Carmen Sarah Saltzman of 2625 Vine Street in West Des Moines, Iowa, passed into the arms of God on February 17, 2017.
She was born Carmen Sarah Cochrum on January 26, 1915, in Groesbeck, Texas, to her parents Joe and Margaret Cochrum. Speaking with a slight Southern drawl throughout her life, Carmen was quick to remind her Union neighbors of her Southern origins.
Carmen showed an aptitude for music as a young girl, playing violin. She also enjoyed dancing and reading—when she was not visiting her family’s candy store. Books remained constant companions throughout her life, and she never lost her love of sweet treats.
After attending Groesbeck High School for her secondary education, Carmen attended the University of Iowa, due to her sister Margaret husband’s teaching zoology there. Carmen was studying to be an English teacher when she met Willis Woodrow Saltzman.
Carmen and Woody were married June 8, 1935 in Mt. Ayr, Iowa. Despite marrying at the young age of 19, Carmen took her vows seriously, remaining devoted to her husband through 70 years of marriage. While Carmen worked for a short time as a waitress in Mt. Ayr, she devoted her adulthood to being a housewife and loving mother to son William (Bill) and daughter Virginia (Ginger).
Following Mt. Ayr, Carmen and her family spent time in the Iowa towns of Red Oak and Oelwein, and finally settled in West Des Moines. There, when she was not taking care of her husband and family, Carmen enjoyed book clubs, women’s clubs, and playing Bridge. She practiced her faith as a Disciple of Christ in the West Des Moines Christian Church.
Known for her Texas-rooted Southern hospitality, Carmen was often heard saying, “I am overwhelmed,” when that graciousness was returned to her. Her family was always aware of how fiercely loyal she was to them. Her grandchildren recall that whatever endeavor they undertook, Carmen concluded firmly to anyone who would listen that they were the best at it. In her final years, her charm and quick wit made her a very popular patient to her caregivers.
Carmen is survived by her children, Bill and Ginger, as well as six grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. Carmen will join her husband Woody, who proceeded her into death on May 4, 2004. She is also proceeded into death by her siblings, Josephine, Margaret, and Camp.
Like the subject of her favorite poem by Joyce Kilmer, Carmen will be remembered as, “A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray. Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain. Poems are made by fools like me; But only God can make a tree.”
A memorial will be held for Carmen at Fairmeadows Village, 2625 Vine Street in West Des Moines on Saturday, February 25th at 10 a.m.