Camilla LaChapell

March 1922 – November 2011

Camilla LaChapell passed from this life to her eternal life in Heaven on November 22 in Turlock at the age of 89. Her health had been failing due to congestive heart failure and a recent fall resulting in a broken hip.

Camilla was born in Kansas. As a young teen, her family left the “Dust Bowl” of Kansas and moved to California. After completing high school and Business College, she began her career as a bookkeeper. During World War II, she became a civilian employee at Castle Air Force Base in Atwater, CA. It was there that she met the love of her life, Frank LaChapell. After their marriage, they were transferred to other Army Air Corp bases until the war ended in 1945. With the war over, they settled in Turlock to raise their family and begin their careers. Camilla had a long career as a bookkeeper for several companies in Turlock until her retirement in 1985.

Camilla will be remembered for her devotion to the Lord and to her family. As a long-time member of the Evangelical Free Church, she was active in Sunday school activities and the support of missionaries in Latin America. Her goal in life was to influence her friends and family with the message of the Gospel so they would enjoy the rewards of a Christian life and the eternal life that she is experiencing today. She will be honored as a loving wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, and great grandmother. Her family all shares fond memories of times with her and husband, Frank, who preceded her in death in 2004.

She is survived by her children Frank (Bev) LaChapell of San Ramon, Mark (Linda) LaChapell of Turlock, Ryan (Pam) LaChapell of Modesto and Elise (Chuck) Kleiber of Turlock; siblings Wilma (Vernon) Carson, Dorothy Cooksey, Gerald (Betty) Thiessen and Doris (Fran) Pike; 13 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. Camilla is preceded in death by her husband Frank LaChapell, infant son Tucson LaChapell and brother Elmer Thiessen.

Memorial contributions can be made in her memory to Turlock Gospel Mission, P.O. Box 1231, Turlock, CA 95381-1231. Viewing will be at Allen Mortuary on Thursday, December 1, 2011 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Funeral will be held at Allen Mortuary on Friday, December 2, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. Please share your memories at


  1. Such fond memories of Aunt Camilla and Uncle Frank. They always welcomed the big Pike family into their home. We will miss you. God bless all the family as you remember all your memories of these dear people. Love you cousins and someday we do need to
    get together. Sorry we couldn’t make the service but we were in Arizona on vacation and just couldn’t get it to work out.

  2. Aunt Camilla will be greatly missed in our family. She was the one who brought my grandma Wilma Carson to Jesus. Through her prayers, faith and love my family became Christians. When I think of my relationship with God I think of Aunt Camilla and can’t
    help but be thankful and grateful to her for sharing her faith. My family is blessed because of her faithfulness. When I was a kid we would often visit Aunt Camilla in Turlock. I loved to visit her and Uncle Frank. Her home was always so cozy and comfortable
    and there were usually animals to see in the pastures in the back. One funny visit I remember was when I was in High School and I was raising a Guide Dog for the Blind and brought the puppy into her house. She kept shaking her head for that whole visit because,
    “animals belong outside.” She didn’t kick me out but was so relieved when we got up to go. 🙂 I know Aunt Camilla is with Jesus now, but we will miss her.

  3. Grandma, you were my hero. You were always there for me when I needed you most, and I know I’m only one of many. Your strength, love, and faith were unsurpassed. You never shrank from debate, and were always honest in your assessments. I remember the time
    back in the 90’s when you told me you knew what REAL grunge was! You used to tell me that I was stubborn as a mule, and I think I may have you to thank for at least a little of that tenacity! I know it was a very necessary quality in the world you grew up
    in, and it still is today. I think of you often, living as I do in the Midwest. I see flickers of you in the spring storms, and remember you telling me of your close encounter with a tornado. I think of you when I see the darkness of my garden soil. You told
    me that you could always tell when the dust storms came from Missouri, because they were dark. I draw upon your strength when I’m faced with a difficult chore and I question my abilities. I know what you would do: exactly what *must* be done, no matter the
    difficulty. I remember the spunk and pride in your voice when you would tell us that you were “the Matriarch!” I will miss seeing your fingers flying deftly over the keys as you play an old gospel tune. Those hands were rarely idle. I am glad you’re through
    suffering, and that you’re with Grandpa again finally, but I just can’t wrap my head around a world without you in it yet. I want to take this chance to thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me what true integrity is. I love you always

  4. I was so lucky to grow up next to you and Uncle Frank. I had such wonderful memories with you both. I loved listening to you and my dad “talk” to each other. True Thiessen spirit. You always laughed and loved. Give Uncle Frank and Shannon hugs from me.

