Arlene Laughlin

    Arlene J. “Jake” Laughlin, 86, of West Des Moines, Iowa died in a tragic car accident on Sept. 20, 2011. She was born in Clear Lake on June 25, 1925, to Henry Jacobson and Vernetta Hanson Jacobson.
    A Funeral Mass was held Saturday, Sept. 24, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with burial at Glendale Cemetery. Contributions may be made to St. Theresa’s Foundation, Iowa Public Television, or the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Online condolences may be left for the family at

    Jake loved growing up in Clear Lake and was proud of her Norwegian heritage. She graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1943, where she met the love of her life, Thomas J. “Jerry” Laughlin. Jerry’s motto was, “Jake at the Lake at Eight.” Jake’s passion for music and singing led her to Mason City Junior College and Iowa State University. It was wartime and the era of Big Band music. The Surf Ballroom was the place that ignited Jake’s and Jerry’s dance through life. Jerry and Jake dated for three years. Jerry served as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After graduating from the University of Iowa, Jerry said, “Jake, it’s time to get married!” Jake and Jerry were married for 42 wonderful years and had four children, the youngest of whom died shortly after birth.
    Jerry’s long career with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company resulted in moving multiple times all around the state of Iowa. With each new location they made lifelong friendships which they have cherished through the years.
    Jake partnered with Jerry in his final two years with the telephone company as a regional vice-president of the Telephone Pioneers of America. They enjoyed traveling the United States in this role. Jerry died unexpectedly in 1990.
    Several years later, Jake married Frank Gleeson, a fellow parishioner of St. Theresa’s Church. They were married for six years. They enjoyed traveling and golf. Frank died in 2004.
    Jake was known for her style, grace, warmth and generosity. She was a fabulous cook and her recipes will live on forever. She was renowned for her entertaining, her passion for needlework, and her love of antiques. Above all, her greatest loves were her family and friends. She was a member of the Questors and St. Theresa’s Parish and Rosary Society. She was a volunteer with the Terrace Hill Society for many years.
    Jake moved to The Lodge of Ashworth in West Des Moines in the spring of 2010 and quickly found herself right at home, surrounded by new and dear friends. She was a vibrant and active part of the community. Jake’s zest and love for life will be greatly missed by all.
    Jake is survived by her brother, James of Cedar Falls, Iowa; her children, Jerry R. (Anne) Laughlin of Champaign, Ill., Kassie A. (Patrick) Spellman of Des Moines, and Mark P. (Lynn) Laughlin of Ada, Mich.; her 11 grandchildren who called her “Grammie Jake,” Brian (Kathy) Laughlin, Scott Laughlin, Tom Laughlin, Sean (Courtney) Spellman, Meaghan (Tyler) Tigges, Robert Spellman, Molly Spellman, Patrick Spellman, Jr., Tory (Jake) Wielhouwer, Amy (Spencer) Williams, Brienn (J.J.) Darr, and her great-grandchildren, Riley, Walker, Maggie, Stephanie, and Tessa; and many nieces and nephews.
    She was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years, Jerry Laughlin; husband, Frank Gleeson; her parents; brothers, Donald D. Jacobson and Robert “Bob” A. Jacobson; and her daughter, Jamie A. Laughlin.
    Arrangements were by Iles Funeral Homes - Westover Chapel, Des Moines.

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