Obituary: Wilma (Wenger) Friesen

HESSTON—Wilma (Wenger) Friesen, 93, died Friday, March 9, 2018, at the Schowalter Villa in Hesston. 

She was born Wilma Elene Wenger on March 11, 1924, one mile east and one and three quarter miles south of South English, Iowa, on the family farm, the third child and only daughter of Homer Wenger and Velma (Cook) Wenger.

Two brothers, Harry of Wellman, Iowa, and Wayne of Hindman, Ky., preceded her in death as did a daughter in law Jane Friesen, a son-in-law Stanley Roth and a daughter-in-law Kathleen Foster Friesen. Survivors include her husband Paul of Hesston and children including Kelvin (Karen) of Archbold, Ohio, with children Kimberly Kulp (Micah) and Kathryn Friesen Kempf (Scott), Janice Roth West (Tom) of Wichita with children Zachary Roth and Matthew Roth (Allison); and great-grandchildren Ella and Piper, Eric (Wanda) of Cimarron, with children Lana Unruh (Kale) and great-granddaughter Keira and Kendra Headrick (Slade) and great-granddaughter Sadie, Gregg (Joanna) of Newton with children Rebecca and Kendall, Jon of North Newton with children Blake and Jaecy, and Jennifer LeFevre (Dennis) of Woodland Park, Colo., with children Kaedi Baer (Jesse) and Keegan.

Wilma grew up an active part of an extended family in the South English, Iowa, community and the Liberty Mennonite Church southeast of town. Just prior to her senior year in high school, the family moved to Wellman, Iowa, where Wilma graduated from Wellman High School before attending Hesston College. In that setting, she roomed with Grace Friesen who introduced her to her brother Paul with whom she kindled a relationship that lasted through her three years of nursing education in LaJunta, Colo., and led to their marriage on November 29, 1947.

Wilma and Paul initially lived near Morton, Ill., and in Sterling, Ill., where Wilma held several nursing jobs while Paul worked in church planting. Their first two children were born in Sterling before the family moved to Hesston, where their next four children were born, and Wilma continued her nursing career while Paul took a position with Hesston College.

In Hesston, Wilma initially served as director of nursing at the Schowalter Villa, ending her career there as an assistant administrator. In her final years, Wilma and Paul moved to the Schowalter Villa complex enjoying friends and family in the setting she had served for many years.

She is remembered as a faithful, quiet and kind person, quick to respond and slow to react, quick to forgive and slow to judge. She will be missed by many and remembered well.

Services coordinated by Miller Ott Funeral Home of Hesston with visitation from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 17, are at the Hesston Mennonite Church and a memorial service to follow at 4 p.m. Interment will be at Eastlawn Cemetery in rural Zimmerdale.

Memorials can be assigned to either Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice or the Schowalter Villa Good Samaritan Caring Fund.

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