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Clara L Dobbeke
March 18, 1933 ~ December 18, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old
Clara Louise Heeren Dobbeke was greeted by Jesus and her beloved husband in Heaven on Monday, December 18. Born March 18, 1933, to Fred and Edith (Gestel) Heeren of Deer Grove, Clara was a devoted and loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this year. She is preceded in death by her husband, Fred Dobbeke, to whom she was married for 39 years before his death in 1992.
Born and raised in Deer Grove, Clara grew up with her 10 siblings where she would spend time skipping rope, playing hopscotch, listening to stories and music on the radio (including her favorite, Roy Acuff). Her favorite childhood TV shows included Howdy Doody and Ed Sullivan. Her first job as a teenager was babysitting, where she earned 50 cents an hour. From the age of eight, Clara learned to braid her own hair and intended to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a teacher, but God had other plans.
Clara met the love of her life when playfully swinging her purse while walking to her car after a movie in 1950. A truck filled with 3 boys stopped beside her and one grabbed her purse before driving off. She wasn’t worried though, and got the purse back shortly after arriving at a local hangout, where the boys were mingling. That’s where she met Fred. Soon after attending one of his football games, they started seeing each other and neither one wanted to date anyone else again.
Family was front and center in Clara’s life as evidenced by how proud she was of her eight children: Kathy (late Frank) Yaklich, Pamela (late Steven) Tobler, Julie Cecchino, Laurie (Michael) McCulloch, Cheryl (Neil) Tonkinson, Margery (Mark) Lukas, Angela (Patrick Hartough) Reiter, Tim (Amber) Dobbeke, 22 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren (with two more on the way), grand animals and many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins.
Holidays and no-reason-at-all weekends would find the family descending upon her house for gatherings that created memories to last a lifetime, including a secret snack drawer in the kitchen filled with her favorite cookies, the smell of her freshly baked cinnamon bread, keeping her favorite chair open so she could watch ice skating competitions and Jeopardy on TV, ordering chicken from the Happy Spot, joining her daily two-mile walk or ride on her iconic blue bike, and the most epic sleepovers that consisted of grandkids covering every inch of her floors with sleeping bags.
With a sharp mind and ability to tell a great story, she once shared a favorite childhood memory, recounting that her family had “two cows for milk - one black and brown - I used to wonder why we didn’t get chocolate milk out of the brown one.” Her infectious and boisterous laugh would make anyone within earshot chuckle, including her daughters who inherited her signature cackle.
Clara never owned a computer and instead chose to keep in touch with her large, tight-knit family and friends by old fashioned phone calls and mailing handwritten notes in her admired cursive handwriting. Never one to miss sending a birthday or anniversary card to her children and grandchildren, Clara made it her mission to ensure her family felt special and loved.
She danced at dozens of weddings, sang countless “happy birthdays,” made hundreds of dishes of baked ziti, played countless games of Rummikub and Trivial Pursuit, and knitted thousands of yards of yarn for her homemade Christmas ornaments.
Clara’s faith was an incredibly important part of her life. A member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tampico, Clara spent 50 years working as the Coordinator/Director of Religious Programs. When once asked about what makes a happy life, she shared: “A fulfilling life includes being in a relationship with God, staying close to family, being active in community, keeping active mentally, physically and spiritually. And caring & helping others.”
We will forever miss our cherished matriarch but are comforted knowing she was welcomed in Heaven by those who have gone before her, including her parents, grandparents, eight siblings (she is survived by her sister Emma Heeren Jones and brother Don Heeren), along with several nieces and nephews.
Oh the party they are having right now!
Visitation will be held on Thursday, December 21 2023 from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM at St. Mary Catholic Church in Tampico., immediately followed by the Celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30am. Burial will conclude at St. Mary Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to the Garland Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to Gianna House and St. Mary’s Church.