Clara Haven Loge, born on Dec. 30, 1917, in the homestead home of her Norwegian immigrant parents, Nilla and Mathias Haven, on the snow-covered prairie of rural McHenry, North Dakota, died in Dillon on Oct. 24, 2017, a few weeks short of her 100th birthday.
At the time of her birth, their neighbor midwife declared, “Ja, ho er den fineste jente” (Yes, she is the nicest girl) an attribute branded on her then and lived out through her 99 years. Clara was grounded, along with her four siblings, in the Norwegian-American- Lutheran culture of the enclave of immigrant farmers — instilled with a strong sense of family, community, faith and love of music which defined her life.
Following her graduation from Oak Grove Lutheran High School in Fargo, North Dakota, she obtained a teaching degree at Valley City State College. With our country engaged in World War II, her horizons stretched to California for work in the home front war effort there. In North Dakota, she taught in the various school districts of Hannaford, Cooperstown, Sharon, Dover and Luverne. Her long career teaching elementary children utilized her special talents of nurture and humor to make the school day fun for her pupils. Many former students fondly remember those days with smiles and stories.
Clara met Maynard Loge, a recent Navy war veteran, on an arranged date at Stone’s Café in 1946. The sparks of that encounter blazed into love; marriage ensued on Sept. 13 that same year. They bought a farm near Hannaford, North Dakota, renovated the farm buildings and grew crops and livestock.
Three children soon filled their new home. They also took in foster care boys, Lester and David Andersen, and provided a loving family farm experience for them. With her characteristic cheerfulness, Clara managed the family, taught school, cooked for threshing crews, engaged in church activities and enjoyed friendships and mutual support of neighbors.
In 1964, the call of the West brought the family to St. Regis where they acquired a small ranch. Clara taught at schools in Saltese, St. Regis and in Superior. She was ahead of her time as she recognized the potential in each student and sought creative ways to make learning happen for all, no matter their learning challenge.
The door to her home was always open, the coffee pot on, with laughter to share and homemade bread with strawberry-rhubarb jam spread for everyone who visited. She was involved in many social groups such as the community
church functions, St. Regis senior citizens group, hat parties and more. With each group she brought joy and entertainment for all — young and old.
After their retirement, Maynard and Clara traveled to Norway to meet cousins about whom they had heard so much growing up and to experience first-hand the iconic places of their parents and grandparents in the “old country.”
Clara remained at St. Regis after Maynard’s death in 2000. Her front porch with views of the ranch meadow and Sheep Mountain was a gathering place for family and friends and an occasional curious bear or cougar. Any unaware visitor who joined her for a game of Scrabble soon learned what it was like to play with a master — a skill not lost as she aged.
Clara lived independently, with her son Denley just down the hill, until she suffered a hip fracture at age 94.
She moved to Dillon for convalescence closer to her son Ron and his family. Despite physical setbacks, those who walked by her side experienced her cheerful spirit and expressions of love, even in her last words of “I love you all” and “Jesus, be near me.” She left this world loving and much loved — a fitting benediction at the completion of a life well-lived.
Clara Loge was preceded in death by her parents, Matt and Nilla Have;, and her sister, Borghild Haven; brothers, Clarence Haven, Rangvald Haven, and Melvin Haven; husband, Maynard Loge; and grandson, Jared Smith.
She is survived by her three children, Nola Smith (Sherlund) of Arlington, Wash., Ron Loge (Charlene) of Dillon, and Denley Loge of St. Regis; and by two granddaughters, Anna Loge (Brett Maki) of Dillon and Laura Loge (Nels Peterson) of Bellevue, Wash.; six great-grandchildren, step-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in the multipurpose room of Superior High School, preceded by a private family graveside burial in St. Regis. A reception and time to share memories will follow the funeral at Trinity Lutheran Church in Superior.
Memorials may be directed to Trinity Lutheran Church, a local hospice organization, or the donor’s choice.