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Arlene June Grace Prater
June 8, 1938 - September 1, 2023
After spending her final day on this earth surrounded by family -- the room filled with laughter and love as her sons recounted stories of their mother -- Arlene June Grace Prater was called home to be with the Lord on September 1, 2023.
Arlene was born June 8, 1938, on the family farm outside Burlington Junction, Missouri, to Harvey and Mary (McIntyre) Grace. The beautiful baby girl was doted on by her four older brothers: Darrell, Donald, Weldon, and William.
Growing up on the farm, Arlene helped take care of the family's chickens and other animals. She also learned many skills from her mother that she would enjoy all of her life, like gardening, canning produce, cooking, sewing, and knitting. Her favorite moments, however, were spent riding her beloved white horse, Silver, a gift from her father.
While attending Burlington Junction High School, Arlene served as class treasurer and organized outings for the class of 1956, which included a handsome young man named John Prater. She was known for her beautiful singing voice and her cheerful smile.
Arlene studied art at Northwest Missouri State and put her horsemanship skills to good use there as a barrel racer on the college rodeo team.
She left her studies behind to marry that handsome, dark-eyed man, John Lewis Prater, on November 28, 1958. They eventually made their home in Hamburg, Iowa, and welcomed a daughter, Gena Grace, on January 5, 1960.
Although she didn't realize it at the time, Arlene instantly became a pioneer for parents of special needs children. She spent the next 50 years fighting for Gena, who was born with Down syndrome, to ensure she was treated justly.
On March 11, 1967, John and Arlene were blessed with a son, Jayson Lewis. A few years later, the Praters fulfilled a dream by moving to the farm just outside Hamburg where they would raise their family. Jerald Harvey was born on February 24, 1973, completing the family they loved so dearly.
Arlene cherished those days raising her children in the country, gardening together and helping John on the farm. They spent many summer weekends camping at Big Lake and Charity Lake with John's brothers and their families. She loved cheering on her children, from Jayson and Jerald's athletic and fine arts events to Gena's Special Olympics track meets. She was also an active member of the Hamburg United Methodist Church.
Once her children were mostly grown, Arlene worked several different jobs, including managing the Pizza Hut in Hamburg, sewing for Pendleton Woolen Mills, and putting her baking skills to good use in the kitchen at Grape Community Hospital in Hamburg, where her famous desserts became favorites among patients and staff.
Arlene and John welcomed Katrina (Crissler) into the family when she married Jerald in 1995 and Lisa (Foust) when she married Jayson in 1997. They treated both girls like daughters.
Arlene became Grandma Arlene when Jayson and Lisa welcomed Jakob in 2001, Lucas in 2003, and William in 2005. She was head-over-heels in love with her grandsons, and she and John made the trip to Milo, Iowa, as often as they could to visit them. Each boy also spent a week each summer at the farm in Hamburg. She knitted slippers, sewed pajama pants, and made countless fleece blankets for the boys, which served as little hugs from Grandma when she couldn't be there.
After losing John in 2008 and Gena in 2011, Arlene kept the Hamburg farm but moved to Melcher, Iowa, in 2014 to be closer to her grandsons. She never missed a baseball or football game, concert, play, or Scouting event after that, until her health began to fail due to Alzheimer's disease.
Arlene was preceded in death by her parents, Harvey and Mary Grace; brothers Darrell, Donald, and William Grace; husband, John Prater; and daughter, Gena Prater. She is survived by her sons and their families: Jayson, Lisa, Jakob, Lucas, and William Prater of Milo and Hamburg, Iowa; and Jerald and Katrina Prater of Kansas City, Missouri. She is also survived by her brother, Weldon Grace and family, of Des Moines, Iowa, numerous in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends, neighbors, and her beloved dog, Patty.
Friends and family are welcome to come share their favorite Arlene stories at a visitation at Rash-Gude Funeral Home in Hamburg, Iowa, on Thursday, September 7, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, September 8, at Hamburg United Methodist Church. Interment will follow at Mount Olive cemetery, where Arlene will be laid to rest between John and Gena, overlooking the farm where they spent so many happy years.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Arlene's name may be made to Hamburg Fire and Rescue or the Mount Olive Cemetery Association.