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Joan Carol (Kramar) Tengelsen



Joan Carol (Kramar) Tengelsen (Mom T) finished her valiant race with grace on the morning of January 16, 2024. Sadly, dementia robbed her of her intellectual brilliance and wit these past few years, but her toughness never wavered as she made it to 96!

The true meaning of her life was defined by her endless love and generosity for her husband of 52 years, Dr. Clifford Tengelsen, her daughters Leslie and Jana, and most of all for her grandson, Jake Dost, whom she loved dearly. She was born on August 20, 1927, in Huntington, Long Island to John P. and Karin (Edstrom) Kramar and grew up at 238 Spring Rd, the former site of J.P. Kramar Monuments.

Joan was an adventurous soul, who became the first women to solo a yellow piper cub on Long Island, NY and after graduating from the State University of New York at New Paltz, she spent time exploring the Swiss Alps while attending the University of Innsbruck, Austria. After college, she moved back to Huntington, Long Island where she fell in love with Clifford Lawrence Tengelsen. She married Cliff on November 21,1953 and supported him through medical school by teaching. After Cliff graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where Cliff was beginning his internship at Grand Rapids Osteopathic Hospital. Soon Joan was active with the Grand Rapids Osteopathic Hospital Guild, spending countless hours volunteering in the community. After a short time, they moved from Grand Rapids, MI to Ada, MI where many adventures were had, and wonderful memories were made. From neighborhood gatherings, luncheons with the ladies, and holidays spent with close family friends; her time spent in Ada filled her with joy. When Joan and Cliff moved to their beautiful home on 42 acres in Ada, Joan’s love of cooking and gardening took off. She was a talented cook who loved to entertain. Her annual Easter brunch is where her famous Easter egg ice cream cake was born and will live on in the hearts of many. Her love of fine china will also live on for those of us that had to carefully hand wash it. Joan gardened on a grand scale. Over the years her vegetable gardens, red raspberry patch, and lovely flower beds gave her and others much happiness. She was a voracious reader, talented seamstress, and loved to dabble in painting. Her love of animals and the outdoors led to many hours spent in the barn with the horses and at horse shows watching her daughters compete. She unknowingly won the grand prize for the number of horse shows she attended, the horse blankets she stitched back together, and the tack shops she patiently spent hours in. Time was also spent caring for a menagerie of dogs, cats, and goats; this included various Labrador puppies that seemed to make their way to her from Jana. She even added a llama to her animal collection, having won him at a fiber fair. For a time, Joan and Cliff opened their property to neglected and abused horses, rescuing many from their tragic situations. Joan loved nature and spent many hours outdoors; she often walked or rode her little green tractor through the woods on their property. Joan loved to explore green houses and filled her pots with beautiful flowers in the spring. Weather permitting, she could be found on her deck with a book in hand watching the birds at the feeder and horses in the field.

Cliff and Joan never shied away from adventure and made many more memories when Cliff joined the Air Force as a flight surgeon, moving first to Edwards AFB in California and then RAF Alconbury in England. From witnessing the first space shuttle landing to living in a haunted manor house in Buckden, England, she cherished those memories long after returning to Ada. After Cliff’s unexpected passing in 2005, Joan first moved to live near her daughter Jana and family in Parker, Colorado. As her care needs increased and the altitude could no longer be tolerated, she moved to Boise, Idaho to be near her other daughter, Leslie.

She is survived by her daughters Leslie Ann Tengelsen (Leo Hennessy) and Jana Maria (John) Dost and her beloved grandson, Jake Dost. She is preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Clifford Lawrence Tengelsen (2005) and her sister Karin Ruth (Kramar) Eldredge (2014).

She will be buried in a private service at Findlay Cemetery, 2 Mile Rd, Ada, Michigan with Rev. Paul Krupinski officiating. A celebration of life will be held at Egypt Valley Country Club from 2:30 pm – 5:00pm on February 9th, 2024. Friends of the family are encouraged to join them at Egypt Valley Country Club.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to an animal rescue organization of your choice.

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2 Responses

  1. This was a lovely tribute to your mom. She loved you all so very much and she was truly an awesome wife, mother, and friend. We are all blessed to have been part of her extended family. Love,

  2. I’m so sorry for your Loss, I always enjoyed listening to your Mom tell me stories of her adventurous life. She was so kind and Loving to me, I miss her. God Bless all of you.

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Make a Contribution

Memorial Contribution

Donations can be made to an animal rescue organization of your choice