What is Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss?

Death and grief are common human experiences, yet these experiences tend to be different for every individual. As a result, Hamilton's Academy of Grief & Loss offers a wide variety of resources available to you and your family as you begin to work through your grief.
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Academy of Grief and Loss
Academy Events

Academy Events

Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss offers a variety of services to educate, support and connect with those who are grieving.
Community Events

Community Events

Hamilton's Funeral Homes host a variety of events to serve and give back to our community.

Service Details


Saturday, December 13, 2014
2:00 to 5:00 pm
Hamilton's near Highland Memory Gardens
121 NW 60th Avenue
Des Moines


Sunday, December 14, 2014
2:00 pm
First United Methodist Church
1001 Pleasant Street
Des Moines


Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN


Hamilton's Funeral Home
605 Lyon Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
(515) 243-5221

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Ronda Armstrong

Ronda Mae Parks Armstrong, 63, died peacefully on November 28, 2014, at Iowa Methodist Hospital. Her body was donated to Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, for research regarding the Carney Triad, a rare tumor condition of which she was the first patient diagnosed in 1976. Lifelong medical issues did not stop her from living fully.

She was born in Emporia, KS, the daughter of Wesley and Marybelle Parks. She graduated from Emporia High School, Emporia State University, and earned her Masters in School Social Work (MSW) from the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. She moved to Iowa in 1975, first living in Carroll, IA and then moving to Des Moines in 1978. She worked for Heartland Education Agency for 32 years, one of the first school social workers to serve central Iowa and a leader in her field, advocating for young children with special needs. She believed in using strengths and resources to build solutions, helping many to do so. After retirement from school social work, she worked part time for Central Rehabilitation until 2014.

She also turned to another passion, writing. Her inspirational stories appear in many publications, including Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She also wrote meditations with a writing team for the Bridge, a downtown Des Moines organization. She belonged to Story Circle Network, Writing it Real and participated in WomensMemoirs.com.

She and Bill, her husband of thirty-three years, adopted “Dancing Through Life” as their motto. They danced often at Lake Robbins Ballroom and participated actively in several community ballroom dance groups: Castle Club and Dance Club 76 in Des Moines, and Red Friars in Ames. They served on the committee for the Castle Club’s 100th anniversary gala in 2013 and were featured in the November 2013 issue of dsm magazine for their passion for dancing.

Ronda will be remembered for her optimism and positive spirit, especially her caring and compassion, her faith and fortitude, her grace and generosity. She valued keeping in touch with family and friends. She loved writing and receiving letters and sending cards. She enjoyed author events and eating at neighborhood restaurants. She supported activities related to reading and writing, health and wellness, and spiritual growth. When not pursuing other passions, she was curled up with a good book and a cat purring on her lap.

A lifelong Methodist, she had served in many leadership capacities at Des Moines First United Methodist Church where she met and married Bill. Recently, she greeted before worship and prayed for the needs of others.

She was a lifetime member of American Association of University Women and a past Des Moines branch president. She belonged to National Association of Social Workers and formerly to Iowa School Social Workers Association, holding a variety of leadership positions. She received the first Iowa School Social Worker of the Year award in 1981.

Ronda is survived by her loving husband, Bill, and their devoted feline companions, Tiffy and Teddy; her sister, Margaret Herrick, Scottsdale, AZ; her sister-in-law, Barbara Webster of Mission Viejo, CA; and many special cousins and friends.

She and her family are grateful to all who provided medical care for her over the years and to the many persons who blessed her with love, laughter, and encouragement.

To honor her joyful spirit, please share a smile, a hug, a story, an act of kindness. Memorial contributions may be made in her name to the Des Moines First United Methodist Church or any local charity related to her interests.

Visitation will be held at Hamilton’s near Highland Memory Gardens Funeral Home, 121 N.W. 60th Avenue, Des Moines on Saturday, December 13, 2014, from 2 to 5 p.m. Celebration of Life, followed by a luncheon, will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 14, 2014, at First United Methodist Church, 1001 Pleasant Street, Des Moines, IA. 50309.

Condolences may be expressed at: