Born September 19, 1924 at home in Sherman County,, Nebraska and passed away on May 23, 2018 in Modesto, California. Clara's love was unconditional. Family and faith meant everything to her. She regularly attended services at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Modesto.
Every time one of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren or great-great grandchildren would visit, she was thrilled and their visits brought her much joy and happiness. She carefully kept track of every visit and she told everyone the details of the visit: who, when, how long they stayed and the latest news about each.
Clara grew up near Ravenna, Nebraska on a farm with 5 sisters. She met and married Bernard (Bernie) Rathjen in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They had 55 years together and raised their five children in Calaveras County, California in a home built by Bernie where they raised hogs and grew almond trees. They moved to Ceres in 1989, where she lived until 5 years ago when she moved into a Senior independent living apartment complex in Modesto.
Clara was feisty and never slowed down. She drove herself to doctor appointments, her hair dresser and to shopping until March when she developed health issues.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Bernard, and two children, Gary and Lois. She is survived by her children, Michael Rathjen and his wife, Linda of Sutter, Donald Rathjen of Stockton, Esther Gonzalez and her husband, Gilbert of Modesto and Nance Steffen and her husband, Bill. She also is survived by her grandchildren: Sherry Edwards and her husband, Lorne of Occidental; Angela Avara and her husband, Jason of Sacramento; Donald (Paul) Rathjen of Stockton; Jeremy Rathjen of Oakland; Andrew Mitchell and his wife, Kiara of Cedar City, Utah; Felisha Gonzalez and Kendra Gonzalez of Modesto. She has 4 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.
Services will be held Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Peter Lutheran Church, 3461 Merle Ave, Modesto, CA 95355. Burial immediately following at Ceres Memorial Park, 1801 E Whitmore Ave, Ceres, CA 95307. Viewing will be held on Friday, June 1, 2018 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Franklin & Downs Funeral Home, 1050 McHenry Avenue, Modesto.
Memorial donations may be made to Saint Peter Lutheran Church or to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Memorials and Tributes, Northern California Chapter,1700 Owens Street, Suite 190, San Francisco, CA 94158.