Michelle Westholm, 47, Des Moines

Michelle was born in 1975 in Des Moines, IA, the daughter of an evangelical preacher, Bill Westholm, and a baker, Laura (Suderman)(Westholm) Hughes. She passed away in São Paulo, Brazil of a cerebral hemorrhage on February 20, 2023.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00a.m. on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, at the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, IA with Pastor Paul Phillips officiating. The service will be livestreamed on the Gospel Lighthouse Church Facebook page. Burial will be at 2:00p.m. at Beckwith Cemetery in rural Colwell, IA.

Visitation will be held from 10:00a.m. until the start of the service on Tuesday at the church.

Michelle Meredith Westholm lived with a vitality and urgency that understood life’s brief nature… and that yearned to experience new and wonderful things. She was a passionate high school teacher, photographer and boxer. Her photography and teaching served others in an earnest attempt to pass those experiences on, and to motivate and empower people to explore the world and themselves more fully.

Michelle grew up in small towns across Minnesota and Iowa where her father pastored. She earned a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Religion at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA, a Masters in Religion and Ethics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and a second Masters in Education at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

She was married to Graciano Hervert Bermudez from 1995 to 2002. She moved abroad in 2003 and lived in Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Japan and Brazil, where she taught humanities to international high school students. At her death she was teaching her favorite subject, film, through the lens of ethics. As a photographer, Michelle described her work displayed at as focused on urban aesthetics and ritualized performances of masculinity.

Michelle appreciated all art and human expression; she believed that anything worth saying is worth putting much time and effort into saying beautifully. She adored functional things (toothbrushes, toasters, scissors, eyeglasses) that strove to be art. She appreciated beauty in the simple and the mundane.

Michelle was predeceased by her father, William (Bill) Westholm and her grandparents, Myrtle Westholm, Woodrow Westholm, and Dr. Joe and Rosalie Suderman.

Living family members include: mother, Laura Hughes; stepfather, James Hughes; siblings, Jason Westholm and Katherine Westholm; stepsiblings, Bryan (Emily) Hughes and Megan (Brian) Lenzmeier; friend, Victor Servin; boyfriend, Guilherme Bonotto Furman; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Memorials may be sent to The Michelle Meredith Westholm Scholarship Fund at First Security Bank, 809 Clark Street, Charles City, IA 50616.

Hauser Weishaar Funeral Home, (641) 228-2323, 1205 South Main Street, Charles City, Iowa 50616 is in charge of local arrangements.  Online condolences may be left on the Tribute Wall for the family at

Mark Pitz

News Director/Weekdays 10am to 2pm on 95.9 KCHA
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