Erna N. Fels, age 96 of Middle Amana, died Sunday, January 31, 2016, at Colonial Manor in Middle Amana, Iowa, following a short illness. Funeral service: 1:00 p.m., Friday, February 5, 2016, at the Middle Amana Church, Middle Amana, Iowa, with Elder Peter Hoehnle officiating. Burial will be at the Homestead Cemetery. Visitation: 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, February 4, 2016, at the church. Memorials may be made to the Amana Heritage Society or the Amana Church Society.
Erna is survived by three children, Larry Fels, Lake Forest, CA, Allen (Shelley) Fels, Aliso Viejo, CA, and Sharon (David) Phillips, Bettendorf; six grandchildren, Lara Fels, Brussels, Belgium, Sarah (Adam) Anderson, Irvine, CA, Brittany (Jason) Stilwagner, Aliso Viejo, CA, Alexa Fels, Mission Viejo, CA, Chris (Jamie) Phillips, Olathe, KS, and Danny Phillips, Chicago, IL; nine great-grandchildren, Parker, Boden and Aiden Anderson, Kennedy Stilwagner, Everett Fels, Avery, Carson, Cooper and Landon Phillips; a sister-in-law Wilma Neumann and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Martin H. Fels in 2000; three sisters, Marie (Willy) Pfisterer, Hattie (Bill) Mantz and Rosa (Fred) Mantz; five brothers, twins Gustav (Emilie) Neumann and Carl (Louise) Neumann, twins Paul Neumann and Robert Neumann (in infancy), and Willie Neumann.
Erna Lillian Neumann was born January 4, 1920, in West Amana, Iowa, the daughter of Arno and Rosa Schoenfelder Neumann. She received her early schooling in West Amana and graduated from Amana High School. She also attended the Cedar Rapids Business College. She married Martin H. Fels, October 19, 1940, in Homestead where they lived most of their lives. She worked at the Amana Society Main Office, taught preschool and was a bookkeeper at Swartzendruber Lumber and Construction and at the Amana Heritage Society. She was a member of the Amana Church Society, Amana Heritage Society, Iowa County Genealogy Society, Amana Arts Guild and Homestead Welfare Club.
Erna was a lifelong learner and had a variety of interests. She enjoyed the adventure of travel and spent many hours happily tending to her numerous flower beds. Her real passion was genealogy. She painstakingly traced the German ancestry of the Neumann and Fels families back for many generations and researched many other Amana families as well. This led to her assisting the Amana Society in their family heritage requirements. It was only natural that she would work for the Amana Heritage Museum to help uncover the Amana past. Erna was a church song leader for 45 years and translated many of the songs in the Amana Hymnal from German to English. Other interests included knitting, quilting, cross-stitch, music, reading and crossword puzzles. She loved birds and spending time with her family.
The family wishes to extend a sincere thank-you to the staff at Lakeview Village and Colonial Manor for the love and excellent care given to Erna during her stay, and to Essence of Life Hospice for their compassionate support during her final days.