I lost a dear friend this past week. Her name was Georgie Nupen. She lived an eventful, inspiring and passionate life into her 90s. I had the pleasure of meeting Georgie my first month as senior services manager for the City of Des Moines back in 1996. She was on the city senior services advisory committee at that time. When I heard of her passing, I smiled. I couldn’t help it. She was always ready for a laugh, an adventure and was a fierce promotor and defender when it came to any program or project that involved Des Moines Senior Center. I could not let her passing go without sharing her legacies( which are many) with the Des Moines community.
Georgie was a proud retired nurse, a lover of music and a passionate gardener. She met her husband Cliff nursing him back to health after a car accident. As Cliff declined from frequent strokes, Georgie had her full circle moment, nursing him again. She didn’t care that he was 2 feet taller than her and more than double her weight, she kept him home as long as she could and then visited him in the nursing center every day to make sure they were nursing her Cliff properly. She booked transportation to bring Cliff to any program, meeting or activity at the senior center. He proudly wore his Des Moines Senior Center sweatshirt just for her.
She was the woman you wanted on your team when you needed to make the community better for all ages. Georgie bull dogged the City of Des Moines for almost 18 years and finally got her public greenhouse in a city park ( Sonju Community Garden pictured above). She was an effictive early director on the Des Moines Legacy Foundation and always represented the strength and resilience of her generation. Her dear friend, Phyllis Moore, attended many a Legacy Bayside Brunch fundraiser with Georgie and when she passed, due to Georgie’s strong belief in the Des Moines Legacy Foundation, Phyllis bequeathed the foundation a very generous part of her estate for a children’s playground, which is a feature of the Legacy Foundation’s No Kids Left Inside Playground Challenge.
Georgie created, planned and coordinated the still popular Horticulture trips for the senior center. She told me it was her way to “give back to the senior center for all the center had done for she and Cliff.” For me it was the other way around. Georgie gave the center staff, volunteers and participants her gift of Never give Up, Do what’s right, and have a darn good time doing it!!
As an active member of the Des Moines Garden Club, she was instrumental in planting a Blue Star Garden in honor and memory of WW II veterans near the entrance to the Des Moines Marina.
Geogie served on the city’s Master Plan committee for Parks, Recreation and Senior Services, as well as one of the bond campaigns for a new activity center for the Des Moines community. She brought her gang of girls from Huntington Park to all of the center’s fund raising FUN events! At the center’s Murder Mystery Dinner, Georgie ended up being the murderer and for those of you who were there, remember what she grew in her garden?!?!? It was hysterical. Photos above show George “in theme” for two of Des Moines Legacy Foundation’s annual fundraiser, Bayside Brunch at Anthony’s Homeport. Georgie and her pals were the protesters outside the restaurant for our them Bootleggers, proudly holding her sign made by then city councilmember Carmen Scott that read, “Lips that Touch Liquor Shall Never Touch Mine.” She stole the show. For our Woodstock theme year at the brunch, Georgie and her pals came dressed as hippies. My funny, happy, have a good time friend proudly waved her Burn Your Bra sign.(another great Carmen Scott touch!) Yep, she stole the show again that year, besides buying our special VIP table for she and her friends for 8 consecutive years.
There is so much more I can share, and she would giggle at the photos I have provided to go with this tribute. But, what is most important to me is please, when you see a pretty garden in Des Moines, you see an older adult involving themselves in their community on city commissions, planning groups, volunteer associations, senior center special events; remember one of Des Moines finest legacies……Georgette Nupen.
Thanks Scott. I loved her so……………
– Sue Padden