Creston News Advertiser
Creston, Union County, Iowa
November 4, 2009
OBITUARY - CLARA "GALENE" (STEPHENS) VARNER
Clara Galene VARNER, 90, of Madison, Wis., formerly of Diagonal and Mount Ayr, died Oct. 24, 2009, at Don and Marilyn
Anderson Hospice Care Facility in Madison.
Memorial services will be 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home, 205 W. Monroe St., Mount Ayr. The
Rev. Skip RUSHING will officiate. Visitation with lunch will be noon to 1 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.
Clara Galene VARNER passed peacefully from this life on October 24, 2009 at the Don and Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare
facility in Madison, Wisconsin.
Galene was born at home in Blockton, Iowa, on September 28th 1919, the fourth of five children of Allen and Lena STEPHENS.
Galene fondly recalled her childhood as a time filled with family, church and school. Galene spent her formative years in
the midst of the great depression. Her children and grandchildren often asked Galene what it was like to be in high school
during the depression: "Were you poor?" they’d asked. She would reply, "Yes, we were probably poor, but we didn’t know it.
We had a big garden and always had plenty of food."
Galene graduated from Diagonal High School in Diagonal, Iowa, in 1937, the valedictorian of her class, a cheerleader and
the winner of several typing competitions. Immediately upon graduation Galene began teaching during the school year in one
room county schools. During the summers she attended Simpson College. Galene was quick to point out that one room schools
were an excellent educational model since older students learned by teaching younger students. In the spring of 1943
Galene boarded a train in Diagonal, Iowa, and traveled to San Francisco where Alvin VARNER, her high school sweetheart who
was serving in the Marine Corp, proposed to her. On June 18th 1943, while Alvin was on leave, Galene and Alvin were
married at the Diagonal Methodist Church parsonage. Alvin’s brother, Paul and his wife, Verla Dean, accompanied the
couple. After the war, Alvin and Galene settled in Mount Ayr, Iowa where their three children were born: Jeanette in
1946, Carlton in 1947, and Max in 1950. Galene took an active role in her children’s activities, volunteering countless
hours for the church, school, scouting and other activities in which her children participated. Galene and Alvin raised
their family in the towns of Mount Ayr, Leon, Centerville, and Burlington, Iowa. In each of those communities, Galene
actively participated in P.E.O and Methodist Women’s groups. She was particularly interested in volunteering her time to
hospitals. In retirement Galene and Alvin resided in Belle Vista, Arkansas; Coronado, California; and Sun City, Arizona.
Alvin and Galene’s 64 year marriage ended with Alvin’s death in Sun City in August 2005.
Volunteering continued to a big part of Galene’s life in retirement. Galene treasured the many friendships she made
throughout her life and carried on an active correspondence with friends up until her death. Her grandchildren treasure
many memories created at grandma’s house. Galene lived in many locations throughout her life, but she never wavered when
asked where her home was: she would always answer, "Mount Ayr."
Galene was preceded in death by her parents, Lena and Allen STEPHENS; brothers, Gayland and W. A.; sister, Guelda MOON;
and son, Carlton. She is survived by her sister, Gwenive DINKEL, of Harlan, Iowa; daughter, Jeanette, and her husband
Greg SHEFFER of Coronado, California; daughter-in-law, Charlotte VARNER of Pasadena, California; and son, Max VARNER and
wife Diana of Verona, Wisconsin. Galene’s grandchildren include Katie FOWLE, Lindsay, Courtney, Charles and Natalie VARNER
and two great-grandchildren, Jake VARNER and Raya FOWLE.
Visitation with a light lunch will be at the Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr on Saturday November 7, 2009
beginning at noon followed by a memorial a service at 1 pm. Galene will be laid to rest beside her husband Alvin in
Rose Hill cemetery in Mount Ayr.
In lieu of flowers the family requests gifts to the church of your choice.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2009
To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.
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