Alfred Matthew Airola

Alfred Matthew Airola, 79, passed away on Wednesday, September 13, 2023, at University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m., on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at First Presbyterian Church. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church or Muscatine Symphony Orchestra. The Ralph J. Wittich-Riley-Freers Funeral Home will be in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be made at

Alfred was born on April 20, 1944, in Summitt, New Jersey. His parents were Teuvo Mathias Airola and Dorothy Junia Anderson Airola. His siblings are Teuvo M. Airola, Jr., deceased, a sister, Catherine Esther Airola Kucenas (Clay), and a brother, Stephen Arthur Airola. Alfred was the oldest.

Alfred grew up in Dover, New Jersey, attended public schools and graduated from Dover High School in 1962, having participated in band, cross country, and debate. He was a student as Shene Grammar School in London, England, during the school year of 1961-1962. Alfred’s father was Fullbright exchange teacher in London and the whole family lived there for a year.

He graduated from Wilkes College (now University) in 1966, with a BA in English. He was active in debate and was president of Cue and Curtain, which oversaw theater productions. He was a stage manager for several of these productions.

He married Carolyn Ruth Jenkins on August 12, 1967, in Dover, New Jersey.

Alfred and Carolyn moved to Messena, New York, where he taught high school English for three years. In 1969, they moved to Iowa City where Alfred in 1971, earned a Master’s in English and an EDS (Education Specialist) in Education. He taught at Muscatine Community College for three years. In 1977 he began teaching in the Muscatine Community School District as a high school English teacher and debate coach. While primarily a classroom teacher, Alfred also served as Staff Development coordinator. He returned to the classroom where he remained until his retirement in 2003. He accompanied groups of high school students to Japan and spent two months in Brazil as a teacher.

Alfred was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, serving as an Elder and Deacon and a member of many committees. He also significantly served in Marriage Encounter and the Cedar Rapids Walk to Emmaus. He sang with the Elks Chanters, Muscatine Civic Chorale, and the choir at his church.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, son, Matthew Sairanen Airola (Karen) and their two daughters, Rachel Ann and Allison Ruth; and daughter, Elizabeth Davenport Airola Negus (Carl) and their two sons, Teuvo Jedi Negus and Sean Matthew Negus.

He is also survived by his sister, Catherine (Clay) and brother, Stephen, and several nieces and nephews and brother-in-law, Donald Jenkins (Gwen) and sister-in-law, Janet (Charles Jenkins, deceased).

He is preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Teuvo in 1999; an infant grandson, Charles; and many aunts and uncles.