  5. It expands my mind beyond its limits when I attempt to comprehend the tremendous ripple effect of my beloved mother-in-law’s life upon the world around her. Mom was a devoted and passionate follower of Jesus Christ, compelled by His love and His power
    to share the only escape from the consequences of our sinful lives. When the Spirit of the Living God opened her eyes to His grace-filled plan of salvation for mankind He set her free to tell others of God’s love and grace. Her deep gratitude toward the Lord
    never waned and she never grew weary of doing good. Her thankfulness for His saving grace propelled her into a life that revolved around God’s Word and His heart for the lost. Consequently, the Gospel was never far from her lips. She and Dad shined Christ’s
    Light for the entire family to see. My husband, Ryan, and our children were greatly impacted, as was the entire family. I praise God for the passion for Him that He ignited in their hearts. The last couple of years I made steady calls to her, prompted by a
    large note over my desk that says “Mom”. When I would announce who I was, she would say, I know who you are” or “I recognized your voice.” The words, “I guess I’m just lazy” and “I love you too, honey” were spoken on virtually every call. I would tell her
    all the good things that were happening in the family and she would say, “That’s good. That’s real good.” I hope I will always remember her voice as clearly as I do now. On her last night confined to her feeble body, her mind was clear again and she was aware
    of our presence. She interacted with us and even humored her grandson, Chris, responding with “OK, boss” to his instructions to continue to eat as well as she had that night. As she sat in her wheelchair I read one of her favorite passages in the Bible to
    her; John 14:1-4. She seemed to absorb the living words like a sponge, permitting it to bathe her weary soul. Her eyes seemed to be fixed on the Savior’s face as she concentrated on this wonderful promise, her heart beating as one with His. Then the nurses
    came to help her back into bed. I returned to check on her one last time and found her blissfully asleep, with her brow smoothed and untroubled. Her lips were murmuring something off and on, and as hard as I tried I could not hear the whispered words. Perhaps
    they were meant for God’s ears alone. Perhaps she was telling the Lord that she was ready. I will treasure the memories of dear Camilla, and particularly the memory of our last night together this side of Heaven’s Gate. I know I will feel her embrace again
    and until then I will be inspired by her faith and her servant’s heart, comforted by the knowledge that she no longer sees through a mirror dimly, but now she sees her Lord and Savior face to face. Now she knows fully even as she is fully known.

  6. Grandma- Thank you for this amazing legacy you gave all of us. Growing up when you and Grandpa babysat us (more hanging out then babysitting), I thought a Carls Jr. milkshake and a good foot massage could cure almost any illness. I’m still not sure if
    the 1 gallon orange drink is soda or juice? I just know it had sugar! I loved spending the night with you at the ranch and waking in the morning to the smell of coffee mate powder and Grandpa shuffling the newspaper around. Now that I am grown, a milkshake
    may not heal an illness but it definitely helps. Still unsure about the orange drink, and coffee mate makes me smile. But because of you I know who Jesus is, He loves me and wants to have a true relationship with me. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God
    is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” Psalm 73:26 You are in heaven at peace and worshipping God face to face. Hallelujah! Say hi to Grandpa and Aunt Shannon! Love you and Miss you Always! See you again one day! Jamie

  7. My Dear Aunt Camilla. Your home was my home away from home. I loved staying at your house in the country, being a country girl at heart. You were so good and patient with me. I was such a picky eater, which was something you had little tolerance for, but
    you loved me anyway. I’ll never forget sitting in your little breakfast room eating unsweetened wheat puffs and listening to Uncle Frank tell stories. I can just see you now, sitting next to him as he tells you some wonderful little story and you are giggling
    in that sweet quiet way of yours. Your whole face giggled – probably the sweetest thing about you. I will never forget your sweet smile and the way you cared for your family and all those around you. Your love for Jesus was so strong and it showed in everything
    you did. I love you so much, and look forward to the day we all get to see your sweet face again!

