Karel

Karel Lea Willhoite Clemens, 78, of Eagle Nest, N.M., died on Dec. 15, 2017, of a recent illness after three weeks in intensive care and four weeks in hospice care in Albuquerque, N.M.

Born June 24, 1939, in Ada, Okla., Karel was the daughter of Frederick Willhoite and Laura Odetta (Sherrill) Willhoite. Growing up, Karel lived in numerous locations, mainly in Oklahoma, as her father pursued careers as a Baptist minister and a U.S. Air Force chaplain.

Karel graduated high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1957 and graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1961. She received a teaching certificate in July 1962 from the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

From 1966 to 1972, she was employed by the U.S. Air Force in Frankfurt, Germany. There she met the love of her life, Bert Clemens, creator of and broadcaster on Rhein-Main Today, the world’s smallest TV station at the time. With monthly trips to Rome, the couple could have written an even more romantic version of the 1953 movie “Roman Holiday.”

Karel was married to Bert in 1971 by her father at Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Oklahoma. The ceremony included the couple’s theme song, “Up, Up and Away,” as sung by the 5th Dimension.

In 1972, the couple moved to the Washington, D.C., area. They were both employed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and enjoyed weekends on their boat at Occoquan Marina on the Potomac River.

Escaping the civil service to become business owners, Karel and Bert purchased Laguna Vista Lodge in Eagle Nest in 1979. They continuously expanded, remodeled, and upgraded the hotel and historic restaurant and saloon. Their hard work paid off, for the resort is now a five-star boutique lodging destination, the saloon is ranked in the top 15 of the Southwest, and the resort is recognized as a New Mexico landmark.

Karel’s passions, in addition to her husband, included reading, woodworking, flowers, cooking and piano concerts in the resort’s Piano Bar(n). Renowned for her ready smile and kindness toward all, Karel was devoted to family, staff, and friends all over the world. She truly will be missed.

In addition to her beloved husband Bert of 47 years, Karel is survived by a stepdaughter, Yvonne Clemens Cullipher (Jeff), New Bern, N.C.; a step-granddaughter, Jennifer Danielle Kolb (Matt) of Charleston, S.C.; a step-grandson, Cameron Kolb of New Bern; three nephews—Michael Willhoite (Terri) of San Antonio, Steven Willhoite (Autumn) of San Antonio, and Donald Willhoite of Dallas; three nieces—Katherine Willhoite (Rodd Zolkos) of Chicago, Laura Stebbins (John) of Shoreline, Wash., and Ann McKinstry (Mark) of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and six grandnieces and six grandnephews.

Two brothers—Fred H. Willhoite, Jr., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Dr. David Willhoite of San Antonio, Texas—preceded Karel in death.

Bert and Karel’s extended family through unofficial adoptions by Karel: Steve Sandoval (Kaycee) of Cimarron, N.M.; Elayna Mitchell (Jared) of Dallas; Jacqueline Soares of Frederick, Md.; Marla Anderson of Eagle Nest; Sally Rucker (Dan) of Black Lake, N.M.; Micki Wedel (Mickey) of Eagle Nest; Sue Bean (John) of Eagle Nest; and the deceased Rochelle Boyce and Melissa Farrell, both of Eagle Nest.

A celebration of the life of Karel Clemens will start at 2:00 p.m. on June 16, 2018, at Laguna Vista Lodge, Historic Restaurant & Saloon in Eagle Nest. The celebration will be as big as the wonderful time the couple had together all over Europe and with DEA in Washington, D.C., and the jubilations of 39 years in New Mexico.

Memorial gifts may be donated to the Eagle Nest Fire Department and Eagle Nest Library, address to Eagle Nest Village Hall, Attn: EN Fire Department or EN Library, PO Box 168, Eagle Nest, NM  87718. Online condolences may be left at the guest book at www.lagunavistalodge.com/Karel/

37 Responses to “Karel”

  1. Joe Kraman January 30, 2018 at 9:02 am #

    Bert,

    My Sincere Condolences. Having known the two of you for a short time,
    Karel was your best friend an wife for a long time.

    My heart goes out to you my friend.

    Joe

    • Sue January 31, 2018 at 6:23 am #

      Thank you for your support. Bert

  2. Agnes & Scott Gibson January 30, 2018 at 9:38 am #

    With deep sympathy to Bert and the family during this time of sorrow. Karel made many contributions that live on to the betterment of our country and community. She is and will be deeply missed.
    Agnes & Scott

    • Sue January 31, 2018 at 6:24 am #

      Thank you for your love and support. Bert

    • Bert February 2, 2018 at 3:03 pm #

      Thank you for you love, comfort and support

  3. Janet Sailor January 30, 2018 at 10:02 am #

    Knowing you was a pleasure, Karel. Rest in peace.

    • Bert January 31, 2018 at 6:25 am #

      Thank you for you love and support

  4. Sally Rucker January 30, 2018 at 10:33 am #

    I had the privilege of meeting Bert and Karel Clemens over 20 years ago. After working in the Saloon, as a bartender, Karel took me under her wing and introduced me to the kitchen of their restaurant, teaching me the recipes she had put together, and how to cook for the numerous visitors to the Moreno Valley and the guests at the La Guna vista Lodge. I will never forget her kind, gentle manner. She will always be in my heart and memories. I will miss you Karel.

