Arletta Marie Refshauge Kober

Jan 24, 2018
Kober Arletta SF back


Family Appreciation Service 10 a.m. on Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church


5:00 PM to 6:00 PM on Friday, February 2, 2018 at Locke Funeral Home


West View Cemetery, La Porte City Iowa


May be directed to Westminster Presbyterian Church


Arletta Marie Refshauge Kober, 98, Waterloo educator and civic leader, passed away on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 in Waterloo. She was born on October 31, 1919 in Cedar Falls and grew up with her family (father, Edward, mother, Mary, sisters Marcella and Elva) on the family farm, Grandview.  Her father, Edward Refshauge, was a Black Hawk County Supervisor for over 40 years.  She was very proud of her 100% Danish heritage. 

 She met her future husband, Kay Kober, her freshman year on the dance floor at college (then called Iowa State Teachers College).  They dated for about 6 years and were married on February 14, 1944.  They enjoyed life together as a couple for 80 years.

Arletta attended schools on the current University of Northern Iowa campus from kindergarten through her master’s degree. She graduated from the campus high school and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree and Master of Arts Degree from the University. Arletta was an educator in the Waterloo Public Schools for over thirty years, primarily as the Office Education Coordinator for the Waterloo Public Schools at East and West High Schools. She also taught school in Soldier and Montezuma, Iowa. She was the first teacher at East High School to continue teaching after marriage, for which she had to obtain special approval from the school administration.

It was her philosophy that one must give back to the community, and Arletta was very active in civic organizations in Waterloo including the YWCA, Christmas Seals Society, Waterloo Visiting Nurse Association, Waterloo Women’s Club, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, Broadway Theatre League, American Red Cross, and Black Hawk County Historical Society. She was a member of PEO, Delta Kappa Gamma and Delta Pi Epsilon.  She was co-chairman of the Citizen’s Committee for the School Bond Issue. She served in several capacities at Westminster Presbyterian Church. She was also very proud of being included in Who’s Who of American Women based on her career and community activities.

Arletta was a very devoted teacher who felt that she should be a mentor as well as teacher for her students. She worked hard to provide them with the business and social skills to make them successful.  Arletta was very goal oriented for herself, her students, and her children and both encouraged and expected the highest level of achievement. Both she and Kay wanted their children and grandchildren to achieve their highest goals in life.

Arletta was very well known for driving around Waterloo in a pink ’67 Mustang.  It was the colors of West High at the time (old rose and black) and is still in the family.  

Arletta’s themes in life were family, education, and community involvement. The family is very grateful to have her legacy as a wonderful, loving mother and grandmother.

Survived by: two daughters, Kay Mary (David) Harrell and Karilyn Kober; three granddaughters, Lindsay Kay Harrell, Meredith Marie Harrell, and Jensen Kober Henry; and nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Preceded in death by: her husband, Kay L. Kober; her parents; two sisters, Marcella Elizabeth (Leo) Olsen and Elva Lillian (Robert) Wightman; two brothers, Ansgar and Hubert Refshauge; and son-in-law, J. William Henry.


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  1. Joan Meany | Feb 09, 2018

    One more tidbit I forgot to mention, my mom was working in the law office the day your Dad brought in that beautiful gown he'd selected for your Mother to wear to that season's Junior League Charity Ball. I heard it described before it came out in the Waterloo Courier. Little did I know that 5 years later I would be a member of JL, attending the same glamorous events.

  2. Joan Meany | Feb 09, 2018

    To the family of Arletta Kober,

    Joe and Joan Meany are remembering your family at the loss of your beloved Mother, Arletta Kober. My mother. Arlene Krafka was a legal secretary for a time to your Dad in his law office (1970s - 80s.)

    She tells of Arletta coming in after work day one time, exhausted, so she sat in the desk chair of Charlie Pickett's secretary Zelda Strever, who was a hoot in her own right.

    Arletta must have been wearing what I imagine a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap front dress with a waist belt that unhooked in the front; these were popular in that era. When she plopped down in the chair, of course the belt was uncomfortably tight so she unhooked it and the entire dress front fell open like an untied bathrobe. My mom was amused at her casualness as she proceeded to do some typing at the desk with her undergarments (a slip, I'm recalling) exposed to any clients who might walk into the lobby.

    This autumn, Arletta Refshauge Kober will be memorialized in a service at the Woman's Club. We are proud that she had been a long time member and distinguished past president from 1963 - 1964, among other offices she held. I am also a current member of the Waterloo Woman's Club and enjoyed sharing lunch, such as it was for your Mom's diet, with her many times in our lovely clubhouse. She was always so interested in how my family was doing, especially Mom. There were the years she could no longer attend meetings, but when I dropped the club yearbook off at their home I enjoyed exchanging a few pleasantries at the door with her.

    My husband was also a student of your Mom's at East High School. Kay was our attorney for a few visits over the years to handle the usual wills and such. When my brother was married, your folks came to his reception, in tow with one of your single cousins to introduce to me. I think this had been concocted at the office between Kay & my mom. Unbeknownst to them, I had a new boyfriend, Joe Meany with me that night, too. I hadn't him known long enough to introduce to my family. I was so embarrassed for your cousin. We danced anyway, but I do hope he went on to meet and marry eventually, as well.

    The obituary is such a lovely tribute to Arletta, I loved reading about her life and devotion to all aspects she touched. The beautiful painted portrait from her youth speaks volumes as to the lovely woman she always was throughout her long life.

