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Clara Lysaker

Oct. 20, 1916-May 8, 2008

Clara E. Lysaker, 91, of Detroit Lakes, died Thursday, May 8, 2008 at St. Mary's Innovis Health in Detroit Lakes.

Clara Elizabeth Tomhave was born to John and Ella (Vagts) Tomhave on Oct. 20, 1916 in Florence Township, Goodhue County, near Red Wing, Minn. She was the couple's 12th child. Clara was baptized at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Frontenac, Minn., on Nov. 19, 1916. As a young girl, she moved with her family to Hager City, Wis., where she helped on the family farm and in a country store, plus cleaning and ironing for neighbors.

Clara married Clarence Swenberg on March 27, 1937 in Mitchell, S.D. They moved to Dundas, Minn., prior to moving to Detroit Lakes in 1944. In Detroit Lakes, Clarence managed Lampert Lumber Company. He preceded Clara in death, in April 1963.

In March 1957, Clara was hired to manage Fashion City, a ladies clothing store in Detroit Lakes, a position she held for 18 and a half years. She continued in management at the Pamida fashion department for an additional 12 and a half years. Clara married Odin Lysaker on Oct. 10, 1984 in Detroit Lakes. He died in 1985.

When her children were in school, Clara was active in P.T.A. and instrumental in getting the Detroit Lakes Marching Band their first summer uniforms, as well as raising funds to send them on trips to Chicago and Winnipeg by selling Gold Medal Cake Mixes. When she retired from Pamida, Clara started making the "fresh flower" arrangements for St. Mary's Hospital Auxiliary. She also worked for 10 years as a Senior Companion, retiring in 2003.

Clara was named the Outstanding Senior Citizen for Becker County in 1999. She had also been active at First Lutheran Church on many committees, in circle, and on the altar guild committee for over 50 years.

Clara's interests included sewing, ceramics, bowling and baking which she shared with her family and friends. She especially loved spending many hours in her flower garden. The most important part of Clara's life was her church and her wonderful family. They both kept her busy with baptisms, confirmations, graduations, wedding anniversaries and trips -- including two to Europe with the church choir.

Surviving Clara are her daughter, Sue Swenberg (Gene Zurn) of Shoreview, Minn.; son, Dr. James (Sandy) Swenberg of Pittsboro, N.C.; two stepsons, Peter (Judy) Lysaker of White Earth and Tom (Alice) Lysaker of Andover, Minn.; three grandchildren; five step grandchildren; five great grandchildren; two brothers, Walter (Alice) Tomhave of Austin, Minn., and Alfred (Dorothea) Tomhave of Red Wing, Minn.; as well as many nieces and nephews.

In addition to her husbands, Clara was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Debbie Rondeau; great grandson, Tony Rondeau; her parents; six brothers and five sisters.

Memorial services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, May 22 at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, with the Rev. Wade Dutton officiating. There will be visitation for one hour prior to the start of services. Interment will be in the United Methodist Memorial Garden in Detroit Lakes.

Memorials are preferred sent to the First Lutheran Church of Detroit Lakes or the Emmanuel Community Senior Companion Program in Detroit Lakes. The David-Donehower Funeral Home ( in Detroit Lakes is assisting the family.