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Vern Fleagle, 88, of DeWitt, Iowa, passed away peacefully with his wife by his side on Saturday, January 20, 2024, at Fieldstone of DeWitt.
A Memorial Visitation will be held February 16, 2024, at the DeWitt United Methodist Church, from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. A Celebration of Life Service will be held February 17, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. in the church, with a luncheon to follow.
Verlin M. Fleagle was born on June 2, 1935, in Fairfield, Iowa, the son of Claude Everett and Alice Irene (Briggs) Fleagle. He attended a one room country school through 8th grade, then graduated from Fairfield High School in 1953. He was active in track and field (specializing in the ½ mile and mile) and enjoyed his job at a local greenhouse. Vern got his B.A. degree from Parsons College in 1958, and his M.A. from the University of Iowa in 1968. He continued to take extra course work throughout his career. Vern taught for 6 years at Hudson High School in Hudson, Iowa, and then for 30 years at Central Community High School in DeWitt, from 1964 to 1994. Vern also taught at Clinton Community College from 1990 to 2000. He was recognized for his excellence in teaching with many awards, including the Chemistry Teacher of the Year from the Iowa Academy of Science in 1989, the Governor’s Award for Science Teaching in 1989, and the Teacher of the Year at Central High School in 1991. In DeWitt, Vern taught biology, chemistry, and team-taught physics. He created new courses of physiology in 1969 and biochemistry in 1974.
Vern was given the assignment of being the yearbook advisor, serving in that role for over 20 years. He was also head of the science department and advisor for the science club, helping them create an outdoor garden on school property, which was named in his honor.
Vern was known for being an attentive husband, father, and grandfather. He had a great sense of humor and loved to joke and play funny pranks on others. He had a generous nature, and was always quick to help family, friends, neighbors, students, and even those he didn’t know. He loved to learn and was a hard worker.
He took pride in his teaching and wanted to make a positive impact on his many students. Vern developed strong and supportive relationships with his students by being available to them just to talk and to encourage them in their own pursuits. He encouraged students to develop critical thinking skills by saying “I do not recall” to their many questions. He also extended his teasing to his students by telling them that his birthday was February 31st, 1917, and that his middle name was Aloysius. He created experiments for students to make elephant toothpaste and baby shampoo cake. Many fondly remember Vern’s “Swear Jar,” which he used to raise money for broken lab equipment.
Vern had a painting business for many years (during summers while teaching and full-time after he retired). He painted many houses in the DeWitt area.
He was an avid gardener and was known for his beautiful flowers and plants, this being a passion since his early years when he worked at a greenhouse. He was also skilled at floral design and for many years made floral and evergreen arrangements for his church and family. He also enjoyed woodworking, painting, genealogy, photography, traveling, and spending time with his family.
He was also involved in many volunteer activities, serving on the DeWitt Board of Parks and Recreation, Foster Care Review Board, Lions Club, serving as past president of the Noon Lions, the DeWitt Zoning Board of Adjustment, teaching CPR for the American Red Cross, and numerous committees at the DeWitt United Methodist Church.
Vern married his college sweetheart, Catherine “Kay” Stark in 1958 in Ogden, Iowa. They celebrated 65 years of marriage. Together they raised three children, Steve (Anne) Fleagle, Iowa City, Scott Fleagle, DeWitt, and Kristen Green, Johnson City, TN; grandchildren, Chris (Clarissa) Heffner, Tim (Jacklyn) Fleagle, and Sam Fleagle; great-grandchildren, Hunter, Henry, and Charlie Fleagle. He is also survived by a brother, Norman, and nieces and nephews.
He was proceeded in death by his parents Claude and Alice, his brother Frank, his sister Iona, and sisters-in-law, Carol Fleagle and Sue Fleagle.
Memorials are suggested to the family, to be used for a scholarship for the advancement of science education that will be established in Vern’s name.
Arrangements are in the care of Schultz Funeral Home, DeWitt. Condolences may be expressed at www.schultzfuneralhomes.com