A Memorial Mass and Celebration of Debra’s life is planned for Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Whittemore, Iowa. Further information will be posted when more information is confirmed.
Debra Ann Kollasch was born on Oct. 8, 1952, in Union Grove, to Evelyn Kuhn Squires and Daniel Squires. She was the fifth of seven kids. Debra died peacefully and surrounded by her family on Nov. 3, 2023. Her struggle with acute lung cancer was a mere 45 days.
She is survived by her siblings, Dawn Stensrud of La Crosse, Theresa Rode of Union Grove, and Charles Squires of Racine.
Debra was a very proud mom and grandmother to five kids and 16 grandkids who live in Texas, California, Iowa, and Kansas, Tricia and Jay Sherman and their children Grant and Maddie; Derek and Rachel Roth and their children Chloe, Landon and Grayson; Chris and Stacy Cahalan and their children Charles, Stella and Cooper; Kara and Dustin Banhsen and their children Anna, Allie, Andrew and Alivia; and Christina and Pat Strand and their children Porter, Gunnar, Crew and Opal.
Debra’s grandkids have incredible memories of visits, phone calls, Facetime dates, epic Christmas presents and even more epic trips to TJ Max. She connected with these 16 grandkids as if they were all her favorites.
By mere chance, Debra met Luke in Dallas in 2000 and they couldn’t stay away from one another. During this time, they traveled extensively within the United States and Europe. Debra loved the beach and she loved traveling to see grandkids. She was looking forward to planning a daughter’s trip to London that Derek would have helped to chaperone. Luke and Debra had a cosmic connection. They were just enough alike as they were different. We found a large chest of love letters written over the last two decades that were a great testament to their love and connection.
Debra was actively involved in the Catholic Church. She taught religious education, she was a mentor to many and she was looking forward to decorating the church for the holidays. Her dear friend, Father Matthew, said that she had “big plans” this year for the altar. Debra spared nothing when it came to style and design.
Over the last 23 years, Debra and Luke lived in Algona, Iowa, Salt Lake City, Utah, Mason City, Iowa and Morristown, New Jersey. She loved the challenge of making any house a home that everyone loved to visit. Her design sense was unmatched. Every home Debra lived in was full of color, texture, a hall tree full of hats and always an entrance with a large angel or two. According to Luke, she didn’t do anything normal. He loved that about her.
In the hospital, Luke commented that he not only lost his soul mate, but he lost his managing partner. Debra knew the sacrifices it took to build businesses and take care of employees. She also knew her husband loved glamor shots on heavy equipment and agreed to taking hundreds of these pictures over the last two decades. She was proud to be a part of the construction of the Galbraith Grain Terminal and the Amazon Distribution Center on Staten Island. During these construction projects, she regularly visited employees. Debra and Luke were recognized by the NYC General Contractors Association of America. This was an honor for Debra as there were very few women present and acknowledged. Loving people and keeping them motivated and smiling was a vocation. Prior to marrying Luke, Debra was a flight attendant and managed a design showroom at the world trade center in Dallas, Texas.
Debra’s lasting legacy was her commitment to faith and prayer. In her last weeks on earth, Derek said “She is going to be the happiest woman in heaven”. She spent a lot of time praying for all of us. In 2012, Debra’s mom Evelyn died. Luke and Debra went to Paris after Evelyn’s death. We found a journal she kept during this trip where she used countless pages perfecting this poem that we think embodies how she is doing in heaven.
“The Eternal Dance
Comfort of time eludes me contented
Gracefully I dance through the veil of life
I don’t touch the ground
Kindred souls all around
You feel the love surround the living soul
Thoughts are swirling
You are awakened silently by the majesty of it all
At peace, gracefully you dance
Dancing towards a glorious light
Heaven, stars, eternity
His presence pulls you near
There is no pain, no fear
I dance closer as he calls my name
Nothing will ever be the same
The angels sing in perfect harmony
He’s there to set me free, angels rejoicing
We are on bended knees
I know you miss me by your side
All of you gave me great joy and pride