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  • The Des Moines Register

    Dependable, reliable, kind: Family, friends remember couple killed in Greenfield tornado

    By F. Amanda Tugade, Des Moines Register,

    29 days ago

    GREENFIELD — Family, friends and neighbors are mourning the four Iowans who lost their lives in the tornado that destroyed much of this Adair County town on Tuesday.

    Iowa state officials had not identified the victims as of Thursday afternoon. But family said two victims were septuagenarians Pam and Dean Wiggins, who lived north of the hospital, directly in the EF4 tornado's path.

    Close family, friends and colleagues say Dean Wiggins, 78, and his wife, Pam, 77, were a wonderful couple, dedicated to serving their beloved community of Greenfield. The couple's eldest son, Todd, confirmed with the Register that his parents were among the victims killed.

    Todd said his parents were the "epitome of 'Greenfield Strong.'" And had they survived, he says, he knows they would be helping others affected by the tornado.

    The couple had been married for 58 years.

    Dean was a volunteer firefighter, while Pam helped lead local groups such as the Greenfield Business Women and Adair County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. Pam also previously managed the Greenfield Senior Citizen Housing, an independent living facility for older adults, and volunteered at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

    As a couple, the Wigginses were dependable, reliable and kind, longtime neighbor and friend Carol Woosley said.

    "They were the kind of people that no matter what you needed — if you needed them — they would be there," she recalled.

    Woosley told the Register she and Pam knew each other long before they became neighbors and their families grew closer together. They both served on similar local boards. They were former classmates and lifelong Greenfield residents, said Woosley, who in the same breath spoke of Pam's sense of humor.

    "She always teased that our birthdays were within two days, but I was two days older than her," she said.

    Stacie Eshelman, executive director of Greenfield Chamber/Main Street and Community Development, echoed a similar sentiment. She told the Register how she first met Pam more than a decade ago. In 2012, Eshelman, who was then new to Greenfield, had attended a membership drive meeting for the Greenfield Business Women. Pam was president at the time.

    "She welcomed everybody and kind of told a little bit about the group, and then she said: 'Well, a lot of us aren't in business anymore, but we like to be in everybody else's,'" Eshelman said. "She said it like really funny. There was something about her just sort of being like honest but silly about it."

    F. Amanda Tugade covers social justice issues for the Des Moines Register. Email her at or follow her on Twitter @writefelissa.

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