Date of Death: 10-04-2019
Funeral Service : 11-02-2019
Claudia Louise Tospon, 73, of St. Joseph, Missouri, passed away after a long-fought battle with colon cancer on October 4th, 2019 with her children Hooker and Christine, and her granddaughter Lauren by her side.
She is preceded in death by her husband of nearly 50 years, Eugene Trace Heggestad, her parents, Dr. Hooker & Dorothy (Dale) Tospon of St. Joseph, Mo., and her sister Gloria Tospon Crouch of Lathrop, Mo.
Claudia was born November 28th, 1945, in St. Joseph, where she spent most of her childhood. She attended Noyes and Edison elementary schools and Central High School. During her senior year her family traveled to Vienna, Austria where she and her sister Gloria attended school while their father represented the American Osteopathic Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, exploring and teaching the newest surgical techniques. Her family often traveled throughout Europe, which she said was an education all in itself. In 1963, Claudia attended Gulf Park College in Gulf Port, Mississippi. She graduated in1965 and moved to Kansas City Missouri.
In1969, Claudia married Gene Heggestad – the love of her life, the man she knew she was going to marry the minute he walked into her 7th-grade classroom – after he returned from Vietnam. Gene returned from Vietnam on a Sunday, called Claudia on Monday, flew her to Des Moines on Wednesday, and they were married on Saturday in Lake Okoboji, Iowa. They would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary June 22, 2019.
Claudia and Gene loved to travel, across the U.S. and abroad. Rome and Rio de Janeiro were two of their favorite destinations. Claudia also loved their many trips to New Orleans and Las Vegas where her fashionable style – classy and glamorous, but never overdone – fit right in. It was not uncommon for passersby to think she was famous. Friends and loved ones could always count on smelling her fabulous “Galore” perfume, which everyone loved. It was truly her signature scent.
Claudia also loved the beach and took many trips to one of her favorite spots, Captiva Island in Florida. You could always find Claudia on the beach, in a chair nestled in the sand along the shoreline, with her Bain de Soleil tanning oil, her big round brown tortoise shell sunglasses, her fabulous jewelry sparkling in the sun and her favorite music by Al Jarreau playing softly. That was definitely her “happy place.”
Claudia loved to play tennis and bridge, and entertain and spend time with her friends. She had a love for decorating and a natural way with flowers. She spent many years as a floral designer and gift shop owner.
Most of all she loved being a mother. She was president of the PTA, Brownie Troop Leader, Cub Scout Den Mother and volunteered at her children’s schools on a regular basis. She was an amazing cook and hostess which made her home the “place to be” for both her children and all their friends. Claudia opened her home open to all, especially her kid’s friends, who always knew that at Claudia’s they could get some advice, a hot meal and a place to stay.
Her entertaining style was just as glamourous as her fashion. Whether hosting Gene’s business associates for a formal dinner party, or throwing a pool party for the kids, everything was done perfectly, and all guests were made to feel welcome. She was a member of the Wichita Junior League and managed the Leagues cookbook, the “Sun flower Sampler” for many years. Her famous Pumpkin Pie, Cheesecake, Potato Salad, Tuna Salad and Deviled Egg recipes were very well-known!
Over the years Claudia grew to have a love of cats. She rescued and saved so many, and did her part to help the ones she couldn’t give a home to herself. She truly believed that Paul McCartney quote “You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.”
In the later years of her life, Claudia decided to accept a new challenge and at the advice of her daughter started substitute teaching in the Park Hill School District. Much to her surprise she loved it. Not surprisingly, the students and teachers loved her. After a few years of commuting, she decided to go to work for the St. Joseph School District and quickly found her new home away from home. This decision would play a huge role in her life as it not only brought her joy to be with the kids each day, she quickly developed friendships with fellow teachers that would mean the world to her, especially after she was diagnosed with cancer. From mowing her yard, to delivering groceries, to transporting her to weekly cancer center and doctors’ visits, these ladies were a God-send. There until the end, their visits during her final weeks always brought a smile to her face, laughter to her heart. Claudia was blessed her entire life with amazing friendships, which was a testament to how much people loved being around her.
A remarkable wife, mother and friend, Claudia leaves us and our world has changed, but the love and memories she left behind will never fade.
Claudia is survived by her two children, Hooker Ashley Heggestad (Charity) of Lafayette, Colorado, and Dorothy Christine Heggestad of Leawood, Kansas, grandchildren Hank Weston Heggestad, Arwen Heggestad, Araya Heggestad, and Lauren Christine Salyer and sister Laverne Shell of Carmichael, California.
An informal family burial will take place on November 2nd at the Lathrop Cemetery in Lathrop, Missouri at 11 a.m., with a Celebration of Life Gathering following from 1-4 p.m. at Moila Country Club in St. Joseph, Missouri.