In Memory

Wanita Zumbrunnen

Wanita Ann Zumbrunnen died from breast cancer on Monday, February 19, 2024 at the Delmar Gardens South Nursing Home in St. Louis, Missouri. She was 90 years old.

Wanita was born on November 18, 1933 to Frederick and Ella (Ehlts) Zumbrunnen. She grew up on a farm near Coggon, Iowa with her sisters Arlene and Gerri, and her brother, Glenn, and graduated from Coggon High School. At the age of 17, Wanita married Ronald Kehrli of Ryan, Iowa. Their thirteen year marriage, which ended in divorce, resulted in two children. Wanita then married Alfred F. Anderson of St. Louis, Missouri. They later divorced.

At the age of 30, Wanita began her many years of higher education at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965. In 1971, Wanita received a Master of Arts degree in American and Russian Literature from Mills College in Oakland, California. She was awarded her Ph.D. in American and Russian Literature from the University of Iowa, Iowa City in 1986.

Wanita was an accomplished poet who won awards at the St. Louis Poetry Center; appeared in "Inspirations," a publication of Quaid-EAzam Library in Pakistan; The Cloverdale Review; Slate; and The University of Iowa's "Daily Palette." She received International Publication Awards in 1996 and 2000 from the Atlantic Review. Wanita's published book of poems, "All Mortals Shall Dream Dreams," was a semi-finalist in the 2008 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition.

Wanita was an Associate Professor of English at Lindenwood University, a private university in St. Charles, Missouri. While teaching at Lindenwood, she was selected as a recipient of the prized Fulbright scholar award to lecture on American Literature in Pakistan during the 1988-89 academic year. She was selected as a Fulbright Scholar again in 1991 and returned to Pakistan in 1992-1993. 

Wanita also taught University of Maryland Global Campus on military bases in Japan, Germany, Kosovo and Turkey for 14 years, thus seeing her love of teaching, literature, poetry and traveling come together simultaneously.

Wanita was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Gerri Westlund, and her son-in-law, Keith Thorne. She is survived by her sister, Arlene Wilson of Des Moines, Iowa; brother, Glenn Zumbrunnen of Phoenix, Arizona; son, Randy Kehrli of Edmond, Oklahoma; daughter, Julie Kehrli of Alexandria, Virginia and many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Published by St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Mar. 10, 2024.

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04/03/24 10:56 AM #1    

Doug Lemmon

From Carol Dolan:

Wanita has been a friend since we met, in Germany, in the late 1990s. We taught on the same bases, and travelled to many locations in Europe, such as Brugges, Prague, Salzburg. One memorable caper involved a Road Trip from Heidelberg to Rota, via Paris, Avignon, Valencia, Grenada, with 2 other Marylanders in a 2nd car.

After returning to the US, Wanita visited us in Boston, while she was on a family ski trip. Never one to shy away from adventure, she tried snowboarding for the first time, at age 80! For many years, we looked forward to her calls on my birthday, and annual poem enclosed in her Christmas card. I have been in contact with her niece here in MA, and with her daughter.

04/03/24 05:20 PM #2    

Carol Dolan

Follow on to what Doug posted. (Sorry for the sideways, it was vertical when i upoaded!)
Waffles in Belgium with Wanita!  I will miss you! 



04/04/24 06:14 PM #3    

James A. "Jim" Moss

Sorry to learn about Wanita's death -- especially from that devastating disease of breast cancer.  But she did indeed have a full life, some of which I experienced in our time in Turkey.  My condolences to all her knew her and liked/loved her.  I know of no one who did not.

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