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Dawn Wheat

Dawn Virginia (Henry) Wheat was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on December 30, 1936, and passed away on September 9, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa. She leaves behind her two daughters and their families: Erin, Scott, and (granddaughter) Delaney Smith of Des Moines, Iowa, and Dawn Elizabeth Wheat and Travis Wise (and her dog, Wilson) of New Lenox, IL. Her husband of over forty years, George Wheat, passed away in 2014, and her brother, William Henry, in 2013. She is also survived by her brother, Lyell Henry (Gretchen Holt) of Iowa City, her brother Tom Henry of Minnesota, and her sister-in-law, Charlotte Wheat, of Iowa City.


Dawn Virginia grew up in Ames, Iowa, where she attended Iowa State University. She studied General Science, with a minor in art. She had a life-long interest in science and had wished she had been a forensic artist. Instead, she was a professional illustrator for Hallmark in Kansas City, other companies in Dallas, then she taught art for a middle school in Ames, Iowa. She studied painting in Mexico City and Norway and had painted a large mural at Iowa State University. She raised ring-neck doves, which were sometimes incorporated into the kids’ art projects. She met George Wheat on a blind date to see The Godfather, and they were married six months later.


In the late 1970s, the young family bought fifteen acres outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and built a house, barns and established a tree nursery and orchard. Dawn stayed at home with her children, but with her husband launched a business called Wildlife Country. She made original wildlife paintings, painted on handmade clocks, other household items, and a series of miniatures, then sold them around the Midwest at art and craft shows. The business continued until they retired. In 2008, they moved to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.


Dawn loved her family, animals, art, and nature. She had many goats, chickens, doves, ducks, dogs, cats, fish, and other pets. As an artist, she was accomplished in painting, drawing, printmaking, basket weaving, sculpture, cooking, sewing, and even took dulcimer lessons. She will be missed by family and friends.


A memorial has been set up in Dawn Virginia’s name to benefit her church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Donations should be made out to Oakland Mills Community Church and mailed to Erin Smith, 1919 66th St., Windsor Heights, IA 50324.