Mary Ellen Sandersfeld

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Mary Ellen Sandersfeld, age 88, of Amana, died peacefully on Saturday, January 8, 2022 at The Bird House Hospice Home of Johnson County in Iowa City. She was in the loving company of family. Visitation will be at Kloster Funeral Home, Marengo, from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. on January 12. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., January 13, at First Lutheran Church in Conroy. Burial will be at First Lutheran Church cemetery.

Mary Ellen Martinson was born on September 23, 1933 to Frank Wilmer Martinson and Irene Katherine Alvina Martinson (Schwarting). She grew up—along with her brothers Harold and Edwin and her sister Gloria—on the family’s farm near Conroy, Iowa. She graduated from high school in Conroy.

On May 20, 1953 she married the love of her life, Russell (Russ) Sandersfeld, in St. John's Lutheran Church. The couple settled in Amana, Iowa and raised five children: Randy, Vickie, Dan, Michael, and Jason.

Mary Ellen was a devout Christian and attended First Lutheran Church, Conroy. She was active in many church programs, serving as the Sunday school superintendent for 13 years. She led a junior choir for seven years, arranged and taught a weeklong vacation bible school for 12 summers, and directed Christmas programs for 12 years. She also sang in the choir at First Lutheran Church for over 40 years.

In 1967 Russ and Mary Ellen established The Colony Village Restaurant. Along with their family, the couple built the Colony Village into one of the most well-known and successful independent restaurants in Iowa. Over the years, Russ and Mary Ellen owned and operated—at times simultaneously—several other restaurants, including Old Ironsides and The Kozy Inn in Cedar Rapids and The Colony Village in Homestead. At the restaurant, no job was too big and no detail too small for Mary Ellen. She single-handedly managed the business’s payroll and employee scheduling and pitched in when the kitchen needed help. Mary Ellen was quick to personally and professionally assist those with whom she worked. She was genuinely interested in others’ lives, and made lifelong friends with many coworkers.

Outside of the restaurant business Mary Ellen had many interests and hobbies, including music, writing, cooking, and bridge club. She played the accordion, piano, and organ and taught piano lessons. Mary Ellen was a prolific poet; her favorite subjects were the church choir, friends, and family members. She enjoyed hosting picnics at the family farm. Frequently she was the primary voice of reason at Hawkeye tailgaters, where she played the accordion to accompany Russ’s stumpf fiddle-infused Schnitzelbank song. Her driving purpose, however, was her family. She sought always to create a loving, warm, and welcoming home for her husband and children.

Mary Ellen is dearly missed by her brother Edwin; her children: Randy, of Amana; Vickie (Chris) of Iowa City and her children Joshua (Claire), Jessica, and Kaitlyn (Kevin); Dan (Wendy) of Tiffin and their children Adrian and Graham; Michael (Heidi) of Amana and their children Gunther and Ellery; Jason (Sarah) of Shueyville and their children Garrett and Wyatt. Also loved by Mary Ellen are five great grandchildren: Martin, Evelyn, Hayden, Isabelle, and Jayce.

Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Russ; a brother, Harold; and her sister, Gloria.

A memorial fund has been established in Mary Ellen’s name. Contributions to the fund will go to support Essence of Life Hospice and The Bird House Hospice Home of Johnson County.


Funeral Service

10:30 A.M. Thursday, January 13, 2022

First Lutheran Church, Conroy, Iowa


3 to 7 P.M. Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Kloster Funeral Home, Marengo, Iowa


First Lutheran Cemetery, Conroy, Iowa

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