Judith Zeien, 74
Judith Zeien, age 74 of New Hampton, died following open-heart surgery on Sunday, May 30, 2021, at MercyOne North Iowa in Mason City.
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Monday, June 7, 2021, at the Hugeback-Johnson Funeral Home and Crematory in New Hampton. Private family interment will follow at a later date.
Friends greeted the family an hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Online condolences for Judy's family may be left at hugebackfuneralhome.com
Judy was born on Dec. 16, 1946, at her parents’ home in Allison, IA, and she was the middle child of Fred and Betty (Pfaltzgraff) Bangs and grew up in the small Butler County community.
She attended school in Allison and was a member of Allison-Bristow’s Class of 1964. After graduating, she took a job with the Allison Tribune, where she was the newspaper’s society editor, which was basically the 1960s version of “social media!”
In 1967, Judy and some friends attended a dance at the Rivera Ballroom in Janesville, where she met a young man named Norm Zeien, an Alta Vista native who was a student at DeVry Institute of Technology in Chicago at the time. On that night, a true love story was born. Judy lived in Allison; Norm lived in Chicago — cities that are 337 miles apart — yet in so many ways, they were inseparable as Norm made countless drives back to Iowa to see the girl of his dreams.
They exchanged their wedding vows on April 19, 1969, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in New Hampton, and began their married life in Chicago. When Norm finished school, they moved back to Iowa and settled in New Hampton.
Their family grew to include Barbara, Becky and Deb, and the three Zeien daughters grew up in a fun-filled home with a mother who ran the household with those famous words, “Just wait until your father gets home.”
Judy worked a variety of jobs, including a 17-year stint in the Food Service Department at Linn Haven Healthcare and Rehab, but what people will always remember about Judy is that she loved everyone. She enjoyed cooking, and there was always an “extra seat” at the Zeien dinner table. And there were always leftovers that were packed into old margarine containers or ice cream pails that were sent home with visitors.
She had a zest for life and loved camping and fishing, playing cards, her flower gardens and talking her husband into going for a drive.
Judy loved holidays — especially Halloween and Christmas. She loved Halloween costumes and haunted houses, and everyone knew Judy’s house would be decorated to the hilt for the holidays.
Her Easter Egg hunts she held for her nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren were the stuff of legend. She’d get her children to hide 300-plus Easter eggs, but they never really counted them so you’d be able to find some of those eggs pretty much all year around.
For a while, Judy worked as a telemarketer, and, trust us, she was the world’s best telemarketer. Just ask Norm, who took on countless projects he didn’t want any part of but began with Judy saying, “You could do that.”
Judy was a heck of a mom, but she found her calling when she became a grandmother. She adored her grandchildren and her “greats.” She taught them the art of “tomfoolery.” A day with Grandma Judy provided memories that will last them a lifetime.
And maybe that’s the best way to describe Judy’s life. It was memorable because she understood that her time, her humor and her love were the three most important gifts she could give to her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her friends and her community. Halloween, Christmas and Easter will never be the same without her, but the memories she gave those who knew and loved her will forever be etched into our lives.
Survivors include her husband, Norm; three daughters, Barbara Dempsey of Alta Vista, IA, Becky (Gene) Scroggins of McGregor, IA, Deb Rahlf of New Hampton; Jim Baker of Charles City (just like a son to Judy and Norm); nine grandchildren; fourteen great-grandchildren; two brothers, Don (Janet) Bangs of Bristow, IA, Gary (Mabel) Bangs of Springfield, VA.
She was preceded in death by her parents, son-in-law, Bob Rahlf and several aunts and uncles.