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ISU Alumni Center members host Memorial Day Ceremony on May 27. Attendees sang a remembrance song to the tune of "The Bells of Iowa State" during the ceremony. 

The Collegiate United Methodist Church brass played somber tones before the the Iowa State Alumni Association's annual Memorial Day ceremony began Monday at the Alumni Center.

Alumni Association President and CEO Jeffrey Johnson welcomed the attendees to the ceremony and gave a brief introduction.

“I want to salute Iowa State University for being the kind of employer and institution that remembers its employees and provides space and affirmation for programs like this,” Johnson said.

The ceremony remembers Iowa State faculty, staff and their spouses who died since the previous Memorial Day, or those whose deaths became known to the organizers in the past year.

An invocation was read to open the ceremony by Rev. Julie Erkel Hagee. Hagee said she understands Iowa State is a diverse community and not all those in attendance hold the same spiritual beliefs as her.

“I understand that you some of you may not identify spiritually with our prayer this morning, so during this invocation I invite you to remember those we are honoring today in whatever way accords with your spirit,” Hagee said.

The names of all of those who died were read, ranging in age from 25 to 102. Following the reading of their names, family and friends of the deceased were invited to briefly speak in remembrance of them.

Doris Johnson, widow of the late Dennis Johnson, spoke in memory of him. Dennis Johnson was a professor in the department of chemistry at Iowa State from 1968 until he retired in 2002.

“Dennis Johnson was my husband and my soulmate,” Doris Johnson said. “He was known as Doc Johnson, Doc, Denny and even the big cheese.”

Doris Johnson said the big cheese nickname originates in a story of a mouse that showed up in a new chemistry lab under Dennis Johnson’s watch.

The last months of Dennis Johnson’s life were difficult, Doris Johnson said, but she said he modeled them on a quote: “Never give up, no matter what your feet are stuck in.”

After more than a dozen individuals spoke in remembrance of their family and friends, Hagee gave a closing benediction. The benediction was followed by the playing of "Taps," and the ceremony ended.

To contribute the name of an Iowa State faculty member, staff or their spouses who have passed away, community members contact Jerilyn Logue at (515) 294-3192 or

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