Darrel Lee Wanatee

Darrel Lee Wanatee

TAMA-Darrel Lee Wanatee, 75, of Tama, passed away Sunday, June 20, 2021 at his home on the Meskwaki Settlement in rural Tama. Traditional Graveside Services will be held Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 2:00 PM at the McIntosh Cemetery on the Meskwaki Settlement in rural Tama with Larry Lasley Sr. as speaker. Head Pallbearer-Jarvis Bear Sr. Head Cook-Nina Young Bear. A Traditional Wake was held Monday evening at the Eagle Clan Ceremonial Building on the Meskwaki Settlement.

Darrel was born on March 7, 1946, in Marshalltown, Iowa, the son of Frank David Wanatee Sr. and Jean Adeline (Morgan) Wanatee.

He attained his GED at the age of fifty-one, to encourage others to keep learning and show that a person is never too old to learn.

Darrel worked as a machinist, welder, and maintenance at Fisher Controls in Marshalltown, Iowa, until his retirement after forty-five years. He made many close lifelong friendships that he thought of as family. He served twenty years on the Meskwaki Tribal Council, first being elected in 1977 when he was thirty-one years old and devoted years of his life to working hard to improve the lives of the Meskwaki people in economic development, education, housing, health, infrastructure, historical preservation, and safety and justice. He was a key figure in battling for the Tribe to have control of its own school. Darrel worked tirelessly to overcome a lack of resources, layers of red tape and negative stereotypes until finally in 1981 the Tribe was finally given the chance to run its own school and to provide a quality education on the Settlement as a choice for Native families and students. He believed in supporting education by fighting for proper resources, valuing educators and the work they do, providing sports opportunities and good food to learn healthy ways, and encouraging all young people to view education and knowledge as important, no matter what school they go to. “Go Warriors! Go Trojans!”

Darrel always arrived like a Knight in Shining Armor if anyone needed help, no matter how bad the situation was or how bad the roads were or how late the time of night or how stupid you had been. You always knew where he stood on any issue. If he cared for someone then they knew it, if he thought a person could do better, needed encouragement to try harder or should just quit crying around then he let them know that too. He loved many things: fixing just about anything, working on and riding motorcycles especially Harley-Davidsons, cruising with Amiga, woodworking and crafts, NASCAR, horses, cowboy boots, traveling, kids, and traveling with kids to show them how great this big old world is, Christmas lights, strong black coffee all day long, hunting and guns, keeping a tidy yard with pretty flowers, Snoopy, mushroom hunting, going to the Casino, Labor Unions, being a registered Democrat and following current events, fishing, learning history, reading, spending time with friends, his family and all the people who became part of his family. He and his wife, Rosemary, were licensed Foster Parents for many years and they opened their hearts and home to many children because they believed all children deserve to feel loved and have a right to be protected. Darrel didn’t like tools put back in the wrong place, whining, or laziness. He had a direct manner and a big heart.

He and Rosemary Wanatee, the love of his life, were married on May 25, 1965, for 45 years until her death in 2010. They had two children they loved dearly, Darrel Jr. and Donovan, who both passed away at young ages. They stuck together even during the lean times and hard times, and when he lost her he didn’t think he could go on without his best friend.

Survivors include his partner, Georgia Sanache, who he shared a home with on the Meskwaki Settlement; and Amiga Wanatee, his little buddy also of the home. Georgia came along at a time that he needed her most, and they shared the last years of his life with much love to the very end. Darrel is also survived by sons, Virgil Lasley and Larry Yazzie, both of Tama, Derek Kapayou, of Ames; daughter, Lindsay Kapayou, of Tama; his brothers, Frank Wanatee Jr. of Tama, John Donovan, of Peoria, Illinois, Aaron Walker and Michael Keahna, both of Tama, sisters, Elizabeth Roberts, Marian Davenport, Carolyn Joy, Robin Kapayou, Judith Bender, Donna Wolf, Karlene Armajo, and Nora Chavez, all of Tama; many cherished nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, more daughters and more sons…all much-loved, but also the special ones who he saw as the greatest gifts in his life: Courtney and Elaine. We all love you Bullfrog.

Preceding him in death were his parents; his wife Rosemary; sons Darrel Jr. and Donovan, siblings, David Clark, Ethelyn, Francis, and Donald Sr; beloved nieces Geraldine, Marva, Keshena, and Jean (Punkin); nephews, Micki, Ira, Darrell Salazar, Garry Jr., Troy and John.

Kruse-Phillips Funeral Home, Tama-Toledo is assisting the family with the arrangements.