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In Memoria –
Ruthe Marie (Clemmensen) Brocker passed away on August 3, 2021.
Ruthe was born April 1, 1926 to Anna and P.C. Clemmensen of Atlantic, Iowa. Along with her older brother, Paul, she spent her formative years on West 14th Street in a comfortable home adjacent to Sunnyside Park. Despite the challenges brought on by the Depression, Ruthe enjoyed a loving, supportive home and spiritual life. A lifelong member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, she was baptized, confirmed, and married at the original Eighth Street Building; her parents, children and grandchildren all enjoyed the services and fellowship of the new church on East 13th Street.
Thanks to a brilliant mind and academic discipline, Ruthe would receive a full tuition scholarship to attend Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Remarkably, she began her studies in the chemistry department where she was the only woman. In 1946 young women were not always made welcome in the sciences, but she boldly pursued her studies, often at the consternation of her male colleagues.
It was this tenacity and extraordinary personal charm that would have first gotten the attention of a returning World War II veteran by the name of Eugene Brocker. We are told that they would have first met at a Pi Phi sorority mixer; a year later, on a hot afternoon in August of 1949, they were married in St Paul’s surrounded by their families and many friends.
That fall while Brock finished his business degree, Ruthe returned to Atlantic where she first took a teaching position in the nearby community of Lewis, and then later in the spring transferred to one in Harlan. Once reunited, the Brocker’s would take up residence in Anita where they soon purchased what was to become Town & Country Insurance.
Thanks to their hard work and enthusiasm for their new community, the insurance business began to grow. That fall Ruthe happily accepted a position with Anita Public Schools. Soon the family began to multiply with the birth of a daughter Kristen in 1952 and Kirk a year later. Sadly, Kristen would pass away in 1954. A second son, Kyle was born in March of 1956.
Now an active, full-time mother, Ruthe cared for her family’s needs while embracing her new community. Still active members of St. Paul’s in Atlantic, she also began volunteer work with the local Women’s VFW, the Anita Public Library, and as a leader and future officer of the local PEO chapter. Gardening, tutoring and managing the busy household at 309 Locust filled her days and provided some of her happiest memories.
While helping with the expanding family business, Ruthe gave birth to a daughter Kerry in 1960 and a son Kevin in 1966. By this time, Ruthe and Brock were discovering the joys of travel. Throughout the remainder of her life Ruthe loved her international adventures including trips to Greece, Russia, Denmark, England, Panama, the Caribbean, as well as most of the western and northern United States. A fair angler and anxious flyer, Ruthe always made for a great travelling companion.
With her usual energy and passion Ruthe would return to the classroom and a new building in 1977. Along with her teaching assignments in the English department, she was also a respected faculty sponsor of the school newspaper - the Spy – as well as a coach/judge for both forensic and journalist contests. For many years you would find Ruthe attending a Friday athletic event only to be out the door early on Saturday to take a car load of students to a contest somewhere in Iowa. Honored by the Iowa High School Speech Association, the National Forensic League, and the Newspaper Association of Iowa, Ruthe helped build on a level of excellence that Anita has always enjoyed.
With her children now grown, Ruthe maintained her already busy schedule by taking leadership positions with PEO, as well as two new passions – The Danish Immigrant Museum and The Browning Society. Driving the thirty miles to Elk Horn with her closest friend, Rhoda Kelloway, they would contribute to the museum as administrative assistants and docents. Thanks to her passion and knowledge of literature, Ruthe became a frequent contributor to the Browning literary society. One of her favorite subjects was the Nebraska born author, Willa Cather, a person to who Ruthe devoted much time and energy during her Master’s program.
The old man smiled. 'I shall not die of a cold, my son. I shall die of having lived.”
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop
And then there was bridge; there was always time for bridge. A game she first learned in college would remain a lifetime passion. Highly skilled and fearless, Ruthe loved playing with her local club, as well those couples and personal friends who found their way to 2303 Hilltop, the Brocker’s family home from 1980 to 2018.
It was in the fall of 2019 that Ruthe and Brock moved to an assisted living facility in Waukee, Iowa. After his passing in July of 2020, Ruthe moved into a smaller more personal operation, the Gardens at Legacy Point where she remained until July 20, 2021. Ruthe’s health began to fail shortly after a fall that fractured her hip. She passed away under the kind care of the staff at the Kavanagh House in east Des Moines.
Ruthe Marie Brocker was known as a gracious and intelligent woman, a good friend and a loving mother. As her literary mentor, Willa Cather once remarked, “The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor.” Although Ruthe never showed much interest in either position, there is no question that she would have brought her considerable talents to these or any situation she chose. We love and cherish her memory. One of her favorite poets reminds us:
The world is not conclusion.
A sequel stands beyond -
Invisible as music -
As positive as sound
Ruthe is survived by sons, Kirk (Pam) Brocker of Ankeny, Iowa, Kyle (Karen) Brocker of Napa, California, Kevin (Jill Rydl) Brocker of Polk City, Iowa, and daughter, Kerry (Collin) Hulse of Parkville, Missouri; grandchildren, Celia, Claire, and Halley Brocker and Brenda (Sean) Sullins; and great-grandchildren, Sophia and Landon.
She is preceded in death by her parents, P.C. and Anna Clemmensen and her brother, Paul.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, August 11, 2021, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Atlantic. The funeral service will be recorded and available at www.rolandfuneralservice.com by noon on Thursday. A private family burial will be held at the Evergreen Cemetery in Anita.
Visitation with the family will be held prior to the service at the church, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
In light of the current situation the family would appreciate face coverings and social distancing be observed.
Memorials may be directed to the family for later designation to the Brocker Family Trust to provide a future scholarship.
Roland Funeral Service is caring for Ruthe’s family and her arrangements. Condolences may be left at www.rolandfuneralservice.com.