chicks and growing a worm farm. Jenny remembers her telling the story of how she had the students assess the contents of the worm farm on their desk tops and how one student found baby worms!
While teaching in Wapello, Beth had the opportunity of a lifetime to coordinate an enrichment program called Unlimited Problem Solving. Here are some of the many exciting activities she was blessed to lead her students through: Invention Convention, Orienteering, Stock Market Game, Career Week, Who Am I (students represent a historical figure, complete with costume and speech, and class guesses who they are), Genealogy – Discovery of your roots, Graveyard Cleanup, Student Council, Recycling, and publishing a book by students entitled “Early Iowa Home Remedies”.
Beth really enjoyed gardening as well. Early on she made terrariums and later focused on her perennials and strawberries. Anna remembers working with Josh to cut up a ton of jalapeno peppers for her to freeze! She always had two wooden butterflies hanging as decorations on her house. A simple letter she wrote shows her love of gardening and her great style:
I have on the AC
My daisies are all over
And the irises are blooming
And the columbine
I picked ten strawberries
Beth was a wonderful teacher, friend, and mother. Her three children, Jenny, Josh, and Anna grew up enjoying so many picnics, climbing trees, sledding, swimming, and special Holiday traditions. There wasn’t a Christmas we weren’t in awe of the magic of Christmas morning, and we all enjoyed eating fresh snow with a little vanilla and sugar! Anna remembers her dressed for Halloween with a lab coat and witch’s hat, asking all of the kids if they wanted a trick or a treat. Cat food or candy? And there was one Easter we had real chicks following us down the church aisle in support of the children’s message.
She was a fantastic Grandma, she loved her grandkids dearly. A trip to Grandma’s over the Holidays and in the summer meant lots of cousins play time, science projects, chicken hatching, water balloon fights, homemade ice cream with strawberries, cinnamon rolls, caramel corn, watermelon, potato soup, and chili soup, Christmas cookies, fondue, and reading books and telling stories! She always had a book to read and told imaginative cousin’s stories, a tradition she passed down from her own father Keith. Looking back at many of the pictures we have of her show her reading to her grandchildren. She has 8 wonderful grandchildren Sam, Will, Michael, Clare Hagele, Kaya, Joely, Mae Young, and Chloe Kopecek.
Beth was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in her 40’s and the disease became more progressive in the last 15 years of her life. She endured a lot but even in the last months of her life she still focused on giving complements or words of advice if she could. Some of the best ones being, “You are so beautiful,” or “your hair is so pretty.” Recent words of advice were related to the passage of time - how when your children are young, you wished to spend every moment with them and felt guilty if you couldn’t, but that really time is different than this and what matters most is if you try your best and show them you love them. The struggles she endured throughout her adult life are a testimony to her strength but what defines her is her enduring love, her willingness to ultimately accept life and people even with flaws in the light of love, and her fantastic enthusiasm and sense of wonder. May we learn from this and bring these as gifts to our own children, in celebration of her life.
An event is being planned for this summer in Muscatine, Iowa to celebrate Beth’s life. There will be more information posted here as plans are finalized. Please send your favorite memories of Beth to her family, or share them here in the online Guestbook. Her Facebook page will also remain active for some time to include photos and memories.