Clarabel L. VanNahmen, 88, a prominent dance instructor passed away peacefully on Friday, June 3, 2022 at Geary Community Hospital surrounded by family.
Clarabel was born May 10, 1934, in Deerfield, KS, during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl era to Smith Wellington and Mildred Laurene (Keeler) McMullen.
As a young girl, Clarabel moved with her family to Kinsley, KS. At the age of eleven, her father left to find work in Nebraska. With great sadness, he never returned. Clarabel graduated from Kinsley High School with the class of 1952.
On October 20, 1952, she married LeeRoy VanNahmen. LeeRoy farmed with his family near Offerle, KS. In 1955, LeeRoy was drafted into the United States Army. After his honorable separation and discharge from the Army, LeeRoy and Clarabel settled in Grandview Plaza, KS. At that time, LeeRoy entered the construction business. LeeRoy built the first dance studio for Clarabel in their home. Later, LeeRoy remodeled the vacant black smith shop on 6th Street. Clarabel was forced to move due to eminent domain. With determination, pride and hard work, LeeRoy and Clarabel bought and remodeled the Salvation Army Citadel Building where a dance studio was in full operation for many years. Throughout the years, Clarabel touched many lives teaching ballet, fundamental tap dance lessons and conducting countless recitals and performances. She worked very hard to stay ahead and always wanted the dance studio to be the very best. Her two favorite words were “love” and “determination”. Clarabel always wanted to do the best at what she could do and then pass it along to others.
Besides being a successful owner and operator of a dance studio, Clarabel enjoyed spending time with her family. She was a member of St. Xavier Catholic Church. She was also proud of her Scottish Heritage.
Survivors include one daughter, Cheryl Ibarra and her husband Ray of Junction City, KS; five grandchildren, Vanessa Vande Riet and her husband Rik, Kyle Ibarra and his wife Harmony, Clarissa Hanson and husband Harold, Chelsea Mendez and her husband Nick and Cierra VanNahmen; great-grandchildren, Madeline, Owen, Annabel Vande Riet, Aislynn McKay, Elliadora and Urijah Ibarra, Josephine and Elizabeth Hanson, Willow and Oakley Mendez; great-great grandchildren, Emmarie and Axel McKay.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband LeeRoy, one son, Curtis VanNahmen, two brothers, Kay and Mike McMullen; one sister, Anita McMullen.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place 10:00 a.m. Saturday, June 11, 2022, at St. Xavier Catholic Church with Fr. Gnanasekar Kulandai officiating. Burial will follow the service at St. Mary's Cemetery. A rosary will be prayed at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 10, 2022, at Johnson Funeral Home. A visitation will follow the rosary until 8:00 p.m. The family encourages family, friends and students to bring a picture with Clarabel to be placed on a memory board that will be displayed in the studio. Memorial contributions are suggested to be given to the Junction City Little Theatre.
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
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