Lorene Conner, 91, of Jefferson

Funeral services for Lorene Conner, 91, of Jefferson, were held Tuesday, May 29, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Jefferson.

Interment was at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery in Lidderdale.

Lorene Marion Kruse was born on September 9, 1926, on the Kruse farm near Lidderdale in Grant Township, Carroll County. She grew up during the Great Depression on the family farm. She attended a one-room school house and then Immanuel Lutheran School with her siblings in Lidderdale. She graduated from Carroll High School. She then attended and graduated from St. Anthony’s School of Nursing in Carroll in 1948, as did her sister Doris, six years later.

She wed Robert E. Simpson on September 16, 1948. To this union eight children were born. Bob attended Iowa State Teachers College (University of Northern Iowa) on the GI Bill after serving in the US Navy during World War Two. After graduation his first teaching job took the young family to Dunbar. Robert taught several subjects including science, biology, drivers ed and coached girls’ high school basketball. Jean and Jill were the young team mascots. The family also resided in Clemens, Wall Lake, New Hampton and Storm Lake. Lorene worked as a RN in each town.

The family moved to Storm Lake when Bob accepted a position with the DOT as a safety consultant, serving in NW Iowa. This enabled Lorene to stay home with the children. A year and a half later Bob tragically passed away. Six children were still at home and Lorene returned to nursing as a Buena Vista County public health nurse.

Lorene and Jim Conner, a widower, eventually became reacquainted, having grown up on farms near each other, as did Robert. They married on July 27, 1974, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Storm Lake. Lorene and her three young children, Jeri, Jaye and Judy, joined Jim on the farm north of Jefferson. Combined with Jim’s children, they had 10 children between them. To this union there were many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved spending time on the farm. Many family meals are fondly remembered. Lorene was an excellent cook and took in stride the large gatherings. She also sewed for her young children and grandchildren.

During her lifetime , Lorene found time for many activities and causes. She always had ties to the Lutheran Camp Okoboji – winning an essay contest to attend the first week when it opened and returning many years as a camp nurse, always with children or grandchildren who weren’t old enough to be campers. She also sewed for her young children and grandchildren. Lorene was active in Greene County Democrats, Trees Forever, Garden Club, Community Betterment and AFS. She served on the St. Anthony School of Nursing color guard, attending fellow graduates’ funerals, including the funeral of her sister Doris. The farm family hosted an exchange student from Sweden, Anna Tegler.

Lorene returned to nursing part-time at New Hope Village in Carroll after the children had left home. She also worked as a RN in Arizona when they stopped farming and Jim managed a combine crew. Lorene loved to travel and visited many of the US states.

She had visited her mother Marie’s home state of Missouri since she was a young girl. Her extended family spoke German and young Lorene could understand the language by the time they left back for home in Carroll County. She traveled to Europe twice, once in the ‘70s as a leader with her daughter JoAn and the Storm Lake Girl Scout troop and later with Jim, in the ‘80s, to visit daughter Judy, a high school exchange student in Linkoping, Sweden. Jim was on the West Central Co-op board and they took several co-op related trips. They also visited Jaye in Okinawa, Hawaii, while he was serving on a submarine in the US Navy.

Lorene loved composing poetry and was published many years up until last year in the annual Lyrical Iowa poetry book. She encouraged her children, grandchildren and others to write and submit poetry.

Lorene struggled at the end of her life with neuropathy. She was cared for in her home by her devoted son Jaye, as she had wanted. She continued to be mentally sharp, reading the Des Moines Register and completing the NY Times crossword daily (in ink!) until writing became difficult and her eyesight failed. She stayed current on political and world news. She enjoyed phone calls from family and friends, conversing with all of us on any topic. She kept up-to-date on politics and world events.

She was preceded in death by her infant daughter Kerry Lou; her first husband, Robert Simpson; her second husband, James Conner; her parents Charles and Marie (Hahne) Kruse; her four older brothers, Lawrence, Raymond, Harold and Elmer Kruse; her younger sister, Doris Grade; two sons-in-law, Dave Griffiths of Des Moines and Robert Stevenson of Decorah; a niece, nephews and a sister-in-law.

Survivors include daughters and sons, Jean (Tom) Thompson of Postville, Jill (Richard) Lockey of Janesville, Joel Simpson of Charleston, IL, JoAn Stevenson of Decorah, Jeri Griffiths of Des Moines, Jaye Conner of Jefferson, Judy (Mark) Obermeier of Edwardsville, IL, Steve Conner of Concordia, KS, Nancy O’Rourke of Carroll, and Jeff (Robin) Conner of Panora; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews; sisters-in-law, Norma (Harold) and Leta (Raymond) Kruse of Carroll; and a brother-in-law Lou Grade of Carroll.

Lorene was baptized, confirmed and married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lidderdale and will be interred in the Immanuel Lutheran cemetery.

The family is assisted by Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home of Jefferson.


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