  8. Grandma, I wish I could give you one more kiss and tell you I love you (to which you would respond, “I know you do”). Thank you so much for taking care of our mom when she was so ill and for your and Grandpa’s patience with us “house apes.” Thank you for
    struggling to understand the mysteries and more difficult teachings of the Bible and modeling a true fire for the Lord. Thank you for loving Him, your family, and those around you. I know you are not resting so PARTY in peace with Grandpa, Mom, and your son,
    Tuscon! I will love you every day of my life (but you know that already)! I pray that God will always bring your and Grandpa’s beautiful model of Christ-likeness to mind as your family forges their way through life and that, like you, we never stop trying
    to be more like Him. P.S. Because of you, I will never, ever, ever forget the meaning of my name. However, also because of you, I probably won’t ever be able to live up to it.

  9. I remember when I worked with Camilla at Better Bread Bakery over 50 years ago. Also Frank and my husband Dennis always enjoyed visiting with each other as they both were in the Air Force. They both were stationed at Castle. Camilla was always pleasant
    in her quite ways. You have many good memories. Please accept my sympathy. Mary Lou Cederlind

  10. Elise and family how blessed are all of you to have been part of Camilla life and looks like she celebrated her life. My prayers and thoughts to you

  11. my condolences to the family especially Doris and Fran Pike. I would love to hear from you.

  12. My dearest sister Camilla, when you became a Christian I was living at home admiring my other two sisters who were dating boys and having fun. I looked forward to doing the same. When you wanted me to go to church with you I resisted.
    I washed my hair and put it in curlers so you could not take me with you. It didn’t work; you took me anyway. That was the first time I heard the Gospel, and I accepted Jesus that day. My life and desires completely changed. And now I’m looking forward to
    seeing you where you are! Miss you greatly. You have been like a second mom to me. Love, Wilma

  13. I miss my dear Aunt Camilla very much! She will always be central to warm, happy memories of the Thiessen family in my childhood. I thank God for her stalwart faith, her strong sense of right and wrong and her passion for the gospel and the Bible. I will
    always think of her as a spiritual matriarch due to her godly influence upon our family. I thank God for Aunt Camilla and will always bless her memory.

  14. Family dinners, swimming in the canal, feeling loved and welcome in your home and most of all the influence of your Godly wisdom. I am so blessed by you and Uncle Frank. See you in heaven! Lots of love and fond memories, Debby (Pike)

  15. 24-Nov-2011 12:26 PM

    Once Billy Graham was asked, what should a Christian do? He simply replied “Read the Bible. Work hard and honestly. And don’t complain.” I’m not sure of the date when Camilla taught Billy that, but I am glad he listened and passed her wisdom along. In
    this life I will miss her wisdom, wit, tenacity and her sayings “Don’t spend a dollar to save a dime”; “There’s a reason they call it Real Estate – because it’s real” and “You will just spend cash – then it’s gone”. I’ll miss her chasing Russellite’s down
    the street trying to convert them, and her short giggle when something struck her as funny. Most of all, the entire world will miss her determination to make sure everyone knew who Jesus Christ is. Mark Twain summed Camilla up perfectly when he said “Few things
    are harder to put up with than a good example” Fair well for now. Love, Chuck Kleiber

  16. Camilla was a family friend for several years, especially being ther eldest son married my sister, Beverly. She and her husband, Frank loved to share the LORD wherever then went. Camilla loved to play a lap harp/piano for the elderly at various nursing
    homes. She will be missed greatly. She is now at home with JESUS whom she loved dearly.

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