    • Bert January 31, 2018 at 6:25 am #

      Thank you for your love and support

  5. Susan Hamilton Dick January 30, 2018 at 11:03 am #

    Bert:

    I am so sorry to hear this news. I had not idea you were going through this. Please know that my prayers are with you.

    Susan

    • Bert January 31, 2018 at 6:25 am #

      Thank you for your love and support

  6. Anne Earle Olson January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    I am so sorry . Karel was a lovely person. She will be missed.
    I wii keep in my prayers and memories
    Anne

  7. Bert January 31, 2018 at 6:26 am #

    Thank you for your love and support

  8. Tommy & Mary Sangster January 31, 2018 at 8:58 am #

    We are so glad we got to know Karel. She was a very special lady and will be missed.

    • Bert February 2, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

      Thank you for your support

  9. Nita Jones January 31, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

    Bert,

    My heart still breaks for yours – What a wonderful write up describing your life together. You are truly blessed to have so many wonderful memories. She was definitely your soulmate.

    Please let me know if there is anything we can do for you and may ‘His” Peace continue to surround you in the coming weeks and months ahead and comfort you in the way that only He can do!

    Blessings,
    Nita

    • Bert February 2, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

      Thank you for your love and support

  10. Ed Linderman January 31, 2018 at 1:18 pm #

    Burt: May God’s grace be with you, your family, and friends. Linda and I will keep you in our prayers.

    Ed

    • Bert February 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

      Thank you for your support

  11. Jerry Harrell January 31, 2018 at 2:18 pm #

    I wanted to express my condolences at Karel’s passing. I know Bert will miss her terribly.

    • Bert February 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

      Thank you for your support

  12. Tom & Gail Martin February 1, 2018 at 9:51 am #

    Bert,
    Please accept our condolences from Clovis. Wonderful lady and she will be missed.

    • Sue February 9, 2018 at 10:08 am #

      Thank you for your support. Bert

  13. Frank Belichick February 1, 2018 at 5:19 pm #

    Losing your life partner is the ultimate heartbreaker. I mourn with you as I laughed with you both on our “wacking in the weeds” golf tournament double date.The thermos of Martinis assured our loss.Memories live forever,just like friendships. Why did I never get adopted?

    • Sue February 9, 2018 at 10:08 am #

      Thank you for your memory, Bert

  14. John and Ann Fleetwood February 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm #

    We will always have fond memories of Karel. Meeting you both at Ann and Mark’s wedding, having fun watching the magic show, lunch with the family at the fancy table in the hotel and attending the piano concert in the Piano Bar{n} to name a few. Oops, almost forgot the worm eating contests!

    We look forward to attending Karel life celebration in June.

    Love, John and Ann

  15. Bert February 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

    Thank you for your support

  16. Don Parkhurst February 3, 2018 at 7:22 pm #

    We lost a Sweetheart in Karel’s passing. She was always kind, considerate, and friendly to everyone. I first met Bert and Karel when they arrived in D.C. in 1972. We worked together at DEA, were neighbors, boating buddies, and good friends. Most nights and weekends would find Bert, Karel, Elwood, Joan, Gene, Dot, Chief, Ethel, me, and others at the Hoffmaster’s Occoquan Marina, or cruising on the river. Karel was the gracious host, making sure we were having fun, but that Bert and I didn’t have too much fun. I moved to GA and they moved to NM, but we were able to stay in tough. I visited them several times, most recently last September. Karel was always a special person and an Angel, and now she has her own set of Wings. My sincere condolences to Bert, Family and Friends. I look forward to seeing everyone on June 16, when we Celebrate Karel’s Life.

    With Love,
    Don

    • Sue February 9, 2018 at 10:09 am #

      Thank you for the memories. Bert

  17. Guy and Marcia Wood February 5, 2018 at 1:08 pm #

    Dear Bert,

    What a beautiful tribute to Karel, the love of your life for 47 years. Your business partner. Your playmate and best friend. You both made Eagle Nest and the Moreno Valley a better place to live. Thank you.

    Big hugs.
    Guy and Marcia

    • Sue February 9, 2018 at 10:09 am #

      Thank you for your love and support. Bert

  18. Beverley Byrd February 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm #

    Bert, I was shocked and saddened to hear of Karel’s passing. She was my college pal and I will never forget her. BEV

    • Sue February 9, 2018 at 10:10 am #

      Thank you for your love and support. Bert

  19. Wendi Conway May 24, 2018 at 8:13 pm #

    Sending continued love and prayers…Karel would be so proud of the beautiful, loving tribute you’ve penned in her honor… May she rest in eternal peace..

  20. Shelly wallace May 25, 2018 at 12:24 am #

    I eas heartbroken to hear of Karels passing.I will never forget the caring and support you both gave to me when I worked for you in the 80s.(84-85?) She was such a kind and caring person.You two were truley soulmates.Im so sorry for your loss Bert.

  21. Linda and Corky May 30, 2018 at 9:38 am #

    Karel will be missed by everyone that knew her. We knew that spring had arrived when all the beautiful flowers were on display along the boardwalk. God bless the family.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Obituary: Karel Clemens | Sangre de Cristo Chronicle - May 24, 2018

    […] Memorial gifts may be donated to the Eagle Nest Fire Department and Eagle Nest Library, address to Eagle Nest Village Hall, Attn: EN Fire Department or EN Library, PO Box 168, Eagle Nest, NM  87718. Online condolences may be left at the guest book at http://www.lagunavistalodge.com/Karel. […]

Leave a Reply