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OBIT: Judith “Judy” Jane Hilgendorf

This news story was published on December 15, 2018.
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Judy Hilgendorf, an English teacher and creative writing enthusiast, left the task of sharing her life story to those who loved her most, her family.

Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, December 17, 2018, at First Congregational Church, 923 Buddy Holly Pl, Clear Lake, with Pastor Harlan Seri officiating. Burial will be at Clear Lake Cemetery in Clear Lake.

Visitation will be from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Sunday, December 16, 2018, at Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, 101 N. 4th St., Clear Lake and an hour prior to the service at the church.

Please wear a touch of gold sparkle to celebrate Judy.

An annual “Why I Love Clear Lake” creative writing essay contest will be established in Judy’s name. Please direct memorials to her family, 212 12th Ave. S., Clear Lake, IA 50428.

Judy was a lover of life, a life-long learner, a fashionista, a real estate agent, a teacher, a world traveler and a one-of-a kind gem, spreading her zest for life everywhere she went.
Judith Jane Hilgendorf was born on November 4, 1946 in Charles City, IA, to Lyle Witzel and Wilma Teeple Witzel. Proud of growing up on the family farm outside of Rudd, she enjoyed spending time at her Grandpa Wilbur and Grandma Christine’s farmhouse, riding horses with her cousins, and attending country school. She graduated from Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock High School and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa.

On the night Judy met her husband-to-be, in true Judy fashion, she gave her suitor a fake name, requiring Jim to do some investigative work to earn a first date. Marrying on May 6, 1972 at the Rudd United Methodist Church, a 46-year long love story ensued. They made their home on the Cedar River in Charles City, then Mason City, and have enjoyed the last 23 years on the water in Clear Lake. Whether they were at the Leaf Watchers Convention on the Mississippi, “Dancing in the Moonlight” on their pontoon boat or working side-by-side on their real estate and home building business, they did it together.

Judy led by example and taught her children, Darcy and David, and her many students, valuable life lessons.
• Life is a three-letter word, ASK
• Live the Golden Rule
• Carpe Diem
• Love God with ALL your HEART

Judy’s talent of creative writing played a role in one of her favorite hobbies, entering essay contents. Through the years, her writing earned over 20 grand prizes — a gold convertible, trips to the Ellen Show, the NCAA Final Four, and Super Bowl 50 – just to name a few.

For Judy, every occasion was always an opportunity to celebrate people and life. From hosting the annual Hilgendorf Family Sauerkraut Party to participating in events like the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake’s 4th of July festivities, and Christmas by the Lake, she added her own special flair, creating lasting memories for all those who loved her.

Two peas in a pod, her grandson Hudson was her traveling partner, lead pinwheel spinner, and her greatest pride and joy. All of Judy’s best qualities will live on forever through him.

While Judy always sparkled on the outside – with an impeccable sense of style, an impressive high heel collection and an outfit for every occasion – it was her heart of gold and unique ability to make everyone feel special that truly touched all those who knew her.


Judy is survived by her husband, Jim Hilgendorf of Clear Lake; two children, Darcy (Darian) Hala of Eden Prairie, MN and David (fiancé, Taline) Hilgendorf of Dripping Springs, TX; grandson, Hudson Hala; two sisters, Diane Witzel of Eagan, MN and Roberta (Alan) Russell of Boise, ID; brother-in-law, Bill Hilgendorf, Lake Tahoe, NV; nephew, Jared LaBounty (Michelle), great nephew, Sam LaBounty; and niece, Adrienne Russell.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister-in-law Mary Hilgendorf.

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