Delores Colton, quite possibly among the world’s most loving and adoring wives, mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers – passed away peacefully on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, at the age of 91, surrounded by family.
Born in Cedar Rapids on Dec. 8, 1929, to Mageed “Jim” David and Constance McCole (nee George), Delores (“Dee,” as most called her) was the one and only sister to four brothers: Edward, Donald, Richard and Carl. When her parents separated,
8-year-old Delores took on the roles of homemaker and caretaker to her brothers and father, which she faithfully embraced for the remainder of her time at home. This early immersion into domestic responsibility helped form her immeasurably caring and selfless nature. Two years after graduating from McKinley High School – having made countless friends and acquaintances along the way – Delores married her high school sweetheart, Russell Colton, on Aug. 13, 1950. Family, of course, was soon to follow.
Within their first six years of marriage, as the couple followed Russ’ study, service and work duties from Iowa City to Biloxi, Miss., to Evanston, Ill., Delores gave birth to three sons and a daughter – a boisterous and happy, if crowded, bunch, taking their show on the road. After returning to Cedar Rapids in 1959, Delores and Russ welcomed a fourth son and later a fifth. In 1966, after seven wonderful years at 1725 Fourth Ave. SE, the family of eight moved to 857 16th St. SE, the home that would remain the beloved Family HQ for the next 54 years. Because even as her kids grew up and moved away (and sometimes moved back in), Delores kept that big old home filled with childhood toys, books, photos, letters and clothes – items that always kept her children close to home – when not physically, at least emotionally. Mostly, she filled it with love – there was never a meal she didn’t want to cook, never a visitor she didn’t welcome with a big smile, open arms and fresh coffee. Over the years, as her children returned with their own children, it was clear to all that the home was the perfect embodiment of who Delores was – always offering warmth, shelter and joy.
Delores was always happiest at home – there was always a dress to be sewn or plant to be potted or dinner to be made. Delores was a first rate cook and baker, perfecting everything from the many dishes of her Lebanese heritage to holiday pies and desserts to dinnertime staples. But whenever she left the home, she effortlessly made the rest of the world that much better, whether it was as a preschool teacher at Merry Moppet, as a decades-long member of the choir and congregation at Calvin-Sinclair Church, or as an administrative assistant at Kennedy High School, where her love of kids and intuitive quips made her a favorite among students and earned her the apropos nickname, “Mom.” Perhaps one of the Delores’ most famous accomplishments was bringing to life Merry The Talking Christmas Tree at Killian’s Department Store at Lindale Plaza. Every holiday season for many years during the 70s, Delores would spend several hours a day sitting (squatting, really) inside the tree, employing a microphone, two-way mirrors and a genuine sense of curiosity to chat with wonderstruck children about their holiday wishes; she was an absolute natural.
Over these last four decades, Delores and Russ became grandparents among grandparents, tag teaming to shower each and every one with unconditional love, attention, adventure, conversation and cookies. As always, theirs was a home away from home – one with far fewer rules and way more rooms to explore.
In 2016, Russell and Delores moved to Edmond, Oklahoma, where son Derek and his wife Penny graciously handled the couples’ increasing medical and domestic needs and, in a recurring theme, surrounded them with grandchildren. In 2017, Russ and Delores moved back to Cedar Rapids to live with daughter Sara Long and her family, who tirelessly offered that same sense of home and family to the parents who taught us all the meaning of those words. In March of 2018, after more than 67 years of marriage, Russ passed away at the age of 89. Delores had spent many hours since reminiscing on the wonderful life they built together, shaped by their love of each other, God and family. Over the last 3 years, Delores had continued to act in her official capacity as Best Grandmother, welcoming several new great-grandkids and delighting over every visitor.
In addition to Russell, Delores was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Edward David and Donald David; and her second son, Dana Scott Colton (Denise) of Salisbury, N.C.
She is survived by her brothers, Richard (Marcia) David of Cedar Rapids and Carl David of Richland, Texas; her children, Cary (Ginger) of Lincoln, Neb.; daughter-in-law, Denise of North Carolina; Craig (Karen) of Gastonia, N.C., Sara Long (John) of Cedar Rapids, Derek (Penny) of Edmond, Okla., and Shane (Amy) of Evanston, Ill.; 18 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. She was always known for her incredible sense of memory, and she’ll forever be loved for the memories she created for the rest of us.
The family would like to extend a very special thank-you to UnityPoint Hospice, nurse Courtney and nurse aids Bobbi Jo and Judy.
Delores will be buried alongside Russell at Cedar Memorial Cemetery in Cedar Rapids. A memorial service will be held in Spring 2021.
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