Woody Brenton
Iles Funeral Homes - Dunn's Chapel - Des Moines
2121 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA
Woody Brenton

Des Moines - Woodward Graham Brenton is dead after 70 years of enthusiastically loving, learning, and leading. Woody was at peace with the coming of death - saying toward the end he had been fortunate in life.

As a man who cherished family, Woody was a dutiful son, a committed husband to two fortunate women, and an ever-present and proud father. At the time of his passing, Woody was gratified to have four lively, bright, and beautiful grandchildren.

Woody felt extremely grateful to receive a top-notch education: Dallas Center Elementary, Windsor Day School and Kurtz Middle School in Des Moines, Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Chicago. An avid consumer of the news and a continuous reader, Woody was a curious, lifelong learner.

As a fifth-generation Iowa banker and an energetic extrovert, Woody appreciated the connections he made throughout his career.

During his time at Manufacturers Hanover in New York City, his clients were some of the largest international corporations in the world. When called home to work for Brenton Banks in 1982, he was delighted to move back to Iowa. Woody found deep satisfaction in contributing to the family legacy while helping smaller local businesses thrive, especially during his time as bank president in the Quad Cities.

After banking, Woody embarked on a rewarding consulting career working with family-owned businesses to solve leadership issues. On many occasions, he took pleasure in developing a succession plan to smoothly transition a beloved family business to the next generation.

Woody gave back to the community with passionate service on local boards, including: The Des Moines Art Center, Coffin Fine Arts Trust, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Des Moines YMCA, and NAMI Iowa. He volunteered at Food Bank of Iowa in recent years.

Brewing a good pot of coffee, reading several newspapers, preparing a Mark Bittman chicken thigh recipe for dinner, and doing small things to improve the lives of others filled his retirement days. An avid list maker and eager caregiver, Woody liked to stay busy and sought to be helpful, asking little in return.

Variety, wonder, and spontaneity were at Woody's core. He loved a good road trip, especially the drive across Mexico. There was no Mayan temple too tall to climb. His attention-grabbing socks paired with colorful Crocs set him apart. Woody enjoyed a different cocktail every night, and while some eat to live, Woody lived to eat, savoring every culinary experience - especially if it included hot peppers or stinky cheese. The more stinky the better.

Woody was active on land, as well as on water. A tall, handsome man with a beautiful stride, running the New York City Marathon was his most notable personal achievement. He loved being on his bike on a sunny day. Drawn to water, Woody would frequently be found in a kayak, power boat or sailboat while seeking the joy and comfort of family time at his oceanfront home in Mexico and family homes on Spirit Lake, Iowa and Woman Lake, Minnesota.

Woody was a man of contradictions. He was careful to avoid carbohydrates but believed Mrs. Clark's mayonnaise, maple syrup, hots sauces, and all condiments in general were a separate note-worthy food group. He screamed when a Band-Aid was removed but sailed with a broken arm and complained of no pain as cancer metastasized into his bones. He rarely used profanity but owned a well-read volume of The Limerick.

Woody will be remembered as a quirky, kind, generous man - one who lived life to its fullest. If there is an afterlife, Woody is now kayaking amongst sea turtles in warm Mexican waters with Zorro, his Mexican hairless dog with hair, and Julie, his predeceased wife of 40 years.

For those of us left behind - the large extended Brenton clan; brother Bill Brenton and three nephews, children and spouses: Victoria Brenton and Adam Lackey, Woody T. Brenton and Vanessa Lang, and Ted and Yara Brenton; grandchildren: Zane, Jude, Zelda, and George; and his wife Michelle Book - his passing leaves an enormous chasm, as he adored each of us absolutely.

Woody's memorial service will be 11:00 am, Friday, March 12, 2021 at Lutheran Church of Hope, 925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa 50266. Interment of his cremains will be that afternoon on the Brenton family plot at Dallas Center Cemetery.

A live-stream of the memorial service from the church will be available shortly before 11:00 am on the link https://hopeonline.tv/specialevents

Memorials in Woody's honor may be directed to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, The Des Moines Art Center, Food Bank of Iowa, or Brenton Arboretum.

"My day is done, and I am like a boat drawn on the beach, listening to the dance-music of the tide in the evening." - from Stray Birds by Tagore

Published by the Des Moines Register from Mar. 8 to Mar. 14, 2021.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
Memorial service
Lutheran Church of Hope
925 Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines, IA
Funeral services provided by:
Iles Funeral Homes - Dunn's Chapel - Des Moines
Sponsored by Iles Funeral Homes - Dunn's Chapel - Des Moines.
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12 Entries
As a student at DMACC in the mid 1980s, I took classes in Ecology and Field Biology. We had the extreme privilege and pleasure of visiting land that was protected by Brenton Banks. These classes eventually led me to a B.A. in Natural History! I owe a big "Thank you" to all Brentons for starting me on a path to a well-loved avocation ...My heart goes out to the Brenton family for the loss of this wonderful man.
Karen Williams
April 21, 2021
UC Davis Family
March 13, 2021
Enjoyed working with Woody, he was a very good person and very good professional. Kind and very considerate. Great sense of humor with an infectious smile.
Dave Horner
March 12, 2021
Friends at NAMI Iowa
March 10, 2021
Woody was one of a kind. His obituary describes him perfectly. He was quirky, kind, smart and joyful. He jumped in several years ago with both feet to help with NAMI Iowa's Beautiful Minds event, introducing us to banks and bankers to ask for their support. Doing those visits with him was so much fun. How could it not be? Everyone loved him. Woody had a life well lived. He will be missed greatly by many, especially his wonderful family. My sincere condolences to all.
Peggy Huppert
March 10, 2021
Maryanne and Robert Sobiech
March 10, 2021
Cheryl Critelli Family
March 10, 2021
We send all of love to Ted, Yara, Zane and Jude - as well as all of Woody's family. We had the pleasure of spending time with Woody & Julie in Mexico along with Yara and Ted several years ago. He was kind, generous, funny and so knowledgeable! That trip holds a special memory in our hearts.
Isabel Labrecque
March 9, 2021
I remember the fun we had when we attended the one-room schoolhouse cottage in Kindergarten in Dallas Center. We spent much of that year inventing a variety of "electrical" contraptions, built them with modeling clay, and during the bathroom break, plugged in their clay coil cords "into" the basement walls. Undaunted by the fact that our creations kept disappearing, we continued to produce and install the products of our very young imaginations.
Mary McDonald Richard
March 9, 2021

Thinking of you at this difficult time. So sorry for your loss.

Claudia VanDerSluis
Claudia VanDerSluis
March 9, 2021
Mark Book and family
March 9, 2021
It was my great pleasure to have known/worked with Woody in the early/mid 80's. I am saddened to read of his passing and offer my deep condolences to the Brenton family. Kudos to whomever wrote his obituary, seldom do these capture the essence of a person and their life, this one did. Thoughts and prayers
Tom Hildebrand
March 9, 2021
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