Joseph “Glen” Ponder passed away February 19, 2020, exactly one month shy of his 92nd birthday. He was the eldest son of Bernice (Meredith) and Joseph Ralph Ponder. Born March 19, 1928 in the RR4 Newton (now East 68th Street South) at the home that his father built. He graduated from Newton Senior High School in 1948, somewhat late due to childhood illnesses. Glen’s interest was to become a machinist and made a number of metal tools that his sons will keep in the family. He was working for the Jasper County Engineers when he was drafted by the Army and served in Korea. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and Korean Service Medal (with 3 campaign bronze stars) . Twice combat wounded he received the Purple Heart. He rose to the rank of Corporal in the Army as an ammo assistant for a .30 cal light machine gun (4th ) Squad, 1st Platoon, Company I, of the 3rd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, of the 8th Army. All this detail was related from memory after he was 90 years old.
After being honorably discharged from the US Army Glen went back to work for the Jasper County Engineering Department. Glen’s sister, Wanda, introduced her dormitory roommate at the Iowa Teachers College (U.N.I.), Marian Ruth Rigdon, to Glen. Marian wrote letters to Glen while he was still in the army. The two started dating after his return and were married on June 28, 1953. The couple moved to a rented home in Monroe while Marian was teaching at the high school. They had their first child, Dwight Lee, in 1954. Then in 1958 another son, David Glen, and a third son, Dean Joseph, in 1964. They built their first of three houses in 1956 on 15th Street South in Newton, the second larger house in 1968 on 17th Street North, and ultimately when they retired built their last home on an acreage northwest of Newton in 1989.
Glen & Marian were instrumental in founding the Community Heights Alliance Church. While Marian was Superintendent of Sunday School for many years and Glen was Treasurer and Financial Secretary. They both were very generous with their time and money. Glen was a member of the Jasper County Genealogical Society and a life member of the Jasper County Historical Society where he served as a volunteer at the museum. He was also a member of the American Legion Post 111, Society of Land Surveyors of Iowa, and American Congress on Surveying and Mapping.
Land surveying was both vocation and hobby. Doing plat work evenings and Saturday field work, many times assisted by his brother, sons, or a future licensed land surveyor. His office was decorated with maps, mostly of Jasper County, and many metal file cabinets of past surveying jobs. Glen was front page Newton Daily News when he retired in 1989 as the county Land Surveyor and Assistant Designer. Quoted in the article that he “didn’t know sick’em” about surveying when he started working for the county back in 1948.
Glen was an “organizer of stuff”. He used his carpentry skills to build a detached garage at their first house. He finished the basement and created a land surveyor office at the second house and was constantly making wooden boxes and bookcases to store the many little bits of stuff in an orderly fashion. When removing items from their last home built in the country after retirement, a note was found. “This box contains boxes.” That was Glen.
He traveled extensively in the lower 48 states, Hawaii and Canada, but mentioned that he wished to have traveled to Alaska. He did visit Japan on leave during his service in Korea. In 1990 Glen and Marian visited and made a photo album of every county courthouse in Iowa. Glen also combined his passion for fishing with travel. He took immediate family, relatives and friends on many fishing excursions to Minnesota and Canada over the years.
Glen kept his wits and humor, never bitter or full of self-pity over his medical condition that reduced the proper use of his right leg beginning in the late ‘70s. He kept working around his ailment, first with one cane then two. He kept his mobility by walking figure eights in his basement shop. Then he modified his world with ramps, handrails, riding lawn mower, motorized scooter, but made no excuses.
Glen is survived by his wife of 66 years, Marian (Rigdon) Ponder originally from Dunkerton, Iowa. Sons Dwight (LeAnn) Ponder, David Ponder, and Dean (Myla) Ponder, four grandchildren, Sara, Jason, Stacia and Caitlan, sisters Ruth Schuck, Bonnie Ellis, brothers Bill Ponder, Leo Ponder, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Joe and Bernice Ponder, sisters Lois Lisk and Wanda Wehner.
Glen’s modest and humble personality requested no service, memorials, flowers or donations. His ashes will be interred at Glen and Marian’s plot at the Slagel Cemetery, Jasper County, Iowa. A celebration of his life will be held in conjunction with the passing of his wife in the future.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joseph Glen Ponder, please visit our floral store.