Wanda Juanita Swayne died on October 18, 2022, at the age of 93. Wanda was born on the family farm east of Swan, Iowa on October 6, 1929, to Nettie Elizabeth (Sanders) Cowman and Wilby Cowman. Wanda was number 12 of 14 children. She attended the Okay School, about 1 1/2 miles from her home until the family moved to Knoxville in the fall of 1944.
In 1946 Wanda met and married William Eugene Bacus. To this union two children were born, Juanita and Billy Dean. After she and Bill divorced, she married Frank Swayne in 1968. Frank passed away in 1996 and in 2002 Wanda married Joseph Balducki.
On March 1, 1975, Wanda lost her son Billy in a one-car accident. In her grieving process, Wanda found God and was baptized at the Free Methodist Church in Knoxville. Along with her husband, Joe, she devoted much of her time, energy, and resources to the church. One of the most gratifying tasks she took on was that of teaching Sunday school. That gave her such pride. After the church closed, Wanda and Joe, on February 21, 2016, joined the First Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. The church was an important source of comfort for Wanda and her family during her illness.
Wanda worked for the VA Canteen Service in Knoxville for over 30 years. Although it can’t be confirmed, it is believed she was the first female to assume the position of Chief Canteen Officer. What can be confirmed is that Wanda and Joe on every Monday morning for years got up at 4:00 a.m. to bake 9 loaves of sourdough bread. Later in the day, they delivered all nine loaves to friends and family throughout Knoxville.
In addition to Wanda’s Free Methodist Church activities, she worked as a volunteer at the Knoxville Hospital gift shop for many years. She loved to quilt and sewed and/or cross stitched well over 100 quilt tops. If you wanted a quilt, you only needed to ask. Wanda was unapologetic about playing bingo, watching her soap operas, having coffee with her friends. She was a beautifully natural, independent, strong-willed woman who put the needs of others before her own. She loved her family and friends above all else, except maybe when she was watching her soaps.
Wanda was preceded in death by her son, William Dean Bacus, by her husbands, Frank Swayne and Joe Balducki, her parents, six brothers and five sisters. Left to cherish her memory are her daughter, Juanita (Larry) Willis, two sisters, Donna Visser of Pella, Iowa, and Shirley (Brenton) Trabert and sister-in-law Donna Cowman, many nieces and nephews whom she dearly loved, and several step-children and step-grandchildren.
Visitation for Wanda will be held on Sunday, October 23, 2022, at the Winfield Funeral Home in Knoxville from 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. A funeral service will take place on Monday, October 24, 2022, at the First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville at 11:00 A.M. Burial will follow at Graceland Cemetery. Following services, a luncheon will be held at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Wanda’s memory to the First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville, 409 S. Park Lane 50138; or to the New Hope Free Methodist Church, 821 8th Ave. East, Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577.