Dr. Harold Clay Hallberg, MD, 92 of Oelwein passed away on Monday, February 27, 2017 at Oelwein Care Center. Visitation will be on Friday, March 3, 2017 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Geilenfeld Funeral Home in Oelwein. Services will be on Saturday, March 4, 2017 at 10:30 am at Grace United Methodist Church, Oelwein, with Rev. Connie Markle officiating. Interment will be at “Doc’s runway” in Woodlawn Cemetery at Oelwein. Lunch will follow at the church. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established to go toward some of “Doc’s” favorite Oelwein charities. For condolences, please visit www.geilenfeldfh.com.
Harold (also known as "Hod" or "Doc") was born August 24, 1924 in Oelwein, Iowa, the son of Clay and Matha (Schlumbohm) Hallberg. He attended and graduated from the Oelwein School District. At the age of 9, Harold contracted the disease osteomyelitis, which was nearly fatal to young Harold and caused him to undergo years of treatments, difficult surgeries and blood transfusions at the University of Iowa. His left leg ceased growing at this age due to the disease, which is what caused Harold's need to wear his trademark "big shoe." It was because of Harold's many months of treatment at the University that he decided to go into the field of medicine himself.
Despite his “disability, “ Harold worked incredibly hard, often doing intense physically-demanding outdoor work like ditch-digging to put himself through college and med school at he University of Iowa, graduating in 1951. During med school, Harold met a pretty young nurse named Joan Marple. They were united in marriage in Sioux City, Iowa, on October 4, 1952. Together, Harold and Joan opened their hearts and home to four children, and eventually to multiple grandchildren and great grandchildren. Hod and Jo built a wonderful life together in Harold’s home town of Oelwein, where “Doc” opened and managed a successful family medical practice where he cared for the many people of his community for nearly 50 years. Harold was a true family physician, serving patients from birth (he delivered thousands of babies) to death and everywhere in between. He was also a general surgeon and prided himself in being meticulous—as with all things—in “sewing people up.” He was accessible to patients 24 hours a day with a phone call or a trip to Doc’s family home where one would often find him “taking a look at” folks in their car in the driveway or in the entryway of his house.
In addition to medicine, “Doc” enjoyed learning about new things and pursued leisure activities enthusiastically. “Hod” was known to read and study and pursue what interested him voraciously. Because he had not learned to swim as a child, he had a pool added to his family home so his wife could teach him to do so. This proved to be the center of the Hallberg home and life, where his children, grandchildren, (and many other loved ones) spent their summers. Harold taught himself to excel at woodworking and built a large workshop in his basement, where he’d spend hours “puttering.” Hod and Jo were very involved in the AFS program in Oelwein and hosted an exchange student from Germany in 1980-81, Eckart Wirthwein. This led to a life-long friendship that Doc enjoyed with the entire Wirthwein family; Doc enjoyed his many travels with Jo and the Wirthweins in Europe.
Above all other activities, though, Harold’s life love was that of aviation. He took his first flying lesson while in med school internship in Michigan, and his life was changed forever. He became a life-long avid aviation enthusiast, learning to fly and expanding his knowledge with multiple aircraft “ratings”; he also became a flight instructor and enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others. He owned and cherished his single and twin-engine planes and was frequently found on sunny days flying around the Oelwein area and enjoyed “tipping his wings” at those he saw and knew.
Harold was active in the Oelwein Airport Commission for many years as well as the NE Iowa Aviation Enthusiasts and Quiet Birdmen. He eventually became a member of the Civil Air Patrol in Naples, Florida where he and Joan enjoyed winters for many years. Harold was a member of Grace United Methodist Church, and the Hebron Masonic Temple of Oelwein.
Harold is survived by his four children: Christopher Hallberg of Oelwein, Clay Hallberg of Oelwein, Charles (Diana) Hallberg of Hiawatha and Heidi Hallberg (Chaun) DeJong of Marion, his German “son” Eckart (Andrea) Wirthwein Dautenheimer, 14 grandchildren (including step grandchildren, and AFS grandkids) Nicole Hallberg, Amanda Hallberg, Matt Hallberg, Amy (Jesus) Gonzalez, Cory (Miranda) Hallberg, Brian Hallberg, Tom (Kelly) Hallberg, Emily DeJong, Connor DeJong, Maddie DeJong, Casey (Beth) Kingdon, Chantel Keller, Lukas Dautenheimer and Lena Dautenheimer; and 12 great grandchildren; a sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Ed and Trudie Bigelow, and many cherished nieces, nephews and their children.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife Joan Marple Hallberg, his sister, Betty Davis and her husband, Jamie; and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Linda and Charles Marple.