Myrtle Felkner—an extraordinary Christian educator

Myrtle Felkner—an extraordinary Christian educator

October 01, 2019

Myrtle Felkner, an extraordinary Iowa Christian educator who had worked with many Iowa churches, passed away on September 25, 2019 at the age of 94. 

Myrtle was the creator and author of the One Room Sunday School model, along with hundreds of articles and stories for children's curricula. She was very well known by members of CEF (Christian Educators Fellowship - now Christians Engaged in Faith Formation). Her last Christian education book came out when she was 84. She was also very active in conference committees.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at Faith United Methodist Church in Centerville. Interment will immediately follow at Felkner Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 1-7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 4, 2019 with the family present from 4-7:00 p.m. at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Faith United Methodist Church or the Drake Avenue Public Library in Centerville, Iowa and online condolences may be shared at or

Stories and memories can be sent to The Felkner Family, 14578 Hwy. 2, Centerville, IA  52544. 

Obituary for Myrtle Felkner

Myrtle Emilene Felkner, age 94 of Centerville died Wednesday, Sept 25 at her home west of Centerville. She was born the daughter of Hans Edward Koefoed, a Danish immigrant, and Florence Christine Frederiksen, a second-generation Danish immigrant on April 14, 1925 near Janesville, IA. She graduated from Janesville High School in 1942 and later the American Institute of Business in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduation she worked in Des Moines auditing the Iowa beer taxes and as a legal secretary. During World War II she volunteered as a pen pal to many soldiers, rolled bandages, and danced with soldiers who were training at Camp Dodge. She was united in marriage to Paul Eugene Felkner of Centerville on Aug 19, 1945 in Janesville, IA.

Myrtle had careers as an author, farmer, public speaker, and Christian Educator. Myrtle sold her first article to the Associated Press at the age of 12. Throughout her life she wrote hundreds of articles, stories, plays and poems which were published in Kitchen Klatter, Farm Journal, The Des Moines Register, and religious publications. Her passion was writing Christian Education materials. She wrote and sold nine books, as well as creating and writing One Room Sunday School curriculum (including teachers guide, student and parent papers) for the United Methodist Church. It is estimated her curriculum reached over one million children in the United States. 

Myrtle was integral to the family farm operation while growing up and since 1946 co-managed the family farm west of Centerville with her husband Paul. Myrtle baled hay, raised chickens, helped with livestock production and checked creek gaps. She loved walking and exploring the farm. She was named a Master Farm Homemaker by Wallace’s Farmer in 1967.

Myrtle became a certified Laboratory teacher in the United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School teachers from all over the U.S. how to teach. She herself was a Sunday School teacher for 65 years. From 1982-1990 she taught Christian Education for a Course of Study School for Local Pastors at Garret-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Later she became chair of the Course of Study School for the United Methodist Church in Iowa, the program that certifies lay pastors in Iowa.

From 1972 to 1985 Myrtle was director of Christian Education for the Faith United Methodist Parish in Appanoose County, Iowa. As educator she designed after-school programs, annual Bible Schools and a Day Camp for six small Methodist churches in Appanoose County, as well as FUMC in Centerville. At least a hundred volunteers helped carry out these programs, benefitting 200-300 children weekly.

From 1985 to 1995 Myrtle worked as the director of education in small membership churches for the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN. She traveled from the family farm near Centerville to every state but Maine in educating pastors and Sunday School teachers about Christian education in churches with membership of less than 200. 

For her years of creative ministry in Christian Education, Myrtle was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, IA in 1995. 

Myrtle loved life and lived it to the fullest. She learned to water ski at age 40, snow ski at age 50 and was an avid bird watcher and loved reading history and biography. She often flew with Paul in the open cockpit biplane that he built from scratch.

Myrtle was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Paul; her parents; four siblings, Paul Koefoed of Cedar Falls, IA; Winona Koefoed of Calexico, California; Virginia Lageschulte of Waverly, IA; and Ercil McWilliams of Dumont, IA; one great-grandchild, Dominque Ennis of Ames, IA; and 2 nephews. She is survived by three children, Barbara Gardner (Steve), Joan Felkner, and William (Bill) Felkner (Natalie) all of Centerville, IA; four grandchildren, Dianne Ennis (Rick) of Ames, IA; Emily Felkner and Kyle Felkner (Morgan) of Centerville, IA; and Stephanie (Don) Edwards of Kansas City, Kansas. She is survived by 9 great-grandchildren, including Dakota Ennis (Kasie) of Washington state; Chance Ennis of Chicago, Ill; Destany, Zachary and Miles Ennis, of Ames, IA; Leland Felkner of Centerville, IA; Cassady Dean (Bobby) of Ames, IA, Chelsea Martinez (Lupe) of Greenville, TX, Andrew Edwards of Kansas City, KS; and one great-great grandchild, Archer Dean of Ames, IA. Other survivors include nieces and nephews in the United States, and cousins in Copenhagen, on the island of Bornholm, Denmark, and in Norway.

The family of Myrtle E. Felkner wants to express special thanks for extraordinary compassionate care to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital Specialty Care Clinic staff and Infusion Nurses, Community Home Care Services (Kamron, Steve, Melissa), EveryStep Hospice (Anna, Linda, Heather Tiffany), and especially, Dr. David and Vanessa Fraser.