HOUGHTON - Clara Kjarsten (Nelson) Fedewa, 91, died on May 4, 2012 at Omega House in Houghton after a short illness.
She was born January 5, 1921 in Livermore, Humboldt County, Iowa, the daughter of Magnus and Alfia (Johnson) Nelson. At age four she moved with her family to a farm outside Selkirk, near West Branch, Michigan. She has resided at The Bluffs in Houghton for the past six years.
Clara was predeceased by her husband, Richard; three brothers: Nels (Pat), Lindberg (Nancy), and Hilding (Peg) Nelson; and one sister, Hulda (William) Griffith. She was also predeceased by a brother-in-law, Bud Rogers.
She is survived by one sister, Gloria (Leonard) Foster of Grand Blanc, and one brother, Magnus (Elva) Nelson of West Branch. Clara is also survived by one daughter, Deborah Fedewa (Jack Jobst) of Houghton; a grandaughter, Eugenia Jobst of Houghton; and two step-grandchildren: Debra (Rajeev) Bhalla of Milpitas, California; John (Elizabeth) Jobst of Oakland, California; and two, step great-grandchildren: Ryan and Maya Bhalla; as well as numerous great, great-great, and great-great-great nieces and nephews.
In her childhood, Clara graduated from the one-room O'Neil school before moving at age thirteen to nearby West Branch so that she could attend high school. She lived with families for room and board and worked at local restaurants for spending money. She was a maid in the Heigel House, where she waited on Hollywood's famous Warner Brothers, who visited the area for hunting trips. She often commented that they were big tippers, which was appreciated during those Depression years. Clara graduated with the class of 1939. Clara continued to show her strong work ethic when she moved to Saginaw and lived with a family as a mother's helper while attending cosmetology school. A year later, when World War II began, she became a "Rosie the Riveter," working as a quality-control inspector for several munitions plants. After the war, while completing her training in cosmetology, she married Richard "Dick" Fedewa, a returning soldier, and talked him into attending barber college. Clara became the co-owner, then owner of the Avenue Beauty Salon in downtown Saginaw. Thirty years later the couple moved to Henderson Lake and opened in nearby Skidway Lake the Fedewa Barber and Beauty Shop, from which they retired in 1984. Clara and her husband celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in 1997.
After her husband's death in 1998, Clara remained in West Branch until health issues required a move to Houghton, near her daughter and family. She was a member of St. Ignatius Catholic church. Previously, she had been a member of St. Helen's parish in Saginaw, and St. Joseph's in West Branch.
Funeral services will be held at St. Joseph's church with burial next to her husband. Arrangements are being handled by Steuernol and McLaren Funeral Home of West Branch.
A memorial service at The Bluffs will be held at a later date.
Contributions in Clara's name may be made to Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly; Omega House; or a charity of one's choice.