For Clarence Monke, 93, there was no place greater in this world than his farm. It was on the farm where he was born, grew up, raised a family of his own, and built a successful operation. On the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, Clarence passed away exactly where he wanted to -- on the farm he held so dear.
A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, at Our Redeemers Lutheran Church in New England, with Rev. Bruce Peterson officiating. A prayer service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, at Ladbury Funeral Service in Dickinson, with visitation beginning at 11 a.m. He will be buried at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 at 12 p.m., MT. Military honors will follow the funeral and be provided by the New England American Legion Anton Ulijohn Post 66.
Clarence Theodore Monke was born to Louis and Marie (Schmidt) Monke on July 30, 1920. He grew up on his familys farm north of Regent and east of New England, just down the road from farms that belonged to his uncles and the country school he attended. He went on to graduate from Regent High School and briefly attended Dickinson State Teachers College prior to World War II.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1942 and served in the Third Armored Division, also known as the "Spearhead."
Clarence was a proud veteran and spoke often of his experiences during the war, the friends he made and lost along the way and the battles he was a part of. He held several duties, from supply clerk to tank operator, and earned expert marksmanship honors. He was awarded five bronze stars for his involvement in five major European battles, including the Battle of the Bulge, and the invasion of Normandy in the aftermath of D-Day. He was honorably discharged in October 1945 and returned home to take over the family farm with his father and brother, Vernon.
Before leaving for the war, he met the love of his life, Irene Lutz. They corresponded throughout the war via letters and were married one year after his discharge on Oct. 3, 1946. They settled on the farm where they raised their two children, Leon and Marlene. As their healths deteriorated, Clarence made it his mission to take care of Irene. He did so until his last day and cared for her more than anything in the world.
Following Vernons death in 1959, Clarence took sole control of the farm and expanded it over time. He farmed with Leon throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s, growing the operation together before he "unofficially" retired in 2000. Clarence nonetheless remained active on the farm, mowing the yard, tooling around in his shed and barn, running to town for parts and meals, and, later in life, taking care of his cats. A true farmer, he continued to scale quonsets and bins during harvest until he was 90.
Clarence and Irene spent their springs, summers and early falls on the farm but were snowbirds in the winter. They owned a home in Phoenix at the base of Squaw Peak from 1968 to 1998 and enjoyed spending the winters there with Marlene and her husband, Ron. They returned to the farm for good in the early 2000s, spending most of their days together in the house overlooking the farm and the land that surrounded it.
Aside from farming, Clarence enjoyed photography, traveling, caring for his small collection of vintage vehicles and picking up the check for family and friends who were often invited to eat with him and Irene, particularly at the Elks, Perkins and the New England bowling alley.
Clarence was preceded in death by his parents, his daughter, Marlene Mazzeo; his brother, Vernon; and sister, Edryne.
He is survived by his son, Leon (Kitty) Monke, Regent; three grandsons, Scott (Laurie) Monke, New England; Jason (Jesse) Monke, Delano, Minn.; and Dustin (fiance Sarah Bennett) Monke, Dickinson; four great-grandchildren, Aiden, Megan, Halyn and McKenna Monke; his cousin and lifelong friend, Mildred Monke, Dickinson; his son-in-law, Ron Mazzeo, Mesa, Ariz., and his brother-in-law Marvin (Stella) Lutz, Rapid City, S.D., along with numerous extended family and friends who held him dear.
Arrangements are with Ladbury Funeral Service, Dickinson. www.ladburyfuneralservice.com