Mar 15, 2024 3:23 PM

Claus Benninghoven

Posted Mar 15, 2024 3:23 PM
Claus Benninghoven
Claus Benninghoven

Claus Benninghoven of Burlington, died March 12, 2024, at West Point Care Center, West Point. He was 89.

Claus was born July 16, 1934, in Ronsdorf, Wuppertal, Germany, the son of Werner Gottfried and Elisabeth Anna Benninghoven. On July 16, 1955, he married Eleonore Dietz in Bad Wildungen, Germany and soon after immigrated, with Eleonore, to Niagara Falls, Canada.

As a young man in Germany, Claus learned the brick mason trade and crafted his skills in Iowa, having built the Burlington US Post Office, Corse School, and many other buildings throughout Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Restoration work of historic buildings in Nauvoo was among his many accomplishments, including work on construction of the Nauvoo Temple.

Claus had a keen interest in astronomy and in 1985 the Southeastern Iowa Astronomy Club was formed. In 1987, he along with the help of founding members, went on to build the John H. Witte Observatory at Des Moines County Big Hollow Park. He was instrumental in transporting the largest telescope in Iowa, a 1937 Alvyn Clark refractor telescope, housed at the old BHS, Apollo School, to the Witte Observatory.

Claus' diligent observations and accurate drawings of the changes of the equatorial belts and Great Red Spot of Jupiter were recognized internationally and published in the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers journal.

Claus was predeceased in death by his parents, brother Karl Benninghoven, and son-in-law, Michael Field.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Eleonore; four children, Marlene (Michael, dec.) Field, Burlington; Robert (Heather) Benninghoven, Johnston; Joanne (Michael) Bovee, Davenport; and Michael (Sarah) Benninghoven of Burlington; 12 grandchildren, Lorie, Diane, Jason, Jeffrey, Hannah, Breanne, Brett, Lydia, Natalie, Haley, Katie, Brittany, and many great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Monday, March 18, 11 a.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, Burlington. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery.

A special note of appreciation to the staff of West Point Care Center for their dedication and special care they provided Claus in his final days.

Memorial contributions may be made to:
Southeastern Iowa Astronomy Club
P.O. Box 14
West Burlington, IA 52655