Willetta Esther (1915 - 2008)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Heidemann, Wagner, Wood, Rutter, Andersen, Balbach, Dotson, Selz, Pingel, Anderson, Schneider, Warmuth, Hediger
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI.) November 12, 2008
Heidemann, Willetta Esther (10 December 1915 - 4 November 2008)
Willetta Esther Wood Heidemann died Nov. 4, 2008, at the Marshfield Care Center where she had resided the last few months. It is fitting that Nov. 4 was Election Day, as she had a keen interest in politics.
Esther, as she was known as a child was born to Frank and Elizabeth (Wagner) Wood Dec. 10, 1915, in the Town of Laenna near Mt. Pulaski in Logan County, IL.
In the fall of 1918, her family moved by train to Tioga in Clark County. They settled on a farm in the Town of Seif where she grew up and later raised her family. Her son, Robert, and his wife, Judy, still own and live on that farm, making 90 years in the family.
After completing eight grades at Worchel School, she stayed home two years before entering Neillsville High School, which she completed in three years. She was the first in her family to attend high school, boarding in town during the week and traveling the 13 miles to the farm in her brother’s milk truck for weekends. It was in high school that she became known by Willetta, her given first name.
After completing a year of teacher’s training in the same building, she became a country schoolteacher. In 1954, she returned to teach in that building, the Southside School, as an elementary classroom teacher.
In 1935 she went to teach in the one-room East Side School in the Town of Butler, where she boarded with Charles and Tekla Anderson. It was there she met Tekla’s brother, Lyman. After a five-year courtship, they were married June 15, 1940, in La Crosse. During that time she taught at Fairview School and worked summers in her brother Walter’s Super Ice Cream Shop in Waupun. For a short time after their marriage, they managed a shop for him at Beaver Dam.
Lyman and Willetta lived in Green Bay where he drove truck for Al Schneider until September 1943, when they moved to her parents’ farm and bought it from them. They worked together farming until 1947, when she returned to teaching country school - Blackberry, Willard State Graded and Fairview.
As her teaching career continued, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the State Teachers’ College in Eau Claire and her master of arts from the University of Minnesota at Duluth. She became an elementary school principal at Neillsville, Owen-Withee and Greenwood. She also taught at Sheboygan County Teachers’ College in the early 60s.
After retirement she and Lyman both worked at Figi’s in Marshfield, where she did office work.
She had a lifelong interest in learning photography. For a while she used a 3-D camera. All her life she enjoyed travel, both to visit relatives and enjoy scenery. She was a generous woman and helped many people throughout her life. She and Lyman both enjoyed flowers.
In December 1998, she and husband moved to the Purdy (now the Angelus) on Chestnut Avenue in Marshfield.
She was baptized March 5, 1916, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mt. Pulaski, IL. She confirmed her Christian faith May 12, 1929, at Immanuel Lutheran Church at Globe. She remained a member of Immanuel all her life and was buried in the church cemetery next to her husband, Lyman, who died Dec. 4, 2002.
She was predeceased by her parents; her husband; three brothers, Walter, Warren and Wilfred Wood; and her only sister, Winifred Ruth Rutter. She knew that she had lived longer than any of them.
She is survived by her youngest brother, Wilhelm "Bill" (Barbara) Wood of Eagle River; children, Carolyn Heidemann (Karl Andersen) of Lake Mills, Robert (Judy) Heidemann of Neillsville and Dewella "Heidi" (Philip) Balbach of Blue Mounds; six grandchildren, Linda (Rick) Dotson, Craig (Nancy) Balbach, Vicki (Steve) Selz, Lynette, Don (Kristin) and Duane (Laura) Heidemann; and nine great-grandchildren, Elizabeth Dotson, Amanda and Christopher Balbach, Paul, Kayla and Kelsi Selz and Tristen, Andy and Will Heidemann.
She loved all of them.
Funeral services were held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, at Immanuel Lutheran Church at Globe, rural Neillsville, with Pastor Warmuth officiating.
Buchanan Funeral Home, Neillsville, assisted the family.
Special thanks to the staff of Ministry Health Care, the Purdy (Angelus), Marshfield Clinic, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Marshfield Care Center for keeping her comfortable in recent years. Also, thank you to Pastor Pingel who conducts weekly services at the Angelus. Being able together to worship and pray and sing was important to her. She also treasured the pastoral calls from Immanuel Lutheran Church at Globe and the church bulletins Arlene Hediger mailed her each week. She read them closely.
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