We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Heber Springs Funeral Home
Clara Faye (LaDuke) Penner, age 84, of Drasco, AR entered into the loving arms of our Lord on 2/2/22. She was born on June 30, 1937 in Wyandotte, MI to Alvin and Nora LaDuke, the oldest of eight children. She married James T. (“Jim”) Penner in 1957, together they were married for almost 48 years until Jim’s passing in 2005. Jim and Clara had seven children and raised their family in Trenton, MI until 1976 when they moved to Drasco, AR in the Ben Community from which the Penner family hailed.
Clara was a member of Drasco General Baptist Church and was part of the public school system since the early 1970’s. After moving to Arkansas, Clara became employed with Concord School District as a teacher’s aide, substitute teacher, computer lab instructor and later became gatekeeper for the Concord School Pirates’ home basketball games with extreme Concord pride. Clara then became a volunteer for the Foster Grandparent program, volunteering at Concord Elementary School in Concord, AR.
Being at Concord Elementary was Clara’s true “life purpose” as she helped thousands of children over the years and connected with them in her own individual way. She especially loved helping any child who had learning challenges or those that may have struggled with their schoolwork. She was adamant about helping them one-on-one in a way for them to reach their potential. In Clara’s words: “You have to have a purpose!” she would say, and being at Concord was Clara’s true purpose.
Clara enjoyed writing poetry and has written several poems and children’s stories. Her stories were so well liked that some of the teachers at Concord Elementary would read them to their classroom students. She loved “her kids” at Concord Elementary more than anything and beamed with pride any time she would speak about them. Getting a hug from any of the students was a true gift to her.
In addition to being a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan, Clara’s interests and hobbies include: playing the piano and keyboard. She learned to play by ear from the age of 4. Clara loved playing church hymns, songs from popular musicals, pop, country, polka, and Americana. She really enjoyed whistling happy tunes and singing karaoke with her musical family very much as music was a big part of Clara’s life. Clara and her family enjoyed playing the card game Euchre, playing Bingo, and she loved her scratch-offs. She enjoyed reading romance novels, crossword puzzles, Yahtzee, dice games, Words with Friends and Scrabble.
Clara is preceded in death by her parents, Alvin and Nora LaDuke; husband, James “Jim” Thomas Penner; granddaughter, Reanna Marie Reedy; grandson, Chad M. Kinsey; two brothers Charles (Brenda) LaDuke, and Michael (Barbara) LaDuke; two sisters, Karen (James) Pluff, and Nancy (Robert) Brimacombe.
She is survived by her seven children, Donna Gadberry of Mountain Home, AR, Kevin (Sally) Penner of Fort Wayne, IN, Carol (Ronald) Reedy of Vine Grove, KY, Judy (James Sanders) Jorden of Gassville, AR, Darin Penner of Mount Juliet, TN, Elizabeth (Rick) Cunningham of Gassville, AR, and Mitchell Penner of Gassville, AR; three siblings, Joseph (Jane) LaDuke of New Boston, MI, a sister, Marcia (Craig) Argabright of Minot, ND, and brother Steven (Dawn) LaDuke of Woodhaven, MI; 17 grandchildren; 31 great grandchildren; and 1 great-great grandchild.
Visitation is from 6:00pm - 8:00pm, Friday, February 11, 2022 at Heber Springs Funeral Home. The Funeral Service is at 2:00pm, Saturday, February 12, 2022 at Drasco General Baptist Church followed by the interment at Friendship Cemetery in Drasco, Arkansas.
Pallbearers are Gedde Dickerson, Aaron Gadberry, James “Jamie” Gadberry, Geoff Jorden, Jacob Penner, and Justin Penner,
Honorary pallbearers are Sammy Allen, Tommy Joe Chastain, Mark Cornett, Keith Cornett, Hunter Hartwick, Terry Sims, and Delvin Smith.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: Concord School District Library Fund, P.O. Box 10, Concord, AR 72523.
All books that are purchased will be marked in honor of Clara.