Darlene "Dottie" Halberg Hamlin

Feb 19, 1921 - Feb 22, 2017



Three days after her 96th birthday, Darlene (Dottie) Halberg Hamlin peacefully went HOME to heaven after living at Dogwood Forest of Acworth, an assisted living community in Acworth, GA for the past 2 ½ years. She was born on February 19, 1921 to Arthur Johnson and Mabel Peterson Johnson in Golden, Colorado. Her parents left Colorado one year later, returning to Staples, Minnesota where her father became a farmer and later an insurance adjustor. She attended a rural school where the seed was planted to become a teacher.

At the age of 10 (in the middle of the Depression), Dottie’s family moved into the nearby town of Staples, MN. During her teen years, she was actively involved in Confirmation, youth groups, and Bible Camp at Faith Lutheran Church, and she graduated from Staples High School in 1939.

After completing a one-year training program at the Teacher’s Training Department in Staples, Dottie began her teaching career in 1940 in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Todd County. She taught for three years and attended St. Cloud Teachers College during the summers. In 1944, she became the Head Teacher and Director of Sumner Field Nursery School in Minneapolis, MN.

On New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 1945, Dottie married Herman Halberg and resided in Brainerd, MN where her daughters, Karen and Jean, were born.

Dottie was the Principal and teacher of grades 1-3 at the Cuyuna Public School from 1955 until the family moved to Sacramento, California in 1957. There, Dottie and Herman became active members of Fruitridge Lutheran Church (later to be known as Gloria Dei Lutheran Church). She taught Kindergarten and First Grade at the church’s school from 1958-1963 and became the school’s first principal. In addition, Dottie also taught at Our Savior’s Lutheran School from 1963-1965. Over the course of her 50+ years as a member of Gloria Dei, she also taught Sunday School, was Superintendent of Vacation Bible School many times, and served as Sunday School Superintendent in addition to many other areas
of service.

After receiving her Bachelor of Education degree from Sacramento State College in 1966, Dottie completed her career as an educator at Samuel Kennedy Elementary School in the Elk Grove School District where she taught 3rd grade for 17 years. Her entire teaching career encompassed 34 years. She retired from teaching in 1983.

Dottie was the Director of Music for Jobs Daughters Bethel #291 for several years while her daughters served as Honored Queens. She and Herman were also active members of a local square dancing group with whom they enjoyed many outings.

Dottie’s first husband, Herman, died suddenly in 1975; and to help with her grief, she started a group in 1977 for the widowed in Sacramento called T.H.E.O.S. (They Help Each Other Spiritually) from which she had several life-long friends.

She married Claude Hamlin on April 3, 1982. Both were actively involved at Gloria Dei Lutheran and started Small Group Bible Studies in 1986. She and Claude enjoyed golfing, traveling, and spending time with their grandchildren until Claude’s death in 2006.

In March 2012, Dottie sold her home in Sacramento and moved to Chancellor Place, an assisted living community in Lodi, CA to be near her daughter, Jean. Then in 2014, she moved to Georgia where she lived at Dogwood Forest of Acworth, an assisted living community located near her daughter, Karen. Dottie continued living there until her death on February 22, 2017.

Dottie is preceded in death by both husbands, Herman Halberg and Claude Hamlin, along with her brother Wesley R. Johnson. She is survived by her two daughters, Karen Horacek (Bruce) of Acworth, GA and Jean Wenell (Larry) of San Diego, CA.; two step-daughters, Karen Combest (Bill) of Vacaville, CA and Colleen Johnson of Elk Grove, CA; four grandchildren, Amy Horacek of Sanford, FL, Jon Horacek (Joanna) of San Francisco, CA, Anne-Marie Cancilla (Anthony) of Lodi, CA and Michael Wenell (Nadia) of San Diego, CA; and two great granddaughters, Alexia Wenell and Mila Wenell of San Diego, CA. She also has four step grandchildren and several step great grandchildren. In addition, Dottie is survived by two nieces, Susan Johnson Edwards (Darrel) and Betsy Johnson, both of San Diego, CA.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Ninos de Baja in memory of Dotties lifelong love for and service to children.

Funeral Home:
East Lawn Elk Grove Mortuary
9189 E. Stockton Blvd
Elk Grove, CA
US 95624


  • Colleen Johnson says:

    Dottie, You were a wonderful part of my life, and I will love and miss you forever. Thank you for loving my family. Love, Colleen, Mike, Alexis, Christina and Tiffany

  • Jeff Hamlin says:

    Dottie was such a loving and caring person whom I was honored to know as my step-grandmother. She complemented my grandfather so perfectly and I miss them both very much.

  • Michelle Combest says:

    I got to know Dottie when I met my husband, David Combest, who is one of Dottie’s step grandchildren. The moment I met Dottie, I knew she was an amazing woman who dearly loved her family, her church, and her friends. Dottie is one of the warmest, kindest, and most generous people I know. The world is a lot sadder without Dottie in it. Thank you Dottie for touching my life in such a graceful way.

  • Rose Tokos Johnson says:

    I met Dottie after she married my Uncle Claude Hamlin. I visited them several times at their home in Sacramento and got to see them when they came up to Grass Valley to visit my Mom, Pearl, Claude’s sister. Dottie always seemed so happy and friendly. Thank you Dottie for coming into my Uncle’s life and making so many good times with him and his family.

  • Grace Navarro says:

    I got to know Dottie through my husband David, living next door as neighbors. Got more acquainted when I had the privilege of assisting her at her home during the day, She shared her Christian knowledge and belief in Gods word , very loving. I cherished the times we shared together. She always had it together in her appearance , her hair , her jewelry , and dress , for all occasions.. Her warm smile , and so caring.. Her caring and kindness is still carried on through her loving daughters and family members. I will always remember the wonderful conversations we shared, she left me a lot of wonderful memories. I am very happy she was part of my life , she will be missed.

  • Debra Ciraolo says:

    God bless the family of Dottie. She and Herman were my sponsors (god parents) when I was baptized at about 8 years old about in 1971 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Dottie kept in contact throughout the years always encouraging me in my walk with Christ and even wrote me letters after I moved to Arizona in 2001. Herman had a big job to do during my baptism when he lifted me up for the water & gave a big grunt as if my skinny little girly body was a strain. Dottie always encouraged my violin playing for church services and overall in everything concerning my Christian life. She was also my older sister’s Sunday school teacher. Good memories and praises to our Lord for blessing us with such a wonderful person. Debra McCrorey-Ciraolo

  • Fil & Shirley Cardella says:

    We are Blessed to have known Dottie. May God Bless the whole family with his Peace. She has always represented our Lord well

  • Karen Hamlin Combest and family says:

    We have loved having Dottie as a part of our family. She and my father had a loving marriage. Dottie was such a joy to all of us.We will miss her sweetness, love and kindness.

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