Lawler retiring from Iowa River Hospice

After 12 years as executive director of Iowa River Hospice and 20 years total on staff, Marilee Lawler said it will soon be time to do other things.

From quilting, to home projects, to visiting friends and family, Lawler has plenty of plans upon her retirement after March.

Lawler, who lives with her husband Rex in New Providence, announced her retirement plans recently.

“I want to have time to do other things,” Lawler said.

The biggest endeavor in her 12 years at the helm of IRH is the building of the new hospice home, which opened in 2009.

“It’s a blessing to many,” Lawler said of the new home in Marshalltown.

Lawler said she believes Iowa River Hospice has a niche among the ever-changing landscape of healthcare. She said so much in the field has shifted to big business, but IRH has been able to maintain as an independent entity. Iowa River Hospice celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.

“I feel very strong that Iowa River Hospice can survive because of the community,” Lawler said.

The hospice has a total of 52 staff members and 60 active volunteers.

“It’s a business and you have to treat it like a business but we are a family environment,” Lawler said.

Lawler was a registered nurse when she arrived at IRH 20 years ago. She said being able to help people and their families during their last days has been rewarding.

“Being able to help people makes this the most gratifying position I’ve ever had,” Lawler said.

Joel Greer, chair of the Iowa River Hospice board, said Lawler has provided strong leadership.

“Marilee’s impeccable character and integrity helped her champion the local hospice to ensure that local patients and families received the very best the field has to offer,” Greer said.

Greer said a search committee is in place conducting a nationwide search for the new director.