Clara Marie Eschenbaum, age 90, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, January 4th, 2023, of a heart attack in Casa Grande, AZ. She was born on May 23, 1932, daughter of the late Clarence and Zadia Backman.
Clara is survived by her daughter Nancy Ellen Bertsch of Casa Grande, AZ and stepdaughter Jane Heying (Lee) of Winner, SD; many grandchildren and great grandchildren; brother Andrew Backman and sister Patricia Jonason; and a large family of nieces, nephews and cousins from across the country but primarily located in the Midwest. Clara was preceded in death by her parents; husband Melvin Eschenbaum; daughter Cindy Marie Carter; grandson Nathan Lee Stager; brothers Darryl Backman, Doyle Backman, and Evan Backman; and sisters Arlene Chase, Bonnie Bostwick, and Connie Gubbels.
Born on the farm in Maskell, NE, Clara grew up with a country lifestyle. She attended country school and ultimately attended Ponca, NE high school where she graduated in 1949. She married her first husband, and they gave birth to Cindy and Nancy. After their birth she attended school in Sioux Falls, SD where she became an X-ray and lab technician. She practiced in that field for over 45 years, retiring from her career in Winner, SD as Department Director. She spent many years with husband Melvin Eschenbaum, traveling via RV, visiting nearly all the contiguous United States. After the death of husband, Melvin Eschenbaum, Clara remained in Winner, SD and spent time traveling to visit family and local friends. In 2021, Clara joined her Arizona family in Casa Grande and continued to live independently until she passed. After her move to Arizona, she was known as “Clara on the Patio” as she drank coffee and socialized with all her new neighbors. Continuous highlights of her life included the biannual Backman family reunion as well as the annual Bass family reunion. Not only were these a highlight of her life, but she was a staple of them. If anyone needed anything, she was the first to offer it out of the RV. She was an avid card player with friends in Winner and the new friends she made in Arizona. She had a great fondness for her pets Lady the Poodle and Susie the Cat.
A celebration of life will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in Maskell, NE on January 14th, 2023, with viewing at 9am and services to follow at 10am. We will have a short memorial service, time for sharing your stories of Clara, and fellowship after.
The family would like to thank Banner Casa Grande Medical Center Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit and the physicians and nursing staff treating her during her time there. They'd also like to thank the community of Rancho Val Vista where she made many friends during her year and a half in Casa Grande, AZ. Her final day of life was filled with the presence of loved ones. She was alert, coherent, and joyful as she shared many stories with her visitors, and in her words on that day, her “many friends.”
J. Warren Funeral Services are handling arrangements.