Clarissa Henrietta (Stek) Rozenboom was born in her parent’s home southeast of Lacey, Iowa on June 8, 1921, the firstborn child of Will and Gertie (Heslinga) Stek. It was quite a day when she made her appearance. As if her birth wasn’t momentous enough, her young father had three flat tires on his car when he was trying to get grandma there to help with the birth.
Clarissa was born into a loving, faithful, generous and hard-working farm family and they all pulled together, especially during the tough years of the Great Depression. In short order, Clarissa had four younger brothers and sisters: Kathryn, Harriett, John and Gordon. Her youngest brother, Gordon, was born severely handicapped with cerebral palsy. The care of Gordon was a family affair which profoundly affected their lives as they selflessly cared for him well into his adulthood.
Clarissa attended a two-room country school almost two miles from their farm home. After she graduated from 8th grade, her aunt urged her parents to consider sending her to high school. Since high school was 10 miles away in Oskaloosa, she stayed during the week with her aunt and uncle. She decided she wanted to become a teacher, so after high school, Clarissa took a teacher training course at William Penn College. Clarissa taught at two country schools for a total of four years: First at Bryan School, then at a school named Mauch Chunk where she received a salary of $85 for nine months of teaching.
Clarissa met her future husband, Gerald Rozenboom, at church in 1940. She was playing the organ and after the service, he asked her for their first date. Their courtship began as World War II was escalating. Consequently, Gerald was drafted into the Army in 1942 and was called to serve overseas during WWII, and they spent much of their courtship separated. Clarissa continued to teach until her parents made the difficult decision to sell their farm and move to Baltimore, Maryland to seek intensive medical help for their handicapped son. Clarissa moved with them to help care for Gordon and to drive him to appointments in downtown Baltimore.
While Gerald and Clarissa continued their very long-distance courtship, the war raged on. On a short furlough before Gerald was to be shipped to fight in Japan (which Gerald said would likely be a one-way trip), they decided to get married! Clarissa took a train home from Baltimore, and they joined together as husband and wife on a very significant day, VJ Day, August 14, 1945. This was a jubilant day for them because they were finally united, the war was over, and Gerald could remain stateside for the remainder of his service.
Gerald and Clarissa began their married life near Wright, Iowa where they lived and farmed until their retirement years. They were blessed with six children: Allan Eugene, Calvin Leon, Norman Duane, Kenneth John, Kathleen Mae and David Allan. Sadly, Allan passed away at age 15 from Hodgkins Disease, on June 29, 1962. Exactly a year later to the day, their youngest son, David Allan, was born and he helped to fill the empty place in their hearts. Her family was very dear to her, which was made evident in countless ways.
Clarissa was a faithful and active member of Bethel Christian Reformed Church, Oskaloosa where she served in many ways through the years. She was a woman of deep and abiding faith, always willing to lend a hand and an inspiration to many. She held neighborhood Bible studies in her home, attended Bethel Bible Hour until she was homebound, served with the Willing Workers at the Oskaloosa Christian School, and spiritually mentored prisoners for 15 years through Crossroads Bible Institute. She served many years on the Mahaska Hospital auxiliary board, volunteering in the snack shop at the hospital. She and Gerald volunteered at Nelson Pioneer Farm and served on the Crop Walk committee for several years. Clarissa was a homemaker extraordinaire, a lover of nature, a productive gardener, an avid reader and a talented seamstress on her beloved Kenmore. Her special gift was sewing “ruffled” rugs, a skill she learned from her mother and most of which she gave away. Her children, many relatives and acquaintances were recipients of these finely crafted and durable rugs and still cherish them to this day.
In 2017, Clarissa and Gerald moved to the Oskaloosa Care Center where Gerald passed away at the age of 97 after 74 years of marriage to “Chrissie”, the love of his life. Clarissa lived to celebrate her 100th birthday on June 8, 2021, but passed away shy of her 101st birthday on April 11, 2022. She often said in her last few years, “what would we do without the Lord?” and she remained a faithful prayer warrior until she passed. She was quick to say that, when she felt so alone at night at the nursing home, she would often sing “Abide with Me” and that sustained her. She was a wonderful, resilient and faithful mother that left a beautiful spiritual legacy to her children and their children.
Clarissa was preceded in death by her husband Gerald and their son, Allan. She outlived all her original family as well as all of Gerald’s large family. Left to cherish her memory are her five remaining children and their spouses, Calvin (Connie) Rozenboom; Norm Rozenboom; Ken (Becky) Rozenboom; Kathy (Carroll) Hoksbergen; and Dave (Tammy) Rozenboom her 12 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Calvin and Connie (Grandia) Rozenboom
Craig and Sheri James – Caleb, Corbin and Carsten
Doug and Patti Uitermarkt – Colten, Emily and Dylan
Hope and Gergely Peter – Zachary
Ken and Becky (Goemaat) Rozenboom
Andrew and Tricia Koster – Ashleigh, Lily and Jake
Matthew Rozenboom – Roman
Carroll and Kathy Hoksbergen
Ben and Karen Hoksbergen – Millie and Tiberius
Curt and Carrie Kelderman – Greta and Grant
Joe and Katie Hoksbergen – Leah, Jenna, Micah and Elijah
Dave and Tammy (Schouten) Rozenboom
Josh and Katie Soodsma – Levi, Josie, Piper and Sylvie
Jon and Heidi Vogel and baby due in May
Mike and fiancé, Kathy Klaver
Brett and Shelby Rozenboom – Damon and Ava (born the day of Clarissa’s passing)
Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 16, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. in the Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Oskaloosa with Pastors Phil DeBoef and Doug Van De Pol officiating. There will be a family prayer service at 9:45 a.m. in the fellowship hall of the church. Burial will be in the Forest Cemetery in Oskaloosa. The Bates Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements. Visitation will begin Friday after 12 noon in the Bates Funeral Chapel and the family will be at the funeral home from 4-6 Friday evening to greet friends and relatives. Memorials may be made to Oskaloosa Christian Grade School Willing Workers.