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Donald M. Varnum
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Obituary for Donald M. Varnum

Donald Marvin Varnum was born on May 20, 1934 to Phineas (PD) and Annie (Reitzler) Varnum in Tama, Iowa. Don grew up in Tama, and later on a farm near Malcom, Iowa. He attended Malcom High School graduating in 1951. He graduated in the top 5 of his class.

He enlisted in the United States Marines after high school. After completing basic training at MCRD in California, he was assigned to radio operator school, and served as a radio operator using Morse code on the USS POCONO, in Norfolk, Virginia.

After leaving the Marines in 1955, Don moved to Ames, Iowa where met Marjorie Ruth Paulson of Story City, Iowa. They were married on December 29, 1957. Children Paul, Kirsten and Dan were born to this union. Don and Marj were also foster parents. A number of children came to live in their home over the years. In 1970 LaVonne came to live with them and was later adopted. After Marj’s death in 1983, Don met and married Patricia Tomlinson, and they later moved to Ankeny.

When Don and Marj were first married, Don worked at Bournes in Ames. In 1966 Don and Marj started the Suburban Mobile Home Park and later the Suburban Apartments both of which are still in Story City today. Don sold American Family Insurance in Ames and at the Gilbert Corner for many years. He took pride in providing excellent service for his customers. After retiring from the insurance business he and son Dan bought, a box factory in Ankeny. Finally, Don once again worked in insurance business, on behalf of a local agent in Ankeny until he retired for the last time in 2011.

Over the years Don enjoyed participating in The Nevada Twirlers, Toastmasters, Kiwanis and the Lions Club both in Story City and Ankeny. He particularly enjoyed his work with the Lions Club Kid Sight program testing the vision of preschool and younger children.

Don taught his family how to live life with integrity and love, while still having fun. Hard work, hard play, and family were always priorities. Don never met a stranger, and if he was a part of your life, you were better for it.

Don passed away on March 14, 2017 at Green Hills Care Center in Ames, Iowa.

He was preceded in death by his wife Marjorie, his parents PD and Annie Varnum, an infant brother John Robert, infant grandson Kevin Flygstad, son-in-law William McCollaugh, and sisters-in-law Ruth Varnum and Marlyne Varnum.

Don is survived by his children LaVonne (Steve) Flygstad of Ellsworth, Paul (Christy) Varnum of Ames, Kirsten McCollaugh of Ankeny, and Dan (Denise) Varnum of Ankeny; grandchildren, Amy (Jay) Barquist, Lisa Flygstad, Danielle (Sean) Neugent, Michelle (Zach) Robertson, Kelsey Teeter, Breanna (Jake) Belay, Marcus Varnum, and Keaton Green; great-grandchildren Blake Barquist, Brenna Barquist, Brant Barquist and Phineas Neugent; his two brothers Frank Varnum of Lake Havasu, Arizona, and Tom Varnum of Largo, Florida; and many nieces and nephews.

Don is also survived by his wife Patricia, and her children Susan (Dennis) Albaugh of Ankeny, Rick Tomlinson of Ankeny, and Brian (Mitzie) Tomlinson of Grand Cayman BWI; grandchildren Tara (Matt) Meredith, Wendie (Jay) Fagen; Tiffany (Jason) Loutsch, Tawnie (David) Fariñez, Meghan (Sheila) Tomlinson, Crystal (Chris) LaVoice, Ryan Tomlinson, Rikki Sue Tomlinson; and great-grandchildren Ben Fagen, Macy Meredith, Julianah Loutsch, Jacob Fagen, Maya Meredith, Jenna Fagen, Milan Loutsch, Valentina Fariñez, and Quinn Tomlinson.

Soderstrum Funeral Home in Story City is assisting the family with arrangements.

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Donald M. Varnum, please visit our Tribute Store.

Previous Events





5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Grace United Methodist

624 Elm Ave.
Story City, Iowa 50248





2:00 PM
Grace United Methodist

624 Elm Ave.
Story City, Iowa 50248





2:45 PM
Story City Municipal Cemetery

980 Grand Avenue
Story City, Iowa 50248


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