JEANINE RAE WILLTS was born on November 17, 1935, to Myron and Anna (Hohensee) Johnson in Worthington, Minnesota. She spent her childhood years in Bigelow, Minnesota and graduated from Worthington High School. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Worthington where she was also united in marriage to Gordon Willts on June 21, 1957. The couple made their first home in Bigelow before re-locating to Watertown, South Dakota. For the majority of their married life, Jeanine and Gordon made their home in Tyler, Minnesota. Shortly after moving to Tyler, Jeanine began her 40-year career as a nurse aide at A.L. Vadheim Memorial Hospital. After working in the hospital for many years, she went on to care for patients in home health and hospice. Jeanine truly loved her work and the patients she cared for. Her nurturing spirit was also evident in her roles as wife, mother and homemaker. Jeanine’s full-time work never got in the way of her housework and always having a home-cooked meal ready for her family complete with desert. She also took great pride in making sure her daughters were taught how to tend to a household, and impressed upon them the importance of completing the day’s chores before fun could be had.
On October 28, 2018, Gordon preceded Jeanine in death. Soon thereafter, Jeanine relocated to Heartwood Heights in Sibley, Iowa where she died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 83 years, eight months and 27 days.
Jeanine was an active member of First English Lutheran Church in Tyler. She served on many church committees including the quilting club and WELCA. Jeanine had a life-long love of baking and cooking. She put this passion to use by volunteering as an AEbelskiever cook during the annual celebration in Tyler, canning the produce that was grown with the assistance of her husband, and establishing a Christmas baking tradition with her daughter, Pam. She enjoyed sharing trays of their Christmas goodies with friends, neighbors and relatives during the holiday season. Following retirement, Jeanine became an avid reader. If not reading a novel, she would entertain herself by reading her collection of cookbooks. Jeanine’s grandchildren were her pride and joy. She was their biggest fan and frequently traveled to Sibley for music concerts and sporting events. During her work career, her vacation days were happily spent babysitting her grandchildren or having them come stay in Tyler during the summer. She also enjoyed traveling and cherished the memories made while visiting her daughter, Lisa, in Arizona and Washington. Jeanine had a genuinely kind and caring nature, and her warm personality was adored by many who met her. She will be deeply missed.
She is remembered by her daughters, Pamela (Todd) Juber of Sibley, Iowa and Lisa Willts (Don Gonser) of Vancouver, Washington; grandchildren, Gretchen, Matthew (Josie), and Grant Juber; sister-in-law Elaine Reitsma; several special cousins, and numerous friends in Tyler and Sibley. She is preceded in death by her husband, Gordon and her patents, Myron and Anna Johnson.