By Alta Cook
Born on a farm in Washington County in 1934, Dolores Duwa (now Krotz) was the seventh of 11 children of L.F. (Doc) and Agnes Duwa. She became the first of the clan to attend the Catholic school in Richmond taught by nuns. Father Walter Boeckmann and his brother, Beck, often played ball east of the church with the seven enrolled pupils. Transportation to school was a buggy drawn by horses that had to be fed at school every day at noon. During the winter, heated bricks were placed in the closed-in buggy for warmth. Dolores remembers walking during the summer from her farm three miles away to attend Friday Masses.
After graduating from eighth grade at 16, Dolores did housework for farm families. She was especially busy when a new baby arrived! This often meant cooking meals for the men, doing laundry, cleaning the whole house and even putting a 5-year-old on a school bus daily after braiding her hair. Dolores remained at one home for nine months.
After marrying Leo Krotz when she was 19, Dolores and Leo moved to Iowa City and became the parents of three daughters and one son. Their son, Greg, was born with physical and mental disabilities. The doctors didn’t believe he would live six months, but due to the love and care given him at home, he lived 48 years. He earned 19 bowling trophies, participated in 35 years of Special Olympics, played the accordion at the Veterans Hospital and cheered on the Hawkeyes.
To help pay his medical expenses, his mother sewed and did alterations for 7 ½ years making innumerable drapes for individuals and stores. She worked from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to this work, she once made 23 dance costumes in three weeks.
Dolores and Leo later built a business with Amway and had many distributors in the organization. One time the couple brought back more than $4,000 worth of products to sell. Dolores still has several Amway customers as far away as Maine, Chicago, California and Oregon.
Some 25 years ago, Leo passed away after 35 years of marriage. As a 79-year-old widow, Dolores still lives an active and productive life. She prays the rosary daily; helps stuff church bulletins; visits the sick at home, in the hospital and at nursing homes (at one time visiting seven different homes); makes a special soup for sick people who have difficulty swallowing, and serves as a greeter and eucharistic minister at St. Mary’s in Iowa City. She has belonged to the parish for 60 years.
Dolores has been a Catholic Daughter of the Americas for more than 20 years. She led the Life Savers campaign for six years and was recognized as the top fundraiser in Iowa. All proceeds went to domestic abuse victims in the Iowa City area. For another fundraiser, she sold Christmas ornaments picturing local Catholic churches. Recently, she was named historian of Court Craigie 94 and collected the last 53 years of names of officers, plus pictures and information on activities to compile into a book.
In April 2003, Dolores started the Red Foxes chapter of the Red Hat Society, which now has 50-plus members and meets monthly for lunch, a program and fun. For eight years, group members organized a float in Coralville’s Fourth of July parade. She had created a 5-foot red hat that received much acclaim.
For more than 15 years, she has worked county elections.
In addition to her three daughters, she has six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
As busy as she is, Dolores was able to travel to Medjugorje and the Holy Land.
She sets an example for others. She has the determination — at times through adversity — to be not just a thinker, but a doer.
(Alta Cook is a retired Iowa City language arts teacher, Golden Apple award winner and inductee into the City High Hall of Fame.)