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Roberta Arlene Sobotka was born to Donald and Esther Johnston Butt on February 8, 1936 northeast of Diagonal on her grandparent’s farm. She grew up in rural Diagonal and graduated from Diagonal High School in 1954. With her friend, Reba Rychnovsky, Arlene headed for the big city of Des Moines and worked for Meredith Corporation. When high school sweetheart, Carol ‘Oss’ Sobotka, returned from the service, they were joined in marriage on February 11, 1956. They made their home in Des Moines for the next four years where Randy and Gary were born. In 1960, Oss and Arlene returned to the farm; Pam and Shelly soon arrived with Doug bringing up the rear. In 2001, Oz and Arlene moved to the south edge of Diagonal and Arlene set about making it look its best. She loved her flowers and spent many an hour on the mower.
Arlene always made family a priority and her home was the gathering spot. With 13 grandchildren she could be seen with her color-coded calendar traveling from one activity to the next.  She was so proud of all, but never failed to offer her advice.
Arlene loved to cook. She was fondly known by her family as the owner and sole employee of ‘Big Mama’s’ catering. If you needed cookies or other goodies, her freezer was the place to go, and invaders would find everything neatly labeled with cooking instructions, too. Homemade ice cream sandwiches were one of the most popular but the rule was only one per visit. Grandkids were known to drive out of the drive way, make a quick turn-around, and return for a second one! Paybacks were often given in the form of food as the Sur-Gro crew will attest.
Volunteering and giving back were priorities in her life. She was always looking and working for ways to improve our community. Arlene was an active member of the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Diagonal and served the Lord faithfully as a board member during the unification of our churches, Bible School, Harvest Sale, suppers, and more. She also worked diligently to help establish the Diagonal Printing Museum, complete the diorama of Knowlton, give school tours, write grants, and ‘sit’ with the building on weekends. Arlene had fond memories of helping organize Diagonal’s Centennial, but she really showed her persistence when she worked to successfully move the bridge to Fogle Lake.
Arlene was a leader of the Jolly Jinglers 4-H Club, member of the Ringgold County Extension Council, and was inducted to the State 4-H Hall of Fame in 2004. She also worked hard to expand the open class division at the Ringgold County Fair and was named “Iowan of the Day” in 2001 by the Iowa State Fair.
Arlene was preceded in death by her husband Carol, her parents and in-laws.
She is survived by her children, Randall (Jan) Des Moines, Gary (Darla) Mount Ayr, Pamela (Robert) Grace, Shelly (Alan) Bentley and Doug (Darla) Sobotka all of Diagonal; thirteen grandchildren, Jeremy (Allison) and Steven Grace (Lasea), Christopher Sobotka (Megan) and Megan Sobotka VanZandt (Derrick),  Rachel Sobotka Inloes (Michael), Cody (Stephanie), Matthew (Caitlin), and Alex Sobotka, Andrea Bentley Pauli (Jason), Bradley (Taylor) and Michael (Jessi) Bentley, Katie and Erin Sobotka; and 21 (with more on the way) great-grandchildren.
Sevices were held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at the United Church of Diagonal in Diagonal, Iowa.
Officiating was Rev. Gwen Trullinger.
Musicians were Judy Newton and Cheryl Whittington.
Congregational hymn was “Hymn of Promise”.
Casketbearers were Steve Newton, JP Whittington, Kenny Sobotka, Chuck Klejch, Frank Gunsolley and Alex Stephens.
Honorary pallbearers were her grandchildren.
Arlene was laid to rest at the Bohemian Cemetery, Diagonal, Iowa.
Arlene’s memorials are to the Diagonal Printing Museum and the United Church of Diagonal.
Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr is in charge of the arrangements. Online condolences may be left at

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