Clara Melendez Christiansen passed away peacefully on October 24th, surrounded by her family. Clara was born on February 9, 1933, in San Antonio, Texas to Reverend Dr. Andres and Nieves Melendez. After living in Laredo, Texas during WWII, the family moved to St. Louis where Clara’s father worked first as a translator for Concordia Publishing House and then as the speaker of the Spanish Lutheran Hour radio program.
In St. Louis, Clara attended Lutheran schools, including Lutheran High School. Upon graduation, she took classes at nearby Washington University and worked as a secretary, and she became a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. But her days of living in St. Louis were drawing to a close, because she met a seminary student at a Walther League gathering. At the time, Herman Christiansen was a student at Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Illinois, but he would spend his summers in St. Louis, working as a typesetter at Concordia Publishing House.
Clara and Herman were married on August 8, 1959, at Hope Lutheran Church, St. Louis, Missouri. Their marriage would be blessed with three daughters: Linda, Lisa, and Lori. Pastoral ministry would take them to Aurora, IL, Plainfield, IL, Lebanon, MO, Auburn Heights, MI, Hoyleton, IL, and Elgin, IL. During those busy years of being a pastor’s wife and a mother, plus being actively involved in the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Clara had a side gig as a professional babysitter. Being the people person that she was, Clara was especially good at helping Herman remember the names of his congregation members. Finally, Clara and Herman’s journey brought them to Kansas City, Missouri, where they lived in retirement at Bishop Spencer Place.
Clara was preceded in death by husband, Herman Christiansen, sister, Nora and brother Joseph Melendez, and sister Sylvia Rowader. She is survived by her brother Andrew Melendez, two nephews and one niece; daughters, Linda (Jim) Dunn, Lisa (Jim) Williams, and Lori (Mark) Siekmann, as well as grandchildren Philip (Rachel) Dunn, Taylor (Giulia) Dunn, Ryan Dunn, Joseph (Bethany) Siekmann, Hannah Siekmann, and five great grandchildren.
Visitation is from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. with the service to follow at Immanuel Lutheran Church at 4205 Tracy, Kanas City, MO 64110. After the service, the family will gather at the graveside at Memorial Park Cemetery where she will be buried next to Herman. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 5326, Kansas City, MO 64131.