Ruth Suckow's Grave (and Ferner Nuhn's Grave)
Ruth is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Ruth and Ferner had lived here, and it was Ferner's home town.
In 2006, we (Cherie and Mike Dargan) began what has become an annual tradition: having dinner with Barb Lounsberry and then visiting Ruth's grave in mid to late May and placing flowers or a wreath as a way to show our respect.
Ruth is buried next to her father, Rev. Suckow. Her mother and sister are buried elsewhere, so the first time we visited, it seemed rather lonely. The graves are back in a corner, not far from the bluff and river below.
I remember asking where Ferner was buried. Since he had remarried, we wondered if he might be buried out in California. However, as Mike began doing research, we learned that he wasn't buried there at all. His body had been returned from California, and he was buried in Greenwood, next to Ruth, in 1989.
In 2006, several of us were interviewed by a reporter for the Cedar Falls Waterloo Courier, and the resulting article appears below.
Article from Waterloo & Cedar Falls Courier, July 9, 2006
"Group works to preserve Iowa writer's work 40 years later."
By EMILY CHRISTENSEN, Courier Staff Writer
CEDAR FALLS --- Four decades have passed since Ruth Suckow penned a novel or short story, but a small group of Iowans and literary buffs from around the country are working to keep her memory alive.
Suckow, who during her time was called one of the leading fiction writers in the United States, was born in Hawarden. She lived in Cedar Falls for several years and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery.
Barbara Lounsberry, president of the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association, said she came into the organization late and has enjoyed catching up on the author's work.
"She's captured what it was like to live in Iowa at that time," Lounsberry said. "She writes wonderfully of women and children and older people. She writes about the Midwest and Iowa. I think she captured that part of life maybe better than anyone."
During her lifetime Suckow lived in many communities across the state. Some, like Hawarden and Earlville, have areas dedicated to their famous resident.
She published eight novels and three collections of short stories, but the books are getting harder to come by other books continually appear on library shelves.
Cherie Dargan an association member, collects Suckow's books and hopes to someday make them available to educators who want to use the material in their classroom.
"It's difficult to encourage people to read something they can't get copies of," Dargan said.
Lounsberry said some of Suckow's work is part of a classroom. An Arizona teacher is using the author's short story "A Start in Life" as inspiration for her Hispanic students to write about their lives.
Suckow's first story, "Uprooted," was published in Midland magazine. In 1924 she completed her first novel, "Country People." It was also during the '20s that H.L. Mencken, who is often considered one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, ranked Suckow among the top 10 American fiction writers.
In 1929, Suckow marred Cedar Falls native Ferner Nuhn, also an author. Her health forced her to move to California in the early '50s.
For members of the association, preserving Suckow's work 40 years after her death is priority No. 1.
"Technology changes, but human nature does not. There are still sacrificial sons and daughters and still people leaving the farm or growing old," Lounsberry said. "Though the conditions may change, the conflicts remain the same. These are still truths and her work speaks to them so powerfully."
The association, which meets annually, is always looking for new members. For information, logon to www.ruthsuckow.org .
Contact Emily Christensen at (319) 291-1520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ferner Nuhn's stone, installed Spring 2009, thanks to his niece, Barbara Camano.
When Barbara and Michael first took Cherie to see Ruth's grave, she asked where Ferner was buried and neither one knew. After some research, we learned that Ferner was buried beside Ruth, but that no headstone had ever been erected there to mark his place.
We felt we had solved an important mystery and contacted his niece, who made arrangements to have a stone that looked just like Ruth's put in place.
The three stones: Ferner, Ruth, and her father, William, In May of 2010. Ferner was buried beside Ruth in 1989, but did not have a stone for almost 20 years.
Michael Dargan, Vice President of the RSMA and Barbara Lounsberry, President of the RSMA pose by the three stones in 2009.
Decorating the three graves, mid May 2011
Barb and Mike pose here behind the graves of Ferner and Ruth.
Cherie and Mike pose beind the graves.
Ferner and Ruth, side by side. It's hard to believe that 20 years went by before Ferner had a stone to mark his grave.
And, more recently -- 2017