There is an Irish proverb that says, “A good friend is like a four-leaf clover — hard to find and lucky to have.”
We all have friends through the stages of our lives. The grade school friends, the middle school friends, the high school friends, the college friends, the work friends.
Our lives change as we get older, and so do our friendships. Paths diverge, people move away and those friendships fade in time.
But there are some friendships that survive the meandering life path that we travel — those are the four-leaf clovers. Here are a few of them.
Bobbie and Sarah, 18 years
Bobbie Jones and Sarah Weber met, along with Jones’ daughter Olivia and Weber’s son Mitch, in the waiting room of an acute care clinic.
“We laugh about it now because we would never utilize acute care,” Jones said. “We’d always wait until Monday.”
“We just happened to both feel we had to take our babies to acute care on a Sunday afternoon,” Weber said.
The mothers started chatting in the waiting room and discovered that they were both teachers in the Dubuque Community School District.
“Then, I mentioned that we’d just moved into a new house,” Weber said. “Bobbie said they’d just started building. We finally realized we were both talking about the same development.”
And just like a Hollywood mom-com, they discovered that not only were they talking about the same neighborhood, but they also were talking about the same street. It didn’t take them long to realize they had adjoining lots and were going to be next door neighbors.
Jones, 46, is now assistant principal at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School. She and her husband, Bobby, have three girls — Carson, 24; Olivia, 19; and Natalie, 15.
Weber, 50, teaches at Prescott Elementary School. She and husband Mark have four boys — Nick, 23; Jared, 20; Mitch, 19; and Seth, 14.
Along with their husbands, the pair also own Key West Childcare Center, a business they took over when the Dubuque archdiocese began closing sites.
“There is a real need in the (Key West) area for child care,” Jones said. “So we proposed to the parish that we take it over.”
The families have vacationed together and have even sent some of their children off to the same college at the same time. They also enjoy combined family activities at home.
“Weber-Jones nights,” as they’ve come to be known, are evenings when the families get together for a cookout, a game night, a movie night or other activity.
“When we haven’t seen each other in a while, the kids will ask when we’re going to have a Weber-Jones night,” Weber said.
And what about Olivia and Mitch, the babies who brought them together?
“They’re besties,” Jones said. “All of the kids are. It’s pretty amazing how well they all get along.”
Brenda and Stacy, 25 years
In 1996, Brenda Henry-Schreiber and Stacy Franzen liked to throw darts at bars and pubs throughout the tri-states.
They knew of each other through the leagues and tournaments they participated in but had never formally met.
At a regional dart tournament in Dubuque,
Henry-Schreiber had been arguing with her then-boyfriend, Randy. Frustrated, she stepped into the women’s restroom with a friend to vent.
Franzen had stepped into a bathroom stall just before the two ladies came in. She was at the bar with her boyfriend, whose name also happened to be Randy.
“I heard someone talking bad about Randy, and I thought she was talking about my Randy,” Franzen said, with a laugh. “I came out of that stall ready to kill somebody.”
“We finally got it straightened out that we were talking about two different people,” Henry-Schreiber said. “And we’ve been friends ever since. And there are no more Randys in our life.”
Henry-Schreiber, 53, of Dubuque, and Franzen, 49, of Shullsburg, Wis., said the changes in their lives as they got older didn’t change their friendship.
“When we first met, we were both single moms, on government benefits, in obviously messed up relationships,” Henry-Schreiber said. “But when one of us took a step up, we reached back and brought the other one with us.”
Franzen readily admits that her friend kept her in check when needed.
“Brenda was definitely the one with a good head on her shoulders,” she said. “She had to reel me in. She was the one who kept me grounded, who would say things like, ‘Make sure the kids have their shoes and socks.’”
Henry-Schreiber, a single mom when she had daughter Chelsee, who is 31, has been married to Mike for six years. She is a
part-time paralegal and runs a business working as a professional guardian, assisting those who need help navigating their health care and legal interests.
Franzen, a Dubuque native, and her husband, Clyde, recently moved to Shullsburg. She has two children: DJ, 28; and Kayla, 25.
When Franzen’s health necessitated a stay at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota,
Henry-Schreiber would make the trek to visit, and when she wasn’t visiting, she was calling.
“She’s been there for me always, even if it’s three o’clock in the morning,” Franzen said.
While the distance between them is now a bit farther and they’re not seeing each other as much, they both agree that theirs is a life-long friendship.
“We’re there for each other no matter when or where,” Henry-Schreiber said. “That’s just how it is.”
Kimberly and Emily, 33 years
It’s difficult for Kimberly Reinert and Emily Shedek to pinpoint exactly when they met, but they know how it happened.