    Our ties with Kay & Arletta Kober have been very special, but I know many other good folks in the area can claim the same fondness. They were the epitome of the community. But never forget the tongue-in-cheek moniker that Zelda described them as "a red rug with a white mop" (for their notorious hair.)

    Sincere sympathy and our prayers to each of you.

    Joseph & Joan Krafka Meany

    1500 Maynard Avenue, Waterloo 50701

  3. Tom Arthur | Feb 04, 2018

    Karilyn, Kay Mary & David.  Your hearts must be filled with sorrow and rejoicing at the same time.  Your mom loved life, and the love for you, Kay Mary and Karilyn, her daughters, she loved and admired you, and you both made her so proud.  You continued to visit the home and attend Westminster when in town. I can still feel your mom's pride as she would tell of your professional accomplishments, which are many.  Your dad was the same, and the cattle grazing on the grass at the entrance to the Country Club as the dowery still stands out in my mind.  There was joy in your household, you were raised that way, success was expected, goals set high, and both your journey's though life is/was such an unbelievable pleasure to your mom.  She was always very nice talking about both of you, but her eyes would shine telling of your accomplishments.

      Your mom and dad had a love affair that books should be written about.  Both of them were interesting, and interested in others.  They played off of each other in the most fun and respectful ways.  Your dad worshiped your mom, and she held him in such high esteem.  Other writers here have mentioned the feather dress and your dad purchased it for her and gave it to her the day of the Junior League Ball.  I not sure she was pleased when she and it were the featured picture in the Couriers write up. 

      Your mom was held in the highest esteem by the administration, faculty, and students of the Waterloo Schools.  She understood refinement, and would send her students out to interviews in white gloves.  When the Central High School bond issue needed to be passed, Mr. Distelmeyer knew who to put in charge of the bond issue.  It passed first vote.  Your mom taught wonderful life long skills, while having great fun in that pink Mustang.  Many, many students owe their success to her guidance and teaching.  I still encounter them today in Waterloo, and they will tell story after story with the greatest affection.  

      As you look back over your lives, and the lives of your mom and dad, to all four of you, the community would say, great job, you did it right, you gave back, and Waterloo was a far better place for the Kobers being part of it.  It was a privilege to know and work with your mom, know your dad, and to see both of your wonderful success.  Tom Arthur

  4. Jim Higgins | Feb 02, 2018
    Having lived across the street for many years was more than a treat!!! I don't think that I ever met two people so in love with each other as Arletta and Kay. They were treasures to the Waterloo community. When we moved across the street we were there just about 2 hours and over came Kay with our brand of booze and Arletta's home made cookies for Nancy and I. He had called my office to see what brand we drank. That was just Arletta and Kay. God bless you both knowing them made Nancy and my life better.
  5. Lu Ann White | Feb 02, 2018

    I am very sorry to learn of your loss.  Arletta was a class act with great daughters!  She always was charming and kind and encouraging and positive and classy!  My sympathy to your family.  I love this photo of Arletta. How beautiful! My thoughts and sympathies are with you as you honor her. 

    Lu Ann White, West High Class of 1974

  6. Kevan Cortright | Feb 02, 2018

    To Aletta’s girls snd family,

    I dont think I have ever met a more comitted couple than Arletta and Kay and I enjoyed their friendship over many years. They were unique in so many ways and made lives better by their example of true love. I’m sorry you must endure this loss but take joy in wondering what it must be like for Arletta to rejoin Kay in God’s presence. Arletta was a wonderful  lady. I will never forget them and the impact on me from early childhood and especially their love for Cadillacs! God bless you all and give you strength.

    Sincerely, Kevan Cortright

  7. Diane Kimball | Feb 02, 2018

    I cry tears of joy in having known the fabulous Arletta Kober.

    I was in her co-op program at West High in 1981. Arletta set the example and instilled in me to live life with integrity and do it glamorously. 

    As her student and a impressionable young lady; if there was anyone I wanted to be like it was Arletta......i will have a pink mustang yet !

    I remember her picture being in the newspaper that she would be attending a social event in her enchanting feather skirt. She was a classy lady.

    Remember this was 1981; one day as she stood in front of her classroom she told us girls that we always look good in the candle light and one of the benefits of being in the work force was to meet a potential husband.  From her experience she advised us to marry a attorney and not a doctor for they have better hours. (Her husband Kay was a well respected attorney in our community) 

    Arletta would be proud that she has left a stamp on my heart forever.



  8. Mark Grittmann | Feb 01, 2018

    I think she'd like that picture.   Though she was over 60 when I knew her, she seemed younger at heart, was an elegant lady, and that picture is how she seemed to be inside.  Great teacher, and took a personal interset in her students.   A class act.   And who can forget that Mustang?

  9. Susan DeBord (Snodgrass) | Feb 01, 2018
    Mrs Kober was the epitome of classic elegance, always. She took a vested interest in the success of all of her students and was a kind mentor to all who knew her. My thoughts and prayers are with her family...I’m so very sorry for your loss.
  10. Lori Lane | Feb 01, 2018
    Arletta (Mrs. Kober to me as a WHS student) was extraordinary. She knew us all, whether we were her student or not. She also set the bar for considering school a place for which you skimped not at all on personal grooming. This was particularly challenging during the late 70’s/early 80’s. Always kind, always welcoming, always positive are the qualities I recall in her and which I will always remember. Your family is in my heart right now.

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