Clara Irene (Rhoads) Wise, 99 years of age, of Beatrice passed away Saturday, January 30, 2021. Clara, known by most as Irene, left us and went to join Ralph, who had been waiting for her. She was born on a farm a few miles north of Cozad. Irene was the youngest of the family, with two sisters and four brothers. The family left the farm and moved to Lexington for a short while then moved to a farm a few miles north of Callaway. With the Great Depression in full swing, the family struggled to make ends meet. Her mother died there in 1935 and shortly thereafter, her father and one brother went to Idaho. Irene, a sister and brother moved in to Callaway where she worked cleaning houses and at a bakery for very little money and whatever was left over from the bakery.
When she was 17, Irene met Ralph Wise and despite the chaperones (her brothers) they fell in love and were married November 16, 1939. A little over a year later, their first child Janice was born. The little family left for Wyoming where Ralph worked for the Union Pacific Railroad as a gang foreman. Money being short, Irene also worked for the railroad as a cook for the gangs. In 1943, their second child, Albert was born. The family stayed in Wyoming until 1944 when Irene contracted polio and they moved back to Nebraska where family could help take care of her and the children while Ralph began working in Pickrell as a Section Foreman. In 1948, their third child Charles was born.
The people of Pickrell welcomed them and they became involved with the EUB Church where Irene taught Sunday School and Bible School for many of the children in town and the surrounding farms and was secretary for the Ladies Aid Society. In 1958, the family had to leave Pickrell while Ralph worked in Weston and Callaway. Then the couple returned to Pickrell for good in late 1960. They picked up where they left off at the church with both having more than 60 years of service, community and fun.
In 1965, Irene began work as a clerk in the Pickrell post office and in 1980 became Postmaster until she retired in 1984. On her last day of work, she provided coffee and donuts to those who came into the post office. She said “I’ve had some awfully nice customers so I thought I’d do something nice for them.” After retirement, Ralph and Irene enjoyed tour bus trips to many parts of the United States, always making friends. She continued her passion for working the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, sometimes taking up to Wednesday or Thursday to complete it. She loved to read and liked and wrote poetry. She had a large collection of dolls, that although precious to her, she allowed grandkids to play with. She was also a fan of the Atlanta Braves baseball team.
Irene was a second mother to her children’s’ friends, who were always welcome in her home and also to her nieces and nephew who came and lived with her and Ralph for several unforgettable summers. There are many stories carried in the memories of these people.
Irene was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph; son, Albert “Bud”; son-in-law, Willard Waltke; parents, John Calvin Rhoads and Rosy Myrtle Sprague; brothers, George Leonard, John Lloyd, Floyd Chester, Guy Benjamin; and sisters, Verna Elnora Schnackenberg and husband Herman and Hazel Evelyn Lamp and husband Walter. She is survived by a daughter, Janice Waltke of Beatrice; daughter-in-law, Paulette Wise of Geneva; son, Charles and wife Becky of Omaha; six grandchildren; fourteen great grandchildren; ten great great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Private family services will be held at 11:00 AM Saturday, February 6, 2021 at Harman-Wright Mortuary in Beatrice with Chaplain Doug Delhay officiating. The service will be live streamed on the Harman-Wright Mortuary Facebook page. Public interment will be at 12:00 PM Saturday, February 6, 2021 at the Pleasantview Cemetery near Pickrell. Visitation will be held from noon to 8 PM Friday, February 5, 2021 at Harman-Wright Mortuary in Beatrice. Memorials are suggested to your local food bank or the Pickrell United Methodist Church in care of the mortuary. Harman-Wright Mortuary in Beatrice in charge of arrangements.
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