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Erma Louise Gantenbein
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Obituary for Erma Louise Gantenbein

Erma Louise (Lou) Gantenbein, passed away peacefully on February 12, 2018, at Lantern Park Specialty Care in Coralville, Iowa.

Cremation has taken place, and, as a veteran, she will be interred next to her husband at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida. No services will be held.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Earl Gantenbein, in 2005 and son, Bruce Gantenbein, in 2013. She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Rex Gantenbein and Judith Powers of Laramie, WY; grandson, Jesse Gantenbein of Minneapolis, MN; and granddaughter, Sara Gantenbein; and great-grandchildren, Quincy and Eliza Coobs of Iowa City.

Erma Louise Hirschi was born May 10, 1921, in Montpelier, ID, the fourth of seven children born to Swiss immigrants, William and Marianne (Seiler) Hirschi. She graduated from Montpelier High School in June 1939. She entered nursing training in September 1939 and received her registered nurse credentials in September 1942. She worked in hospitals in Utah and Idaho until June 1943, when she enlisted in the US Army Nurse Corps.

After several months of training, Erma was deployed to England in May 1944 and assigned to the hospital in Blandford, Dorset. There the nurses converted General Montgomery’s former barracks into a hospital ward. On June 6, 1944, the hospital began treating the wounded returning from the D-day invasions. The base also treated wounded from the Battle of the Bulge in mid-December of that year.

After the European war ended in May 1945, Erma was reassigned to another hospital unit and transferred to Marseilles, France, where she and other nurses awaited further orders, but when the Pacific war ended in September 1945, she was informed she would be going home in a few months. While in Marseilles, she met Earl Gantenbein, a lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers. They spent a great deal of time together until he shipped out in October. On her return to the US in December, she contacted Earl, who asked her to marry him, which she did in March 1946.

Earl was at that time pursuing a college degree on the G.I. Bill at the University of Dubuque in his home town of Dubuque, Iowa. Erma (now going mainly by “Lou”) worked in hospitals there until his graduation in December 1949. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Muscatine, Iowa, where Earl had secured a position teaching and coaching at the high school. Their first son, Rex Earl Gantenbein, was born in February 1950, and a second son, Bruce Frank Gantenbein, was born in September 1951.

After her children were born, Lou began work as a school nurse in the Muscatine schools, a role she continued to play until her retirement in May 1979. That year, she and Earl moved to Greystone Park in Naples, Florida. Although “retired,” they were both active in the community, including organizing an annual blood drive and participating in numerous activities, until Earl’s death in 2005.

Two years later, Lou moved to Iowa City; she lived at Melrose Place until 2014, when she took up residence at Lantern Park in Coralville. She resided there until her death.

Her friends and family remember her as kind, generous, and compassionate. Her optimistic and humorous outlook on life, coupled with her enthusiasm, sparkling eyes, and big smile, made her loved and respected by everyone she encountered.

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Erma Louise Gantenbein, please visit our Tribute Store.


Event Information

Cremation has taken place.

Cemetery Details


Florida National Cemetery

6502 S.W. 102nd Avenue
Bushnell, Florida 33513


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