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Jean Soper Cater 1929-2014

May 8, 2014
Emmetsburg News

Funeral service for Jean Soper Cater of Emmetsburg will be held Saturday, May 10, at 2 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Emmetsburg. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Emmetsburg.

Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 9, at the Martin-Mattice Funeral Home in Emmetsburg.

Jean Soper Cater, an artist, teacher, business owner and community organizer, passed away on Saturday, May 3, 2014 in Houston, TX. Jean was a 1947 graduate of Emmetsburg High School and had returned to live in Emmetsburg in retirement.

Jean Soper was born on March 11, 1929 in Casper, WY to Harland Robins Soper and Billie King Soper. She grew up in Tulsa, OK until her family returned to her father's hometown of Emmetsburg in 1942. She studied at Iowa State University, received a bachelor's degree from Butler University, a master's degree from Bemidji State University and completed doctoral coursework in counseling and psychology at the University of Iowa. Jean taught elementary school in Indiana, taught on the college level at Coe College and worked as a counselor at Augustana College.

Jean was an accomplished artist and designer. She owned a needlework shop in downtown Iowa City called The Orange Door, where she designed handpainted needlepoint canvases and taught classes in needlepoint, knitting and crochet. After retirement, she pursued her interests in oil, pastel and watercolor painting and won awards at several juried exhibitions in Minnesota. Jean and her husband David enjoyed spending summers at Lake Ada near Pine River, MN, where her family had owned a cabin since 1959. She also enjoyed researching family genealogy, gardening, cooking and refinishing furniture.

Jean was always active in the community and in politics. While living in Iowa City, she served on the Johnson County Democratic Central Committee and the state Democratic Central Committee, served as treasurer for a state legislator, and ran many local campaigns and did local fundraising and coordination for national presidential candidates. In Emmetsburg, she raised funds to install a new playground and permanent sign for Soper Park, which was donated to the city by her grandmother, Clarissa Robins Soper, and contributed towards the renovation of Trinity Episcopal Church. Jean was active in managing environmental efforts on her family's farmland, including removal of waste and old buildings and windbreak planting.

Jean is survived by her husband of 42 years, David Cater, who retired from the University of Iowa as a professor of chemistry in 1996. She is also survived by her children Steven Anderson (Julie Myers) of Iowa City and Sarah VanBeck (Scott) of Houston, TX, and four grandchildren: Wesley, Helen, Sam and Neil VanBeck.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Harland Robins (Bobby) Soper II, and her son, Kurt Anderson.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jean's name may be made to National Relief Charities ( or any organization of your choice benefiting Native Americans, the environment or animal rescue.

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