Clara A. (Sprank) Lucke, 102, of Bellevue, Iowa, passed away peacefully at home early Thursday morning, November 21, 2019. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, November 27, 11 a.m., at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bellevue, with interment in St. Joseph cemetery. Visitation at Hachmann Funeral Home & Cremation Service will be 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 26, and Wednesday, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Clara was born December 14, 1916, in Springbrook, Iowa, to Magdalena (Heiar) and Peter Sprank. At six weeks, she moved with her family to a Washington Township farm, south of Bellevue, which remains in the Sprank family. There, she grew up with six siblings through war and the Depression, learning resourcefulness and a work ethic that shaped her life.
Clara saw potential beyond appearance in objects and individuals. Her insight, curiosity, creativity, appreciation of all life forms, and industriousness manifested daily. Many children and animals learned life skills from Clara. Her talents in sewing, chair caning, horticulture, and other creative endeavors were in demand. Her delicious food is legendary to many, especially her bread, cookies, pies, and garden produce.
Clara graduated from Washington township school and worked in homes from the age of 12. In 1933, she came to Bellevue to assist the Lucke family. To aid WWII efforts, she worked at the G. M. Gibson factory in Bellevue. Steadily promoted, she remained with the firm until early 1951.
On September 9, 1947, Clara married Charles F. “Buzz” Lucke, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bellevue and became mother to three children: Susan, Steve, and Terry. While raising her family, Clara remained generous with her talents. She spent a lifetime caring for others, including children left in her care by working parents, elderly relatives, and neighbors. She rarely thought of herself without thinking first of others.
Clara was an active member of St. Joseph Catholic Church for decades. Among activities, she helped with annual cleanings of the rectory and church as well as preparing, cooking, and serving at church and school functions. She regularly sent home-cooked foods to priests in residence as well as did sewing alterations and mending for them. For 33 years, she washed and ironed vestments and altar linens, able to starch and press pure linen without a wrinkle.
Before her vision declined, Clara was a masterful seamstress. Her children grew up with customized clothing and costumes. For many years, she altered menswear for Lucke Bros. store. In 1969, she helped design and sewed “fog” for the MHS production of “Brigadoon.”
Because Charles was a longtime Bellevue fireman, following his death in 1979 and at the invitation of then BFD chief Carl Kieffer, Clara began making pie crusts for the annual chili supper. Later assisted by her sister Edna, she made crust for as many as 160 pies a year. In 2013, illness and vision loss regrettably ended this service. At the 2016 event, the BFD and EMS hosted a wonderful 100th birthday reception in her honor.
Well into her 90s, Clara raised and sold African violets and other house plants to benefit
St. Joseph church and school, giving as much as $200 per year. People phoned for plant care advice. Always wanting to work, Clara participated in household activities until early this year.
Clara is survived by her children Steven (Carol Gerlach) Lucke of Andrew, Susan Lucke of Bellevue, and Terence (Liz) Lucke of Kennewick, Washington; seven grandchildren and step-grandchildren; 11 great grandchildren; sisters-in-law Marian (Peter) Sprank and Jeannette (Ardo) Sprank; nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.
Close family who preceded her in death are her husband; parents; six siblings and spouses: Leopold, Martha (Sylvester) Schwager, Mavis (Leo) Meier, Edna (John) Leonard, Ardo Sprank, and Peter Sprank; in-laws John J. (Genevieve) Lucke and Gertrude (Richard) Gaylor; three nephews; and Genevieve Lucke, whom Clara cared for into 2004.
Clara’s family wishes to extend gratitude to Hospice of Jackson County and Medical Associates health care practitioners as well as other health care providers, family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances whose, compassion, kindnesses, expertise, and assistance enabled and enriched Clara’s long, well lived life. In lieu of flowers (Clara has plants to share), a memorial fund has been established.
Online condolences may be left for the family at www.hachmannfuneralhome.com