Clara Galene Varner september 28, 1919 – October 24, 2009

     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 28, 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 ask. 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 country 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 18, 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 Bella 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 be 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 husband Greg Sheffer of Coronado, California; daughter-in-law, Charlotte Varner of Pasadena, California, and son, Max Varner and wife Diana of Verona, Wisconsin; grandchildren, Katie Fowle and 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 service at 1 p.m. with Rev. Skip Rushing officiating.
    Galene will be laid to rest beside her husband, Alvin, in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Mount Ayr. In lieu of flowers the family requests gifts to the church of your choice.

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