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Iona “Mickey” Bornholdt, 98, of Atlantic, Iowa, passed away on Sunday, October 31, 2021, at her home, of natural causes.
Iona Bornholdt was born to John Henry Marxen Sr, and Lola May (DeBord) Marxen on May 2, 1923, two miles west of Atlantic, Iowa. As a tiny baby her dad called her his “Little Mickey,” her nickname “Mickey” stuck for life. She grew up with her three siblings, John Henry Jr., Ralph, and Shirley.
They lived on her Grandpa DeBord’s place until she was about 14 and though they moved several times after that they were always on a Southwest Iowa farm. She attended country school through the 8th grade and without available school buses she couldn’t get into town for high school. That never bothered her as she didn’t feel the need for a diploma to be a farmer—she simply loved the land, the animals, and even the dirt!
She was united in marriage to Carl Bornholdt on January 31, 1945, at Grace Presbyterian Church in Council Bluffs, IA. Mickey came down with mumps on their wedding day, and gave them to nine of his younger siblings, (Carl never got them). It may have taken a little while for her mother-in-law to warm up to Mickey after having to nurse her 9 other kids with mumps back to health, but warm up she did!
The Bornholdt Clan bonded and spent every holiday, birthday and special occasion together for decades after. Gathering at special times with the Marxen side was also something she looked forward to.
Mickey and Carl farmed together for 52 years; living 14 years east of Marne and worked side by side in every aspect of raising crops, cattle, hogs, chickens, turkeys, and three children: Calvin, Karen, and Sherry; in addition to many cats and a dog. The couple owned five different John Deere tractors and Mickey learned to operate them all. They had up to 200 chickens at a time to sell eggs from the pullets and use the roosters for fryers. She would dress up to 25 in one day. When grandkids came along, she spent countless hours showing them what farm life was all about; one of their favorite memories was making mud pies by the garage. Her own time was enjoyed with the neighborhood Happy Homemakers Club and Marne Eastern Star, and tending the myriad flower beds and gardens around their home. Mickey’s large vegetable garden was bountiful and, with help from Carl and the kids, she canned or froze a lot of her abundant harvest.
Tragically in 1996, son Calvin was killed in an April car collision near his San Diego home and that same year in November Carl passed away of a stroke.
Mickey stayed on the farm until she decided to sell the farm and move to a little house she bought in Atlantic in the summer of 1997. She greatly enjoyed the perennials that bloomed every year and planting her own flowers, especially the red lipstick rose she was given as a special gift. At least 25 of the family continued to gather at Mickey’s little house each year on Carl’s birthday Dec. 1st. for oyster stew and chili with all the sides and desserts they could eat. At age 97, Mickey was still scooping the snow outside both her front and back doors so she could feed the birds and make way for guests and helpers. She loved seeing cardinals.in her yard and eating the seeds she put out.
Mickey is survived by her daughters Karen (Bill) Johnson of Avoca and Sherry (Ken) Duffey of Iowa City; eight grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; sister Shirley McFadden of Atlantic; daughter-in-law Roseanna Bornholdt of San Diego, CA; sister-in-law Linda Marxen of Fayetteville, NC; and brother-in-law Robert Bornholdt of Elkhorn, and sister in-law Darlene Hess of Harlan. Also many extended family and friends.
She is preceded in death by her parents, John Sr. and Lola Marxen; husband Carl; son Calvin; two brothers John Jr. and Ralph Marxen; great-grandson Jackson Johnson; brother-in-law Wayne McFadden and seven of Carl’s 9 siblings: Helen, Janis, Ross, Arlin, Everett, Donald, and Max.
A Memorial gathering will be hosted by the family at a later date. The family encourages that if you have a favorite memory of Mickey to write it on the guestbook page under her obituary on the funeral home website.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be given to the Atlantic Public Library (Mickey loved to read) or to Meals on Wheels of Atlantic.
Roland Funeral Home in Atlantic, Iowa is caring for Mickey’s cremation and her arrangements.
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