Shirley Ann Leeper

A funeral service for Shirley Ann Leeper, 88, of Decorah, Iowa, formerly of Indianola, who passed away on August 28, 2021, will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, September 3 at Overton Funeral Home, Indianola, IA.  Interment will follow at 2:30 p.m. at Layton Township Cemetery, Walnut, IA.

On June 26, 1933, Hugo and Mildred (Burkey) Paasch welcomed Shirley Ann Paasch into the world with big brother, Ronald, who had arrived in 1928. She was born in the same little farmhouse where her mother had been born back in 1900! As part of a farming community and family, Shirley attended a one-room country school through 8th grade and even rode to school on her pony, Dixie. Later she attended Walnut High School and graduated in 1951.

Growing up in Iowa, Shirley was involved with 4-H with her mother and father as club leaders. She participated in many projects including baking, sewing, and refinishing furniture. She enjoyed baton twirling in her teen years which continued through college. In high school she even coached some elementary girls who formed a team to perform at basketball games. After high school, she went to Simpson College where she met Ross Leeper, her late husband, while participating in the freshman orientation talent show in 1951. After two years at Simpson College, she received her teaching certificate and taught in Redfield for a year before moving to Shelby where she taught third grade. Interestingly, Shirley taught at the same Shelby school, in the same room, that her mother had taught in 32 years earlier. They both had the same number of students: 33! She and Ross were married in 1956 before spending two years in the Army at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Following his discharge from the Army, they moved to Eagle Grove, Iowa.

Teaching has been a passion for Shirley. She enjoyed teaching children early in her career and then in 1975 she began teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to the numerous refugees coming into Eagle Grove. She eventually became a foster mother for two Vietnamese high school boys, Thien and Hieu Tran, who are part of the family to the present time.  Upon Ross’s return to Simpson College’s music faculty in 1989, she decided to finish her four-year degree.  She quipped, “And, so, only forty-three years after coming here as a freshman, I graduated May 1994...and still had the same boyfriend!”  She also continued teaching ESL in Des Moines after moving to Indianola. She not only enjoyed teaching the English language to her students, but also taught them vital life skills, as they were unaccustomed to many American ideas and customs.

Family was very important to Shirley. She enjoyed time with her parents, brother, children, and grandchildren as well as many friends and acquaintances. She loved seeing new places and went on many trips in Europe and North America with her family, brother, and friends. Shirley was a people-person and had many friendships over the years. She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, two brother-in-laws and two sister-in-laws. Shirley is survived by her brother, Ron Paasch, Walnut, Iowa; sister-in-law, Janet Jenkins; children, Dr. Jeffrey Leeper, Decorah, Iowa; Kristen Goedtke, Colorado Springs, CO; foster sons, Thien Tran and Hieu Tran; grandchildren, Rachel Leeper, Jessica Goedtke Santillanes, Hannah Leeper, Ethan Leeper, Rebecca Goedtke, Miranda Goedtke, Jonathan Goedtke, Mikaela Goedtke; and great-grandchildren, Jazzlynn Goedtke, and Ivory Santillanes; nephews, Dr. Gary Mapes, Craig Mapes, and Chris Paasch.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7:00 p.m., Thursday, September 2 with family present to greet friends from 5 to 7:00 p.m. at Overton Funeral Home, Indianola. To view a complete obituary or sign an online condolence, visit our website


The Eagle Grove Eagle

The Eagle Grove Eagle
P.O. Box 6
304 West Broadway
Eagle Grove, IA 50533
Phone: 1-515-448-4745
FAX: 1-515-448-3182

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