Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Rebecca Sue Reiter, 84, died May 9, 2023, in Iowa City, of natural causes. The daughter of Mildred (Smiley) and Winfred Reiter, Rebecca was born on Dec. 9, 1938, in Chariton, Iowa. Her childhood was spent in Melcher, Iowa, where her father and grandfather practiced dentistry and medicine respectively. She graduated from Melcher High School in 1956, received her bachelor's degree from Grinnell College, was inducted into Mortar Board, Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, spent a year abroad in Sri Lanka and earned a master of science degree in zoology from the University of Iowa in 1964. Rebecca spent her entire working career in the field of biological research, first at the Oak Ridge Laboratories in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and for 38 years at the University of Iowa in the Department of Biological Sciences. She was a skilled and valued member of several research laboratories, having coauthored 46 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Her contributions include training and mentoring dozens of graduate students and post-doctoral scientists throughout her career. Rebecca had many outside interests. She was active with the Johnson County Democrats for many years and served on the boards of the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Hawkeye Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, and the Foundation Board of the Iowa City Public Library. She also had an interest in archaeology and participated in several digs in Iowa. After a trip to Greece, she developed a passion for ancient Greek civilizations and read extensively about their culture. In addition to trips to Greece, she was privileged to travel with friends to eastern Europe, Mexico, Turkey, Japan, Taiwan, Croatia and the Galapagos Islands. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Jeanne Reiter and niece, Catherine Awtry (Bill), all of Coralville; their children, Hannah Hirota (Nick) and Joey Awtry (Brooke) and their daughter, Lula Mae Awtry; also by nephew, Alex Reiter (Ramona) and his children, Casey and Caedyn. She is remembered by many friends and professional colleagues who admire her humor, skills, compassion, patience and generosity. Rebecca was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved brother, Warren Reiter; and her cousin, Ray Methlie; and the many dogs she loved and cared for throughout her life. Rebecca chose to be cremated. A Celebration of Life will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 10, in The Heiden Room in the Spring Street building, at Oaknoll Retirement Residence, 1 Oaknoll Court, in Iowa City. Private burial will be in the Dallas Township Cemetery in Marion County, Iowa. In lieu of flowers, Rebecca requested that donations be made to the CommUnity Crisis Services of Iowa City. Lensing Funeral & Cremation Service in Iowa City is handling arrangements.