Charlotte Edwards

Born in Hesper, IA
Born on Mar 29, 1920
Departed on Mar 10, 2018

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Charlotte Edwards, Memorial services at 11:00 AM on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at First Lutheran Church. Rev. Steve Knudson will officiate. Inurnment at the Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery. Friends may call at the Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home from 5 to 7:00 PM on Wednesday March 14, 2018.

Charlotte (Johnson) Edwards completed her life journey and joined her beloved husband, Cleo, on the morning of Saturday, March 10, 2018.

She was born in Hesper, IA on March 29, 1920 and raised on a farm near Mabel, MN with her Father, Mother and three younger brothers, Odell, Maynard and Ervin Johnson. This remarkable group of siblings, all living into their 90th year and each still with us until March 10th, were the subject of an article in the August 6, 2017 edition of The Gazette.  ( 

She is survived by son, Douglas Edwards of Cedar Rapids; and daughter, Charise Edwards (Richard) Schwarm of Lake Mills. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Andrea Edwards and Hope Edwards (Peter) Konrad, and great-granddaughters, Vivien and Zoe, all of Cedar Rapids, and grandsons, Richard Grant Schwarm and Edward Schwarm, both of Des Moines.

A highly intelligent young lady, Charlotte excelled in her high school studies, played on the girls basketball team and joined other talented students in singing with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. Charlotte so loved school that upon graduation, she received a certificate for never having missed a day of school, unusual in a farming community.

Although talented in Mathematics and wishing to become a teacher, she instead was persuaded by her Father to travel to Cedar Rapids and study to become a beautician.

During this time, she was introduced by her brother Odell to a young man who won her heart through conversation and a mutual love of dancing, Cleo Edwards. They married in 1942, just before Cleo joined the Army to help fight the Second World War.

After Cleo completed basic training and during the time he was stationed state-side, Charlotte joined Cleo at FT Devens, Massachusetts. While there, due to her mathematical ability and work ethic, Charlotte was hired and trained by the US Government to work at the Russian Embassy, programming one of the very first IBM computers, to assist the Russians in the war effort.

After the end of the war and upon returning to Cedar Rapids, her IBM computer skills led the local forerunner of Alliant Energy to attempt to recruit Charlotte to work on their new IBM computer. However, by joint decision, Charlotte chose to instead focus her efforts into that of homemaker and partner with her husband. As her husband Cleo became a successful Life Insurance agent and sole proprietor, Charlotte began to do the bookkeeping for the business, a task she continued for more and 50 years, well into the 21st century.

Charlotte was a longtime, active member of The P.E.O. Sisterhood (Philanthropic Educational Organization) an international women's organization with a primary focus on providing educational opportunities for female students worldwide. Additionally, she was a member of First Lutheran Church, where she performed many tasks over the decades, from teaching Sunday School to regularly assisting her husband in fund-raising activities.

She was involved in financially supporting and in helping to raise money for a wide variety of charitable organizations as a partner with her husband, Cleo, such as the St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation and Four Oaks, by whom Charlotte was one of the first four honorees at the inaugural banquet for the Oak Leaf Society in 2000.

Charlotte and Cleo helped found and actively supported local social groups such as Merry Mix and The Camelot’s and participated for many years in planning and preparing quarterly, rotating site, multinational dinners for couples. Having learned to cook as a young girl with a chronically ill Mother by helping to prepare daily farm meals for her Father and three younger brothers, over time Charlotte developed into a close-to gourmet level cook who ended up owning more than 250 cookbooks related to the preparation of food from around the Globe.  This is understandable, as Charlotte and Cleo traveled the world, visiting more than 60 different countries and all continents, save for Antarctica. A great number of these trips were shared with two of the greatest life friends, Dr. James and Beverly Reinertson, for whose friendship both are eternally grateful. 

Charlotte and Cleo loved to regularly go dancing and did so well into their 80s. An avid Bridge player for many decades, Charlotte also participated for years in golf and bowling leagues.

Most dear to Charlotte was her family. From an early age, she frequently took her children to all of the usual activities such as weekly Library reading programs and Playtime Poppy performances, plus more ambitious outings such as symphony concerts and performances by International artists. After such concerts, she always stopped for Ice Cream, an incentive for her children’s good behavior during the next outing.

She was a tireless yet joyful provider of love, support and transportation for her husband, both of her children and her grandchildren. She was unwavering in her efforts to assist those she loved and was truly a giver of time, talent and love. 

Charlotte/Mom/Grandma – Thank you. Our memory of your example will continue to help guide us for the rest of our lives.  A memorial fund has been established.