“We grew up in Rickardsville (Iowa) on dairy farms,” Shedek said. “When I found out there was a girl about my age that I could hang out with just by cutting through the cornfield, that was it. I think I was about 6.”
Shedek, 39, works in public relations and lives in Dubuque with husband Tom and daughters Addison, 11; and Cora, 9.
Reinert, 37, is an early childhood special education consultant for Keystone AEA. She lives in Peosta, Iowa, with husband Andy and children Kayleigh, 11; Briella, 10; Quentin, 6; and Ian, 3.
When the two friends got to high school (Shedek at Wahlert Catholic in Dubuque and Reinert at Beckman Catholic in Dyersville), they found their paths diverging.
“I don’t think we necessarily grew apart,” Reinert said. “We just grew as our own people. We weren’t riding the bus for two hours a day together anymore, and then Emily went to Iowa State for college, and I went to Loras (College). We didn’t see each other as much, but we did write humungous emails to each other.”
After Shedek graduated from ISU and came back to Dubuque, she and Reinert would meet once per week for dinner while Reinert was a student at Loras.
“We always shut the place down,” Shedek said. “They’d be vacuuming around us and putting up chairs. We would apologize to every server and leave a big tip.”
When they first met, Reinert said it was a friendship of convenience.
“We were around the same age, and there were no other girls in our farm neighborhood,” she said. “But then we discovered we had so many of the same interests.”
The women have been friends for so long, that many of their memories are flashes — a loose tooth on the bus, one slamming the other’s hand accidentally in a door, dressing up in anticipation of watching the Miss America contest on TV and having an unfortunate curling iron accident.
Shedek moved out of state with her husband for a time, making a series of moves that found them living in a number of states and Canada before moving back to Dubuque almost three years ago.
“We picked up right where we left off,” Shedek said. “There’s always an understanding and something amazing about somebody who you don’t have to explain any backstory to — ever. To know that somebody has your back in that moment, good, bad or otherwise, and says just the right thing, that is what friendship looks like.”
The friends have stayed connected even through the unpredictability of COVID-19.
“I was teaching my children at home, and I’m not a natural born teacher,” Shedek said. “I’m reaching out to her saying, ‘I don’t know how to keep them on track,’ and she’s showing up with a coffee at my front door and we are 6 feet apart, bawling and trying to figure out how to get through this incredibly difficult time.”
Shedek and Reinert hope they’re modeling a friendship for their children.
“You don’t have to explain why you didn’t respond to that phone call or text or email, because we know that it will pick up right where we left off, whether it’s been a day or a week or a month, “Reinert said. “I hope our own girls see that this is what friendship should be. Don’t allow yourself to settle for anything less.”
June and Pat, 62 years
June Henry and Pat Schrodt are 75 years young. They’ve been friends since they met in 1960 at what was then Jefferson Junior High School.
“I’m more effervescent these days,” Schrodt said. “I wasn’t like this when we first met.”
Shyness aside, the two became fast friends. They lived not too far from each other in Dubuque’s North End.
“June’s house was the only house my mother would allow me to go to,” Schrodt said. “She was old-fashioned and you didn’t go and play with the neighbors. But I could walk to her house.”
They also remember walking together to and from school every day.
“We were lucky if we got a dime for bus fare,” Henry said. “So we both lived on Jackson and would meet up on 22nd and Jackson and walk together.”
The two went to Dubuque Senior High School, then June left to attend business school in Des Moines. She moved back to Dubuque as Schrodt was getting married.
“June was a witness at my wedding,” Schrodt said. “And then she made the cake for my next wedding.”
The friends laughed as they tried to navigate their family trees and wedding history.
“Let’s see, I guess you could say I’m single,” said Henry, who works remotely for Sedgewick. “We divorced, and then, he passed away.”
“I got divorced and remarried,” said Schrodt, who works at Goodwill. “And we’ve been married for over 40 years.”
Last October, the friends and their families gathered for the marriage of one of Schrodt’s granddaughters.
“My daughter said, ‘Mom, you and Pat have a four-generation friendship,’” Henry said.
“There were our kids and our grandkids, who grew up with each other, and then, our great-grandkids are on the dance floor together, just having a blast,” Schrodt said.
The legacy the friends have amassed between the two of them is impressive — 8 children, 27 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Henry and Schrodt have stayed connected through marriages, divorces, moves and other life changes. They’ve also stayed in touch with other high school friends and have attended every class reunion.
“We’re blessed to have so many old friends,” Henry said. “We’ve had some good times.”
Michelle London writes for the Telegraph Herald.