Clarice Ohman, age 97, a resident of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, died Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at PioneerCare Center, Fergus Falls, MN.
Clarice Birdella Ohman was born November 23, 1924 in Wahpeton, North Dakota, to Ella and Claus Johnson. When her father lost his job on the railroad during the Depression, the family bought a small farm near Amor, Minnesota and moved there in 1931, living for months in a frequently freezing hayloft while Claus built their new home. Clarice and her sisters thrived in a home that valued faith, education, music, economy, and hard work. (Alongside running a farm, Claus was the community’s ice man and carpenter, and Ella, its milk ‘man’ and seamstress.) Attending first a rural school and then Battle Lake High School, Clarice was salutatorian of her class in 1941. With the outbreak of World War II, with teachers in extremely short supply, Clarice enrolled in an accelerated teacher education program at Moorhead State Teachers College (now the University of Minnesota). Eighteen months later, aged nineteen, she was teaching in a K-8 rural classroom in Compton Township, Otter Tail County, Minnesota where she met David Ohman, the brother of one of her students and the nephew of the couple with whom she boarded.
World War II saw Dave enter the Merchant Marines where they were separated during the latter part of the war. Upon his discharge, he and Clarice married on August 25, 1947. They moved to Fridley, Minnesota where David worked and attended night business school before beginning his career with General Mills. Days before she was to begin her next teaching assignment, Clarice learned that she was pregnant and, given the times, never resumed that career. She spent the next 20+ years raising three children and supporting David’s advancement with General Mills. With each promotion came a move (7 in all), with Clarice helping sell and buy the family homes, choose and acculturate the children in schools, find physicians and piano teachers and churches, make new friends and maintain contact with old friends.
When her children were adolescents, Clarice began a second, volunteer career, supporting residents of area long term care facilities. Remembering the request of a woman who had helped her decades earlier to pay her kindnesses forward, Clarice later said of her volunteering, “I found my sacred space. God has guided me in understanding these friends, to recognize how their advancing years have been shaped by so many losses.” Her work began at St. Matthews in Park Ridge, Illinois and accelerated when she and David moved back to Minnesota in 1978. At Chapel View in Hopkins, Minnesota Clarice led discussion groups, reached out to the loneliest residents, helped stock and run bazaars, and served on its Board. She savored her relationships with residents and staff, particularly the many African refugees and immigrants there who called her “Grandma”.
Years before their return to Minnesota, Clarice and David acquired property on Lake Lida on a site that was platted by Clarice’s grandmother and uncle. Upon retirement, Clarice and David developed that property, which is now a family home. Spending time there, they reconnected with Central Lutheran Church, the childhood faith home of Clarice’s parents.
Beyond raising children and volunteering, Clarice loved to read (particularly historical fiction), play bridge, do ‘hand work’ (knitting, embroidery, crochet), watch birds and garden at her cabin, and visit with family and friends. Clarice is survived by her children Sandra (John) O’Donnell (Chicago, Il) and John (Jean) Ohman (Pelican Rapids, MN), three grandchildren, four great grandchildren, three great-great granddaughters, and two sisters, LaVerne and Lois.
Clarice was preceded in death by husband Dave and daughter Kathleen.
Memorial gifts in lieu of flowers may be sent to Augustana Chapel View Care Center in Hopkins, MN or Central Lutheran Church in Pelican Rapids, MN.
Visitation: Thursday, December 16, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Central Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, MN.
Funeral Service: 11:00 a.m., Thursday, December 16, 2021, at Central Lutheran Church, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota.
Burial: Compton Lutheran Cemetery, Deer Creek, Minnesota.
Clergy: Pastor Phil Tobin
Please keep Clarice's family in your thoughts and prayers.
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