"The duties of a teacher are neither few nor small, but they elevate the mind and give energy to the character." - Dorothea Dix
A faithful and loving mother and teacher, Clara Belle Baumgartner passed away February 19, 2023, at the age of 77.
Clara was born October 14, 1945, in Celina, Ohio to Zula Mae and Charlie Peterson. While her early childhood was spent in Arkansas, she and her mother moved to Corpus Christi after her father died when she was eleven. While her mother attended college to earn a teaching degree, Clara took up the duties of grocery shopping, cooking, sewing, and typing her mother's college papers. After graduating from Alice High School, Clara went on to attend Texas A&I University Kingsville, earning her Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.
Clara was an elementary school teacher and taught in Alvin, Petronila, Mathis, and West Oso, before retiring from Odem. She was very proud of her work as a H.O.S.T.S. coordinator, a reading intervention and mentoring program at Odem Elementary. With her love of children, she was an Awana leader for ten years with her church. She also volunteered at Christus Spohn South, and had over 2,500 hours of service. In her free time, she enjoyed reading, going to concerts, and giving to others. She loved gospel music festivals, with her favorite song being "How Great Thou Art."
A good listener and generous people-person, her family was the center of Clara's life. She counted the births of her daughters and the arrival of her four grandchildren to be the greatest days of her life. She never missed a grandchild's sporting event, concert, award ceremony, baptism, or birthday celebration, and always put them first. She loved traveling, and made many cherished memories with her daughters on their trips to Europe and the Holy Land, as well as family cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, the Panama Canal, and Europe. She taught them the importance of making time for your family, the value of education, and to be kind and giving to everyone.
Clara was very active in her church. She was a devoted Christian who put her relationship with Christ first, and was not afraid to share the Gospel with others. A member of Second Baptist Church, she attended every week, and if she could not come in person, would faithfully watch it online, even during her stays at MD Anderson in Houston. With her generous and loving heart, she sent letters to anyone new to the church, welcoming them to the church family.
Clara leaves behind her daughter and son-in-law Christa and Jeff DeGregorio, her daughter and son-in-law Audra and Kelly Ruble, and her grandchildren Rebecca DeGregorio, Nathaniel DeGregorio, Kylar Ruble, and Caden Ruble. She is with her parents Zula Mae and Charlie Peterson. The family would like to acknowledge the caring staff at Mirador Retirement Community, and give special thanks to her long-time physicians Dr. Jacqueline Cohn and Dr. Paul Heath, as well as to her Second Baptist Church family.
In order to honor Clara's life, her family has planned a visitation at 5:30 PM on Friday, February 24, 2023 at Maxwell P. Dunne Funeral Service - 5921 Yorktown Boulevard, followed by Celebration of Life at 6:30 PM. A Graveside Service will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, February 25, 2023 at Alice Cemetery - 1230 Martin Luther King Rd., Alice, TX 78332.
Her pallbearers will be her sons-in-law Jeff DeGregorio and Kelly Ruble, with her grandsons Nathaniel DeGregorio, Kylar Ruble, and Caden Ruble to serve as honorary pallbearers.
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