Rheta Ann Thurlow Sponsler, 90, of Humeston, IA passed away Thursday, December 28, 2023, at Vintage Hills Assisted Living, Indianola, IA.

Rheta was born to Delbert Oren “Pete” and Jessie Rebecca (Bates) Thurlow in a farmhouse south of LeRoy, IA on December 26, 1933. She and her sister, Sandra, grew up south of LeRoy on the family farm. She was a charter member of the LeRoy Merry Makers 4H club, showed prize calves at the Decatur County Fair and presented demonstrations at the Iowa State Fair. She graduated from LeRoy High School in 1951. She attended Iowa State University from 1951-1953.

Rheta was united in marriage to Harley Elvin Sponsler on July 5, 1953, at the LeRoy Presbyterian Church. Before starting their family, Rheta worked for the Agricultural Soil Conservation Service. They purchased a farm north of LeRoy where they were blessed to be the parents of four children: Susan, David, Dan, and Bill. Rheta said that her proudest achievement was being a mother.

After her youngest child started school, she went back to college and completed her bachelor’s degree at Graceland College. She completed a post-graduate teaching certificate at Drake University. She taught Special Education in the Mormon Trail School District for 19 years and was very fond of all her students.

Rheta was a member of the LeRoy Presbyterian Church since 1950. She was an Elder in the church, Clerk of Session and served on the Parish Council of the Yoked Churches. She had been a member of the LeRoy Ladies Aid, the Yorel Study Club, Progressive Homemakers Club, Home Service Club, and the Humeston Public Library Board.

Rheta and Harley enjoyed traveling and took many trips in the enjoyable company of Harley’s relatives and their good friends. She loved to read, complete jigsaw puzzles, and spend many hours crocheting blankets for family and friends. She was an excellent cook and seamstress. She was always happiest when surrounded by her family and loved helping her grandchildren and watching her great grandsons play.

She was preceded in death by her parents, parents-in-law, Marie and Gerald Sponsler; three brothers-in-law, Jay, Ernest, and Bill Sponsler; sister-in-law, Roberta Sponsler; daughter-in-law, Heidi Smith; and nephews, Mark and Steve Sponsler.

She is survived by her four children: Susan (John) Sponsler-Carstarphen of Richardson, TX, David Sponsler of Lakeville, MN, Dan Sponsler of Humeston, IA, and Bill (Becky) Sponsler of Indianola, IA; five beloved grandchildren: Holly (Joe) Throckmorton of Humeston, Heidi (Dallas) Hamilton of Humeston, Tyler Sponsler (Renessa Roberts) of Promise City, IA, Christina Sponsler (Kyle Cramer) of Des Moines, IA, and Andrew Sponsler of Phoenix, AZ; and seven precious great-grandsons: Caden, Jace, Austin, Carter, Nash, Strait, and Kasey. She is survived by her only sister, Sandra Thurlow of Benton Harbor, MI; three sisters-in law: Jeanette Sponsler of Spokane, WA, Donna Sponsler of Vista, CA, and Janet Sponsler of Humeston; nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends.

Funeral services will be held at the Humeston Christian United Methodist Church in Humeston on January 4, 2024, with Pastor Donna Murphy-Ceradsky officiating. Burial will be in the Humeston Cemetery.