Clara Topinka, age 97, died peacefully at home on February 1, 2021. Clara was born on August 29, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois to William and Minnie (Knapp) Radke. She was the second of four siblings and grew up in Chicago during the Great Depression.
After graduating from high school, she worked at the University of Chicago. There she met her husband, Robert Topinka, who was undergoing education and training before heading to the South Pacific for duty in the U.S. Navy. Clara and Bob were married in 1945; their marriage lasted nearly 70 years. Bob passed away in 2015.
Clara and Bob were partners in raising seven children: Frank Topinka (Deb); John Topinka (Conchita) of Memphis, Tennessee; Mary Stetter (Bill) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Ralph Topinka (Jo Bernhardt) of Evansville, Wisconsin; Anne Topinka of La Crosse, Joe Topinka (Danielle Freudenthal) of Fort Mills, South Carolina; and Karen Topinka, of Madison, Wisconsin. Clara’s brother, Chuck Radke, continues to live in La Grange, Illinois.
Clara worked many years in local business, and, together with Bob, owned a retail store. Besides working, Clara loved to read, cook and bake. Her children fondly remember the bread and cinnamon rolls she baked each week. Clara was also a prolific knitter and made lots of clothes for her beloved grandchildren. After she retired, Clara volunteered at St. Francis hospital for more than 30 years, “retiring” from that job at the tender age of 96, earning a U.S. presidential volunteer award in the process. Clara loved her family, especially her grandchildren (Lauren, Elise, Alyssa, Grace, Liz, Stephen, Sarah, David, Emily, Katie, Rob, and Jackie) and her great-grandchildren (Abigail, Clare, Christopher, Josie, Otto, Bambos, Marios, Dinos, Violet, George, Lily and Ben).
Besides her husband Bob, her son Frank and her great-grandchild Bambos, and her two sisters passed away before she did.
A Memorial Mass will be held at 10:00 AM on Monday, February 8, 2021, in St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, 530 Main St., La Crosse. Msgr. Robert Hundt will officiate with inurnment to be held in the St. Francis of Assissi Mausoleum in Catholic Cemetery. Family and friends may visit from 9:00 AM until the time of Mass at Church on Monday. The Mass can be livestreamed at www.cathedralsjworkman.org.