Obituary of Suzanne P. Popelka
Suzanne Paula (Landsverk) Popelka was welcomed into her heavenly home on December 29, 2023. Suzanne was born in New Hampton, Iowa on February 25, 1948, the daughter of Selma (Robinson) and Paul Landsverk. She was preceded in death by her brother Lars. She is survived by her husband of 53 years Stephen, daughter Amy (David) Mineau, son Jeffrey (Stephanie) Popelka, grandchildren Elizabeth and Andrew Mineau, and Ryan and Blake Popelka.
Suzanne descended from Peter Landsverk, an early émigré from Telemark, Norway who settled in rural Northeastern Iowa and founded the first Evangelical Norwegian Lutheran Church in Saude, Iowa. Suzanne’s childhood was filled with scenes of rural life, including riding to church for her baptism and winter Sunday services in a horse drawn sleigh, as well as attending a one room schoolhouse where she was taught by her aunt Alveda. Suzanne’s parents farmed near Jerico, Iowa until she was in the third grade, and then moved to nearby Waterloo.
Following her graduation from West High School, she became the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a Bachelor of Science in English in 1970 from Iowa State University. While at Iowa State, Suzanne met Steve Popelka in speech class. Romance blossomed and they married two days after graduation, then immediately embarked on a life far from rural Iowa. Suzanne always said Iowa was a “great place to be from” and that it gave her a firm foundation centered on family and faith. Nevertheless, she was thrilled to spread her wings and explore the world.
Suzanne raised her family while serving as an Air Force spouse for 30 years, moving thirteen times to bases from California to Maine, and spending eight years overseas in Greece and England. During their Air Force service, Steve deployed many times overseas with Suzanne being the sole keeper of the home for over eleven of those 30 years. Upon Steve’s retirement from the Air Force in 2000, Suzanne and Steve chose to settle in Arizona, splitting time between Tucson and Flagstaff.
Affable and people focused, Suzanne found and gave joy in all her relationships. In her last year of college, she was not only Steve’s sweetheart, she was crowned the Kappa Sigma Fraternity Sweetheart. She volunteered with numerous military service organizations, and was the president of the Officer Spouses’ Club at Royal Air Force Mildenhall. Her volunteer efforts expanded in Tucson where she served as an elder at Fountain of Life Lutheran Church, wedding coordinator, member of several congregational committees, crisis pregnancy counselor, and long-time volunteer to seniors in nursing homes with Senior Totes.
Suzanne loved to travel far and wide. She encouraged her family to take in the local culture everywhere they lived and visited. She filled school breaks and retirement with travel adventures across Western Europe and as far afield as the former Soviet Union, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Iceland, and Japan. Not surprisingly, an extended trip with Steve to Norway ranked as Suzanne’s favorite.
She delighted in the role of grandmother, providing the same love, affection, and support that she showered on her children, just without as many rules. Suzanne enjoyed everyday moments with her four grandchildren, including baking cookies, swimming, sharing her passion for University of Arizona Wildcat basketball and attending the grandkids’ music recitals, sporting events and dance performances.
We all will miss Suzanne’s giving nature; her life is a testament to how we should love and serve each other.
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Meeting ID: 889 5582 7460