Cristina L. Mathis

September 14, 2023

Service Details

Cristina L. Mathis, 51, died at home on September 14, 2023, from complications of her long, brave battle with Muscular Dystrophy.

Everyone who knows Cristina, knows she was a strong, smart, funny woman. Well educated and well read, she knew a plethora of big words, but preferred the shorter, four-letter variety. She was once described with the phrase “Her legs may not work, but her mouth sure does.” That sums her up well, she was not afraid to tell you what she was thinking, and she’d usually make you laugh while she told you off. She could roll in and light up any room, but she never smiled. Her smile was one of the first things the debilitating Muscular Dystrophy took from her, even before it was diagnosed when she was 12.

Cristina was born in Des Moines and lived in Iowa all her life. She grew up in Lakewood, just south of Des Moines, and graduated from high school in Waterloo. Most recently, she lived near her family in Urbandale.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Iowa, she worked fighting for the rights of people with disabilities, often traveling to Washington D.C. to lobby for those rights. For the past 17 years, she worked for Principal Financial Group as a senior compliance analyst. As she described her work, she wrote that small print at the bottom of the financial documents that no one wants to read. And while no one wanted to read it, she still took great pride in making sure it was accurate.

Cristina loved art and creating, she was an accomplished jewelry designer and loved sharing her craft with others. She was also a fantastic patron of the arts, curating a great collection of original paintings, sculptures and ceramics. Shortly after 9/11/2001, she recalled a favorite artwork that hung in Washington National Airport and was concerned that the airport might not reopen and the painting would no longer be visible. She contacted the airport authorities and negotiated to buy the massive four-foot by six-foot work and have it shipped to her in Iowa. That’s the kind of moxie Cristina had, you simply could not tell her “no.” She was also a great writer, we only wish she could have written this obituary, as she certainly would have done it better.

She is survived by her mother and best friend, Cheryl Mathis; her brothers, Kevin (Nancy) and James (Kara); a nephew, David (Leah); niece, Michelle; and her sweet and dramatic cat, Murphy.

She was proceeded in death by her father, James Mathis, Sr. and her beloved dog, C.J.

A visitation will be held Wednesday, September 20, 2023 from 12:00 p.m. noon to 1:30 p.m. with a memorial service at 1:30 p.m. at Hamilton’s on Westown Parkway, 3601 Westown Parkway in West Des Moines. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her honor to the Clive Community Food Pantry or the charity of your choice.