Claus John Renken, Jr., 84, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, engineer, and ham radio enthusiast, checked in on the weather net for the final time on May 27, 2017. Each Friday evening for decades, John hosted ham radio enthusiasts on a world wide net, exchanging information about weather, crops, and life with friends spread across the thousands of miles, joined together by a love of technology and a curiosity about, well, everything.
John was a man of many passions, all enduring, but the most important was his devotion and love for Virginia, his wife of 61 years, who survives him. Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Stephen (Dianne) and sister-in-law Shirley Renken. John is survived by brother Tim Renken, and sisters Anne Marshall of Columbia, Missouri, and Elizabeth (Terry) Boone, St. Louis, Missouri. He is also survived by daughters Julie (Blake) Hurst of Tarkio, Missouri, and Laura Renken (Mark Lampe) of St. Louis, Missouri, and grandchildren Lee (Ryan) Harms of Westboro, Ann (Matt) Schlueter of Tarkio, and Ben (Kenzie) of Kansas City, Missouri. John had six great-grandchildren, Aaron, Lizzie, and Josh Schlueter, Gabe and Abbie Harms, and Levi Hurst.
John graduated from the University of Missouri with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering, served in the United States Navy, and began his professional career as a researcher in nuclear materials testing at the Argonne National Laboratories in the Chicago area. In 1970 the family returned to Jefferson City, Missouri, to be near their families and to pursue their dream of owning a farm. John worked as a television repairman and as a nuclear power specialist and auditor with the Missouri Public Service Commission. The couple eventually settled on farm near California, Missouri. John and Virginia planted an orchard on the farm, and for many years sold apples to loyal customers throughout central Missouri.
John was an accomplished musician, playing the clarinet and saxophone in orchestras, bands, and church groups for all of his life. He taught himself to play the violin in his seventies, and played the organ as well. He was always and everywhere surrounded by music.
He was also interested in astronomy, converting a former dairy barn on his farm to an observatory, a feature not often found on farms in Moniteau County. He was an avid gardener, loved raising cattle, and was devoted to soil conservation on his farm.
John was always busy with a project. Repairing barns, remodeling his and Virginia’s farm home, building fence, or designing a new and improved antenna to boost his radio reception all occupied his time and considerable energies. His projects always had several things in common: they paid little attention to style or to convention, but they were built to last. Through tornadoes, earthquakes, or any other imaginable catastrophe, natural or man-made, his family fully expects that the works of Johnny will survive.
John was sometimes wrong, but never in doubt. He was devoted to Virginia, caring for “Ginger” when time and age reversed their roles, and he was a faithful and loving husband, father, and grandfather. He had little use for babies, but infinite patience for children, especially curious children. He followed current events not at all, had no respect for any politician, and kept up with news in Germany and soap operas in Mexico in order to practice his German and his Spanish. He had a deep and abiding faith in God, of the Lutheran persuasion, and he has left us for a far better place. May he rest in peace.
Graveside services were held Tuesday, May 30, 2017, at Center Grove Cemetery, Westboro, conducted by Rev. Glenn Scott.
Memorials may be directed to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, California, Missouri, or Lake Area Community Orchestra, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
Online obituaries and condolences at Services were under the direction of Davis Funeral Home, Tarkio.