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A Warren County couple offers a free nature sanctuary for cancer patients and their families

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Iowan Jesse Johnston passed away after a 15-month battle with glioblastoma in December of 2020.

Near the end of her cancer battle, she, her husband and two sons moved in with her in-laws Minoo and Rick Spellerberg who live on a 20-acre property south of Des Moines.

A foundation was poured for a home for Jesse's family to live next door, and about one year after Jesse's passing, the Spellerbergs decided to finish building that house to open as a free retreat for families of those diagnosed with cancer to relax and reconnect with each other and nature.

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with the Spellerbergs about forming their non-profit Jesse J. Sanctuary Foundation to remember their daughter-in-law and the kindness she received during her cancer battle.

Also in this episode, 70-year-old jazz musician Gabriel Espinosa is retiring as director of jazz studies at Central Collee in Pella. Espinosa shares his excitement at the music-making opportunities ahead of him, as the Mexican-born bassist is releasing his sixth solo album this June.


  • Minoo and Rick Spellerberg, president and vice president, Jesse J. Sanctuary
  • Gabriel Espinosa, musician and associate professor of music, Central College
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio