Pat Chettinger

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After a life on this earth as well-lived as any life could possibly be, Pat Chettinger went to be with Jesus on March 2, 2023, passing away at the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City after her second hard-fought bout with cancer. She was 72 years of age when she left us, but it was a very young 72. In fact, she could have easily passed for more than a decade younger than she was and her light was still shining very brightly among us, making her going so soon just that much harder to bear.

Visitation was Tuesday, March 7, at Morris Funeral Home in Guttenberg.

Funeral services were Wednesday, March 8, in the same St. John’s Church in Garber, where she was married more than half a century earlier.

Burial was at Mt. Harmony Cemetery located right across the road from the farm near Garber, where she grew up.

Patricia Ann Handke was born on Feb. 6, 1951, at Manchester, Iowa, the third of the eight children belonging to Clarence and Lillian Phelps Handke. Pat, as she was known to everyone her entire life, graduated from Ed-Co High School in the spring of 1969 and shortly thereafter on the 7th day of June, in a match that was just meant to be, she was married to the light and the love of her life, Layton Chettinger, at St. John’s Church in Garber.

They farmed on the Chettinger home place near Garber for the first fifteen years of their marriage before setting out in 1984 on a new adventure in the state of Oklahoma, where they remained until 2008 when they moved to Canyon, Texas, to be nearer their son and his family. It was during this period of her life that Pat was employed for a number of years as a secretary for District 1 of Beaver County, Oklahoma, and then later after they moved to Canyon as a secretary at the school there.

It was in 2016 that the call of family once again prevailed, and, after an absence of 32 years, they returned to their native Iowa to take care of Pat’s mother, buying a home on West Watson Street in Garnavillo where they remained living for the rest of her life.

Her favorite pastimes in her later years included teaching Christian yoga, leading the singing at her church, and doing crossword puzzles. She also enjoyed going fishing with her husband, Layton, not so much because she actually liked fishing, but just because, in her own words, she liked spending time with her best friend. She was also well known for the always immaculate condition of her home, cleanliness being right up there next to godliness as far as she was concerned. 

Throughout her entire life, Pat Chettinger was a naturally likable, out-going individual who easily made a connection to strangers, and was just the kindest soul that you would ever want to meet. She just wanted everyone to get along, and always strived to see the best in people.

Faith and family were the two things that mattered most to her above all else in this life and she was all-in always in her devotion to them both. Not surprisingly, then, being a woman of unwavering Christian faith who tried very hard to live by the New Testament teachings of Jesus and did her absolute best to abide by the golden rule, Church was, indeed, a very important place for her throughout her adult life, and she was always a very active member of the various congregations that she belonged to through the years. It might be added here that, whether in church or not, she just loved to lift up her vibrant voice to joyfully sing the Lord’s praises.

Another thing that she just loved to do was share hugs with people, but, then, being so warm and friendly anyway, giving out heartfelt hugs just came naturally to her. In fact, she could hug it out with the best of them, and, boy, what we wouldn’t give right now to be the recipient of one of those very heartfelt hugs that she was always so eager to bestow.

Something else that came naturally to her was her unfailing empathy for those who had suffered a grievous loss, instinctively understanding that what grieving people actually need more than anything else is just for someone with a kind heart to hold their hand and help them cry, which is why, even now, as we struggle to deal with her heartbreaking loss, she remains with us in spirit, comforting our grief with her boundless compassion and surrounding us with her immeasurable love.

Those now experiencing the joy of being reunited with this genuinely wonderful human being who freely shared her lovely light with the world for all of the 72 years that she had upon this earth include her parents, Clarence and Lillian Handke, her sister, Pam Tuecke, her in-laws, Luva and Lamar Chettinger, her brother-in-law, Clark Chettinger, her sister-in-law, Sharon Straus, and Sharon’s husband, Harvey.

Those left to cherish her matchless memory include the light of her life and the rock of her world, her husband, Layton, who was beside her every step of the way throughout both of her valiant bouts with cancer; the apple of her eye forever, her son, Jeremy, and his dear wife, Shelly; the pride and joy of her existence and the stars of her universe, her three wonderful grandchildren, Xander, Samuel, and Lena; her siblings and their spouses, Linda and Dennis Gardner, Roger and Margaret Handke, Kathy and Scott Stewart, Peggy and Clyde Wagner, Gary and Penny Handke, Clarence and Joan Handke; her brother-in-law, Don Tuecke; and a host of friends and other relatives all of whom were privileged to have had their lives graced by her shining presence.

She was, indeed, the brightest light among us for sure, but now her sparkling radiance is gone from our lives, leaving the world of those who loved her most a much darker place. But just as the Lord tempers the wind to the lamb that is shorn, the sadness of her loss too soon will eventually give way to the joy of the matchless memories she has left us, matchless memories that cannot help but make us smile, and, smiling at the thought of her, our world will be made bright again.

The family of Pat Chettinger would like to thank all those in the medical community who provided her with the utmost in compassionate care in their unflagging effort to keep her with us as long as possible and also all of the many wonderful people in this world who surrounded us with so much love and support during this very difficult time. May God bless each and every one of you.

Memorials may be sent to Morris Funeral Home (in care of the deceased) 207 S. First St., Guttenberg, IA 52052.

More information is available at www.morrisfuneralhomes.

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