In Loving memory of Mom, we submit a summary of her life. She was born in her maternal grandmother’s home in Guttenberg, Iowa on October 2, 1934. She grew up on the family farm near Clayton Center. After graduating valedictorian of her 1952 Garnavillo High School class, she moved to Dubuque to attend business school, but her favorite memory of that time was working in the music store. She loved music, especially Ray Price and Roy Clark.
She was pursued and courted by Keith H. Lau. Their relationship began after a brief encounter in high school when, while she was walking through his class, he noted out loud that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. Her baby blue eyes just sparkled with life and more than a bit of mischief. They were married on July 27, 1953, the day of the signing of the Korean Conflict Peace Accord and shared adventures for almost 57 years until he preceded her in death on July 2010. He loved her more than anyone could ever imagine, as did we.
She was a full-time homemaker and wife, helping on the farm when they first humbly began their life together. She was a loving, kind and patient mother; easy going but firm in her resolve; some may say even a bit stubborn. Her bread and coffee cake as well as her Christmas cookies and candies were culinary legends in our family. She raised six children, starting on the farm, while baking her own bread, churning her own butter, washing clothes with a wringer washer and the outdoors as a dryer, milking the cows; making it all seem easy. She did what needed to be done. She was the strongest person we knew.
Valene and Keith moved to Vinton in 1968, where he worked for Farm Bureau Insurance and she made a life for her family for 30 years until retirement. She continued to be our support and anchor while engaging in her weekly bowling league, coffee chats with girlfriends, garage sales shopping and spending summers on the farm with her children. She enjoyed reading, knitting, needlework and thinking in her chair. Mom always greeted everyone with a smile—she had such a beautiful smile.
Valene was always ready to go (her suitcase often consisting of a plastic bag of essentials) and enjoyed car rides and travel and when starting out would always be heard saying, “here we go, loop de loo!” and when returning home would exclaim with a smile, “home again, home again, jiggity jig!” She and Keith traveled to many places and embarked on many long car trips out west. Her favorite place to travel was anywhere she went for the first time. There was a special place in her heart for the Black Hills, S.D. and Beartooth Highway out of Yellowstone, but her favorite place on Earth was at home with family around.
Valene and Keith moved back to the fertile hills of northeast Iowa in 1997, relocating closer to family, two of her sons and the farm. She was the support person, bringing multi-course hot meals to the field during planting and harvest. She loved the smell of a recent rain on the newly plowed field and witnessing the changing season in the country, the first buds of spring and the autumn colors bringing much joy. We checked the progress of the corn growth each July 4th by having her pose for a picture in the cornfield south of the farm garage. As she was the shortest family member, her presence in that picture always made the crops look stellar.
Ever frugal in times of poverty or wealth, she cultivated her own beautiful vegetable garden and dabbled in perennials, worked diligently to fill the cabinets, storing the harvest with canned goods and preserves. She was particularly fond of hummingbirds and goldfinches, lilacs, and lily of the valley—all of which were viewed in her yard. She appreciated nature’s simple beauty.
Mom is lovingly remembered by her six children and their families; Linda (Gary) Hansen of Alton, Iowa, Lu Ann (Don) Hicks of Cody, Wyoming, Kevin (Kim) Lau of Elkader, Iowa, Kris Lau of rural Guttenberg, Iowa, Lisa (Paul) Haller of Minneapolis, MN and Kurt (Amy) Lau of Clive, Iowa. There are 10 grandchildren, Jeremy, Kelsey and Jenna Hansen, Adam and Grace Lau, Maggie and Ming Li Haller, Michael, Tommy and Elizabeth Lau and five step-grandchildren, Kylie (Wes) Hanson and Jeff, Zach, Wendy and Taylor Haller. She had one great-grandchild, Kassi Hanson. There are as well many other family members and friends whose lives will be a bit less full of love and sunshine now that she has died. Her diagnosis of cancer led to a short, brief illness where she was lovingly and gently cared for by her family at home until her death on May 26, 2014. When this last journey began five weeks ago she said, “I am almost 80 years old and I have lived a good and full life.” She lived love and was loved.
Arrangements were handled by Tuecke-Allyn Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Garnavillo, IA, where the family received friends from 4-7 p.m. Friday, May 30, 2014. Private services were held.