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Iona Kargel was born to Irene and Charles Brunes at home and raised in Pequot (now Pequot Lakes), Minnesota as the middle of three children (eldest - Charlotte deceased; youngest John - surviving).

She grew up in a farming family. They sold corn, strawberries, and fishing bait and tackle to local people and tourists.

At age 21, Iona underwent experimental heart surgery, correcting a terminal heart problem, allowing her to live a long life. With Robert James Kargel, she had six children Steven, Gregory, Jeffrey, Laurel, Susan, and Nancy; among the children they have four spouses, Shirley, Huong ('Bay'), Mike, and Joel. Iona had 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

As a child, her mother's at-home instruction in geography spurred world interests. In High School Iona was voted 'most likely to travel'. Iona traveled widely, around the world.

Late in life, Iona developed academic and personal interests in cultural anthropology, human migrations, microbiology, and human and microbial genetics. She wrote Traveling the South Pacific Without Reservations (Evangeline Brunes) and scientific, historical, and personal manuscripts on human migrations and the medical industry.

Iona's difficulties with sun exposure and interest in the Pacific and Polynesia drew her from Tucson to Anacortes, where she lived since 2008.

Iona embraced people of all nationalities and walks of life and of diverse beliefs and cultures the world over. Iona had a commitment to family, research, and independent thinking and was a quiet, spiritual Christian.

As Mom, she guided her family spiritually, morally, and ethically. She was truly a selfless person. Iona shaped her children's, grandchildren's, and their spouses' lives through the example of her kindness, openness, generosity, erudition, and travel quests.

Into her final weeks she traced the family history back to 13th century Norway and Ireland.

She was a role model even in death, embracing it as another chapter, handling it with the same grace and dignity that defined her life.

At 88, she passed away at home, with family by her side. At her request there will be no funeral, but a family gathering in 2020.

Family and friends may share memories and condolences at www.whidbeymemorial.com.
Published in Skagit Valley Herald on May 2, 2019
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