Clara Magdalena Schenk of Rupert passed away Monday, January 4, 2021 at her home. She was 101 years old.
Memorial services will be held 11:00 a.m. Tuesday January 12, 2021 at Hansen Mortuary Chapel
Viewing for Family and Friends will be held from 5-7:00 p.m. Monday, January 11, 2021 at the Hansen Mortuary Chapel and for one hour prior to the service.
Clara’s service will conclude with burial in the Rupert Cemetery under the direction of Joel Heward Hansen Mortuary.
Clara Magdalena Schenk Shelton was born on October 21, 1919 at the Kamima Project, Kamima, Idaho to Katharina Dietz Schenk (Katie) and Gottlieb Schenk Jr. Clara was the second child born into a family which eventually totaled seven children. The family also included Gottlieb’s mother and father.
The Schenk family tried valiantly to hold onto the land in Kamima, but had to abandon the land due to the Federal government unfulfilled promise of irrigation. The family moved to Paul, Idaho and started over, purchasing the Schenk home farm.
Clara grew up in a busy farm home, with the planting and harvesting done by hand. She and her older brother Bill were mainstays of work support for their family.
Clara and her mother Katie cooked and preserved food for the family and the harvest crews. Mom remembered making 100 Kuchen cakes (Mom said you could not just throw on the fruit…Katie wanted a pretty pattern on top) and storing them in the spring house. The Schenk family did everything – raising their food, butchering, sausage making and preparing huge crocks of sauerkraut. The Schenk family were a hard working self- sufficient family. A trait that Mom passed down to her children.
The Schenk family spoke only German in the home…so when Clara went to first grade, her teacher Mrs. Dowd, told the class that Mom was lucky to speak German and that the class project was to teach her English. It helped that Mom was a quick study and as Phyllis (Douglas) Bloomer Mom’s lifetime friend told me….”Clara was the prettiest little girl she had ever seen”.
Clara loved learning and was sad to miss school often due to being needed for the work at home, but she persevered until her freshman year in high school when her much loved youngest brother Alvin was born. Clara’s mother Katie needed 24 hour assistance caring for Alvin – so Mom was told to quit school. When Mom told her principal that she had to quit, he said “No, you are a smart committed student – we will support you”. The principal devised a plan where Clara would pick up her lesson plans every Friday – teach herself at home and then come in the next Friday to take a test and start all over.
Mom remembers waking up with her head on the desk – but her place had been carefully marked with a feather by her Grandfather, Gottlieb Schenk, Sr.
Clara successfully completed her freshman year and returned to Rupert High School – graduating High School in 1937. Then it was off to Albion, Idaho with friends – Phyllis (Douglas) Bloomer and Virginia (Thomas) Jones to attend Albion Normal Teachers College.
The three friends lived in one room rented from the Albion coach and his wife. Mom said that the coach’s wife allowed them to put some food they brought from home in her fridge, otherwise there was no cooking facilities. Mom said they were all in good shape from ‘hurry’ walking the cold windy mile to the campus.
Every weekend Mom would come back to Rupert (courtesy of someone’s boyfriend) – clean Grandmother Schenk’s home and then went to work on Saturday at MH King Company as a salesclerk for 27 cents per hour. Evidently Rupert was a bustling town on Saturday night as all the farmers families did their shopping. Stores were open till 11 pm.
Clara was quite the salesclerk winning the top prize of a pair of nylons for the most sales. Mom said that being a bilingual German was a plus with German farm wives and selling $1.00 cotton dresses to families of 7 girls usually won her the prize.
Her earnings at MH King paid for school supplies, books, rent and the $100. per year tuition at Albion Normal.
Clara graduated from college in 1939 and said she was lucky to get a First Grade teaching position in American Falls, Idaho. That is where she met Shelton (Joseph W. Shelton II), a High School Speech and History teacher.
Mom’s teaching career was cut short due to World War II regulations that women’s teaching contracts were voided when she married Shelton on July 3, 1940. Mom always said that she thought it was fun to have Dad lose his independence right around that time that the United States celebrated theirs.
Dad continued to teach and Mom was approached by the Fairfield School Board – saying they were breaking the rules and offering Mom a position to teach grades 1-4 in their rural school. She accepted the position for one year.
To increase their family’s income Dad enrolled in an 8 month training in Seattle, Washington to be an air traffic controller and was stationed in Medford, Oregon for 3 years. Dad then decided he wanted to try farming and the family moved to Rupert and purchased the ‘Home Place’ – beginning life as a farm family. Their family expanded from Kathy born in Medford, Oregon to Patricia, Joe and Lois all born in Rupert, Idaho.
While continuing to farm, Mom and Dad started the Joe Shelton Agency – Insurance and Real Estate in 1959. Building the agency into a highly successful business and selling the insurance portion to Rupert Abstract in 1980. During their careers through skillful management and hard work Mom and Dad increased their holdings in farms and rentals.
Having fought hard for their own educations – Mom and Dad were committed to assuring each of their children were fully supported through their college degrees and further support for master’s degrees.
Mom also endowed the ‘Clara Shelton Scholarship Fund” to each of her 3 grandchildren – assisting their parents to continue Mom’s educational dreams for her family.
Mom said that she has always been extremely proud of her children’s accomplishments – all four being successful in college which enabled them to thrive in their adult lives – it was her greatest joy!
Since her husband’s death – Clara moved from a team player to a one woman show, managing her farms and rentals.
Sadly – Clara’s daughter Patricia was injured in a car accident, which left her as a quadriplegic. Pat and Mom became even closer as Pat went through training for her less mobile life – returning to the Home Place where Mom was Pat’s constant caregiver and #1 Fan.
Throughout her life – Clara was joyful, funny, caring and supportive to all of her extended family and friends! Clara was celebrated with a 100 year Jubilee in 2019 with 200+ friends in attendance. She definitely showed us that “100 years never looked so good”.
The luckiest ones of her friends were awakened every New Years Eve by Clara shouting “Happy New Year”. But the even luckier ones were treated to see her New Years frenzy of bell ringing….Mom completed her calls and bell ringing to bring in 2021! Oh, if we could all retain the Joy of Clara!
Clara is a member of the Rupert Methodist Church and a lifetime member of Eastern Star – E-DAH-HO Chapter #77 O.E.S, serving as Worthy Matron and being honored for her years of service.
Clara had multitudes of friends and strong relationships in her community. Clara’s family sincerely appreciates your kind thoughts and expressed memories and wants to acknowledge special friends who have made Clara’s last years happy…Maria Hernandez, Christie Wickel, and her Care Team: Vicki, Joan, Cassi, Tara, Britney, Samantha, Stephanie and Barb.
Clara left her earthly body on January 4, 2021. She leaves her surviving children: C. Kathryn Holst (Christian), Joseph W. Shelton III (Stacy), Lois Musseau-Bishop (Mike); her sister Ardena Snapp (Gene) and brother Alvin Schenk (Dorothy). She is also survived by three grandchildren, Dustin Shelton, Cassandra (Jeremy) Truelove, Samantha (Sean) Ciocca and seven great grandchildren, Evan, Aurora, Joey, James, Wiliegh, Chaselyn and Tatum.
Her husband Joseph W. Shelton II preceded her in death, as did her daughter Patricia J. Shelton, son-in-law’s John J. Musseau and Christian Holst and four of her brothers: Bill (Vera), Adolph (Bernice), Richard (Viola) and Albert Schenk.
Clara’s favorite charities were the Salvation Army and St. Jude’s Hospital for Children.
To help mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus, face masks and social distancing are recommended for the funeral and viewing.
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