Lee Edward Van Cleave, son of James Edward Van Cleave and Fairy Rose Marie Clark Van Cleave, was born March 14, 1929, on his parents’ farm near Yale, Iowa, and died May 9, 2017, at the Dallas County Hospital in Perry, Iowa. Lee was 88 years, 1 month and 25 days old.
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 13 at the First United Methodist Church in Perry. The Rev. Paul Burrow conducted the services. Mr. Dennis Morgan played and sang the hymns “Peace in the Valley” and “Amazing Grace.”
Lee’s casket bearers were Sunni Lee, Mike Van Cleave, Mitchell Van Cleave, Richard Kipp, Trent Andrews and Bruce Terrell. The church ushers were Joe Royer and Gene Dorman. Lee’s burial was at Prairie Center Cemetery near Linden.
Lee graduated from Panora High School in 1947.
He married Frances Jean Bennink in August 1948. They were blessed with almost 69 years of marriage. Lee and Frances were parents of three children, Bonnie, Tom and Tim.
Lee worked as a hired hand for a short time after their marriage and then rented 80 acres south of Bagley. Their next venture was to Carmen Kempf’s farm for seven years.
They farmed the Carl Shaffer ground for 42 years.
They bought a farm nearby and then purchased another 80 acres. Lee and Frances were a team, not only in marriage, but working on their farms. In addition to raising corn and beans, they raised hogs and finished out calves, and the chickens were Frances’ project.
Life on the farm created many wonderful memories for his children and grandchildren.
Lee and Frances were able to travel to Europe and spend winters in Mexico, Texas and Arizona, always making new friends.
They made many more friends in their square dancing club and enjoyed dancing together for 25 to 30 years. That group regularly camped in their campers in various locations and enjoyed meals and fun together, including yard darts and mopeds!
In 1994 they built their new home, and their family enjoyed it as much as Lee and Frances.
In 1996 Lee retired from actively farming, and in 2007 he suffered a very severe stroke. He miraculously survived and with the loving support of Frances and his family, as well as great determination, he forged forward.
Lee was a caring man who loved his family greatly. His large extended family was always special to him, and he loved and cared for his mother.
Lee was a member of the Prairie Center Church for many years before transferring his membership to the First United Methodist Church in Perry.
He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Fairy; his parents-in-law, Arthur and Jeanette Bennink; his precious sons, Tom and Tim; his sisters, Delores Helle, and husband, LeRoy, Barbara Kipp, Roberta Russell, and husband, Jack; and brother-in-law, Warren Bennink, and wife, Kathryn.
Lee’s memory will be forever cherished by his wife, Frances; daughter, Bonnie Van Cleave of Bagley; his loving grandchildren, who will miss him very much as well as his butterscotch discs and gum, Sunni Lee of Bagley, Jim Van Cleave of Springfield, Mo., Mike Van Cleave, and wife, Jessica, of Fair Grove, Mo.; great-grandchildren, Angel Bunn, Mary Lee, Mitchell Van Cleave and Lee Van Cleave. Other survivors include his brother-in-law, Richard Kipp of Yale.
Memorials in Lee’s name can be sent to Hastings Funeral Home, 1417 Second St., Perry, IA 50220.