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Johnnie Zabel Lenox

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 9:13 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 1:31 p.m. CDT

Johnnie Zabel, 89, of Lenox died Nov. 24, 2013, at Alegent Health Mercy Hospital in Corning, after a short bout with pneumonia.

Celebration of Life services will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, at Lenox United Methodist Church. Interment will be in North Fairview Cemetery in Lenox. Visitation with family present will be one hour prior to services. Ritchie Funeral Home, 124 S. Main St., Lenox, is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be given to Lenox United Methodist Church or Hospice of Southwest Iowa. Online condolences may be left at

Frances “Johnnie” Marie (Johnson) Zabel, daughter of Nels and Agnes Johnson, was born in 1924 in Salina, Kan.

She grew up on the family farm in a Swedish community surrounding the Salemsborg Lutheran Church.

After graduating from Smolan High School in 1941, Johnnie attended business school in Salina.

Johnnie worked as a secretary in Salina during World War II.

In July 1945, Johnnie married Sgt. Ralph Zabel, during his furlough from the Army.

After Ralph’s discharge from the Army in early 1946, he and Johnnie settled in Lincoln, Neb.

The family relocated to Lenox.

In 1954, Johnnie and Ralph teamed up with Ralph’s sister Esther and her husband Elmer Bose to buy First National Bank.

Johnnie and Ralph were involved in the civic, school and church life of the Lenox community.

In late 2004, Ralph died, and a few months later, Johnnie moved into Vintage Park Apartments (assisted living) in Lenox.

Johnnie is survived by her children, Doug Zabel of Austin, Texas, JoAnn Tieszen (Dennis) of Waterloo and Gary Zabel (Karen) of Lenox; grandchildren, Ben Newport (Corinne) of Cedar Rapids, Chelsea Markle (Brett) of Seattle, Wash., Rob Brammer (Nicky) of Essex and Andy Brammer (Julie) of Lenox; eight great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to her husband, Johnnie was preceded in death by her parents and sister Dorothy Sandberg.

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