Breathing: In Memory of Rose Ann (Broussard Cooper) Anderson

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I’ve been silent on this blog recently because I had much bigger things on my mind. I received a phone call a couple weeks ago that my mom was in the hospital, but not to worry. Abbreviating the story, roughly a week later the word “hospice” was mentioned. I started scrambling to make it home in time. My sister worked very hard with the hospital to keep her occasionally conscious until I arrived, on Saturday. Monday, the hospice consult; Tuesday, she was moved to hospice; Wednesday, she died, with three of her six kids in the room, and two of them literally at her side, with our hands on her shoulders and arms, gentle and soothing. We had spent the day telling stories to the hospice workers of how incredible she was, inspired by a workshop I’d attended a few days before with Linda Strodtman about storytelling in hospice and palliative care. So the last words she would have heard were ones of praise and love.

The artwork above is one of her creations. I have many more pieces of her artwork that I will be putting into an online form so others can enjoy them. The family has collected a number of photos of her, and the funeral home is making a life video, but this is my personal favorite photo of her, from a trip she gave my daughter as a high school graduation present, taking her, me, my sister Mary all on a trip to New Orleans to show just a small part of her Cajun heritage.

New Orleans 2000

Yesterday, I found a blank book with a quote on a cover that reminded me of her. I grabbed copies for all my sisters and niece. The quote is:

“Beauty was hers, in all its brightness, and she was determined to embrace every shape, line, and color imbued in her spirit.”

My sister, Amy, who is the executor, allowed me the privilege of expanding the official obituary with details from family memories, to be part of the funeral program. Here is the expanded obituary.

Rose Ann Anderson died Wednesday, May 22, at Israel Family Hospice House in Ames. Rose was born December 24, 1935 in Ogden, Iowa as the daughter of Morris and Florence (Broussard) Cooper. Rose was delivered by her grandfather, Dr. Thaddeus Constantine Cooper, at home in the family farm house.

She graduated from high school and attended Iowa State University. She married Arthur Raymond Anderson in 1955 in Ames, Iowa. Rose worked at Iowa State University as the Administrative Assistance in the Departments of Agriculture and Statistics, where she also served as AFSCME Union Steward, retiring in 1998. While her children were young, Rose taught piano lessons, playing organ at both St. Cecelia and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Churches in Ames, as well as many other churches. During this time she also studied music, organ performance, worked as a nurses aide, and volunteered as a Girl Scout leader. While studying music, she performed with Musica Antiqua, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra Choir, and other musical groups.

Rose strongly identified with both her Iowa heritage and her Cajun roots, which revealed itself in her love of both the music and the food (especially crawfish, boudin, sasparilla, and pralines, which she carefully taught some of her children to pronounce prah-lenz, not pray-leans). Many people are aware of Rose’s deep love of beauty in art and music, her incredible creativity with crafts, and her delight in games. She enjoyed competitive bridge, strategy and word games, and many types of literature and books.
Fewer are aware that she collected kaleidoscopes and stamps, was an avid rockhound, climbed Baldy Mountain in New Mexico, delighted in the memories of sitting on stage with Victor Borge, and had a long standing correspondance with Peter Schikele of PDQ Bach fame.

Rose’s favorite flowers were pansies, lilacs, and African violets, but we usually gave her roses. Her favorite colors were turquoise, raspberry, and purple, but she also loved rainbows. Her favorite meal at Hickory Park was a Saucy Southerner followed by a David’s Delight (with extra malted), but her children fondly remember her lasagna at family holidays. Her favorite music ranged from classical (Bach and Chopin), through ragtime and world music (especially Cajun and Irish), to pure pop (ABBA and Mannheim Steamroller). She favored playful music, and was known to secretly dance to especially joyful tunes when she thought no one was looking. Her hobbies are too numerous and wide ranging to list, but she is especially remembered for her generosity, creativity, and teaching with her papercrafts, rubber stamping, quilting, tatting, and decoupage. Beyond “Mom” and “Rose” or “Rose Ann,” she was also called Rosie by her mother, as well as Mama and Mamacita by some of her children.

Rose is survived by her children, Patricia Anderson of Ann Arbor, Michael Anderson of Nevada, Amy (Brian) Hauge of Boone, Mary Goddard of Plattsmouth, David Anderson of Madison, Peter (Jim Pilliod) Anderson of Santa Rosa; four grandchildren, Zera Anderson, Luke Veninga, Scott (Megan) Hauge, and Kristina (Alex Danielson); and six great-grandchildren, Jake, Brayden, Carter, Nathaniel, Ethan, and Liv.

She was preceded in death by her parents, brother Connie Cooper, and a son-in-law Michael Goddard.

Online condolences may be directed to

More photos are available in a Pinterest board:

The official obituary is available at the Ames Tribune.

Rose A. Anderson Dec. 24, 1935-May 22, 2013: