Darla Baumgarten, 59, passed unexpectedly at her home in Eldridge, IA. Per her wishes cremation rights have been accorded. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Memorials may be left to any charity of choice
. Online condolences may be expressed at www.weertsfuneralhome.com
Darla was a loving wife, mother, sister, mentor, and friend. She had a lifelong love of the outdoors and spent her time hiking, backpacking, skiing, and camping. Darla grew up in a family that encouraged service to others, embraced the outdoors and she passed those values onto many others throughout her life. Darla loved teaching, learning, adventuring, and sharing her experiences with her many friends and family.
Darla was born in Hot Springs, SD to Don and Kathy Fritch. She joined her sisters and lifelong best friends Mary and Robin and was followed by her brother Ken in a life of adventure and exploration. She grew up in Durango, Colorado before finishing high school in Jackson, Wyoming. She ran track, Alpine Skiing, and competed on the national level on the Cross-Country Ski team throughout high school. She skied at the University of New Mexico before transferring to Northern Michigan University to study and compete there. While at NMU, she met her future husband, Ray. They moved back west to Jackson, WY and were married in August of 1983. Ray and Darla returned to Marquette, MI to continue their studies and compete on the ski team. Darla earned her Bachelors of Science in 1987. She continued her education as a graduate assistant while earning her Masters in Exercise Physiology and serving as the assistant coach of the NMU cross-country ski team. She completed her masters in 1989 and began work as an Exercise Physiologist at Marquette General Hospital. Darla and Ray welcomed their sons Jurgen (1990) and Steffen (1991) into their family. Darla passed along her love of the outdoors, sports, and learning to her sons during their numerous adventures. The family moved to Eldridge, Iowa in 2004. Darla began teaching at St. Ambrose University in 2005 in Physical Education and Sports Science Department and aided in the transition to a full-fledged Kinesiology Department. During Darla's time at St. Ambrose she held the positions of Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. Darla also served as a Student Advisor and on numerous faculty committees. During her time at St. Ambrose, Darla also completed her Doctorate of Education from Northcentral University. Beloved by her students and peers, Darla was selected as Faculty of the Month and Faculty of the Year. Darla was passionate about teaching and nothing pleased her more professionally than watching her students succeed in classes and life.
Darla held volunteer positions with the Superiorland Ski Club and the Superiorland Soccer Club in Marquette Michigan. Darla also donated her time to the North Scott Food Pantry in Eldridge Iowa. Darla was a Certified Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine. In the spirit of giving, Darla chose to be an organ donor through the Iowa Donor Network.
Darla is survived by her husband Ray of Eldridge, IA; sons Jurgen (Michelle) Baumgarten of Sanford, NC; Steffen (Kaila) Baumgarten of Waukee, IA; siblings Mary (Joe) Berning of Arvada, CO; Robin Fritch and Stephen Saltsman of Durango, CO; Ken Fritch of Castle Rock, CO.
"The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go" Darla Baumgarten