Clara Belle King, 91, formerly of West Salem

Clara Belle King, 91, born March 24, 1930 in Wayne County IL passed away September 19, 2021 in her sleep at home in Las Vegas. She is survived by her six children, Carolyn (Stephen) Jacobs of Las Vegas NV, Shirley (Stan) Mann of Ellery IL, Robert (Katy) King of Round Mountain TX, Linda King, Mark (Sophia) King of Wheaton IL and Sally Vella of Mt Carmel IL.

Surviving family include: grandchildren Jake (Melissa) Mann of Columbia TN, James (Megan) Mann of Tijeras NM, Heather Mann of Johnson City TN, Matt (Meaghan) King of Houston TX, Andy King of Minneapolis MN, Tony Vella of Clearwater FL and Alexander King of Carol Stream IL and 11 great grandchildren.

She is preceded in death by husband of 67 years, Harold King, and grandson John Mann.

Clara was born during the depression the seventh child of nine children to Nora Briley Garris and Elmer Garris in Wayne County. Clara’s love of reading and education began in the one-room schoolhouse she attended where she learned to read at the age of five. Clara married Harold King, lived in West Salem and raised their family of six children. Clara was a 4-H Leader for seven years, joined the Garden Club, volunteered in setting up the new library in West Salem, and volunteered for other village events. A band member in high school, Clara encouraged her children to play instruments and join the band in grade school and high school. Both Clara and Harold loved history and the family took many trips across the country to national parks and historical sites.

Eighteen years after graduating high school in Albion IL, Clara enrolled in junior college at the new Olney Central College in 1967 as one of only two ‘considered older’ students. She was an inspiration for many other women to attend the junior college to achieve higher education and a featured writer for the college newspaper. After attaining her Associate Degree, she attended Oakland City College IN and earned her Bachelor in Science Degree, plus attended the

University of Evansville IN for her Master of Arts Degree. Clara began her career as a teacher in remedial reading and special education. After the family moved to the Chicago suburbs in the early 1970’s, a fond memory of Clara’s was when talking to a bank manager in Carol Stream IL, he recognized Clara and announced to his staff that ‘this was the lady who taught me to read’.

In retirement, Clara and Harold traveled in a RV throughout the US visiting their family. A memorial is planned for the family in Southern Illinois in the spring.