She was born March 2, 1913 in Worms, Neb., to the late Minna Mewes Dankert and Johannas (John) Dankert who were farmers. Thekla had a keen interest in education and started teaching in a one-room schoolhouse at the age of 21 near her home town of Chambers, Neb.
Thekla married William (Bill) McElvain on May 31, 1939 in Chambers, Neb. In 1941, they moved to San Francisco, Calif. From 1946 until 1993 the family resided in Ogden, Utah. Thekla continued to teach school in the Ogden City School District, raising three children and finishing her BS degree from Utah State University at Logan, Utah in 1955. Thekla retired from her teaching career in 1971 as a special education teacher.
Thekla and her husband, Bill, spent their retirement years alternating between Ogden, Utah, and Yuma, Ariz. They moved from Ogden to Ava, Mo., in 1993 to be closer to their son, Ross, and his growing family.
Thekla had an intellectual curiosity throughout her life and enjoyed reading. She was always recommending books and cutting out articles of interest that she had read. Thekla continued to educate and motivate her grandchildren by way of discontinued readers and textbooks she had saved through her teaching years. She readily spoke of Christ and encouraged her grandchildren in His teachings. She also took an active interest in healthy foods, herbs and oils, and was a fountain of information. Besides reading, Thekla’s hobbies included fiber crafts and card playing. She had an active curiosity about many things throughout her life.
Thekla was an active member of the Lutheran Church wherever she lived, and her belief and faith dictated the way she lived and conducted her life. She and her husband, Bill, celebrated 70 years of marriage in 2009 before he preceded her in death, at which time Thekla moved to Columbia, Md., to be near her daughter, Mary Segerson.
Survivors include her children and their spouses: Jerrold and Maureen McElvain of Chicago, Ill., Mary and David Segerson of Columbia, Md., and Ross and Beth McElvain of Ava, Mo.; Thekla’s 10 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; her brother, Victor Dankert, of Kansas City, Mo.; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by four brothers and one sister.
A visitation will be hosted at 10 a.m. on Sept. 8, at the Ava Family Funeral Home, 401 North Jefferson, Ava, followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. Burial will be at the Denny Cemetery on K Highway. In lieu of flowers, Thekla wishes a memorial donation to Trinity Lutheran Church at Highway 5 & NW 16th Ave, Ava, MO 65608, 417-683-5611 or 683-2885.
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