banner.gif (15051 bytes)

Obituaries from the week of November 6, 2013

Dianna Keeler, 63


Memorial services Dianna Keeler were held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Currie, MN on Saturday, November 2, 2013 with Fr. Andrew Vogel officiating.  The organist was Patty Leclaire.  The song leader was Jackie Witter.  Interment was at Calvary Cemetery in Currie, MN. 

Dianna Pommier Keeler was born April 20, 1950 in Slayton, Minnesota to Calix and Elizabeth (Betty) Leas Pommier.  She grew up on the family farm near Currie, MN and attended Tracy High School.  Following high school Dianna married Chuck Keeler and they made their home in various places including Colorado and Minnesota. She later attended Normandale Community College and Mankato State University.  Chuck passed away in 1991.  Dianna was engaged to Dale Valaske and returned to Colorado. Dianna and Dale’s favorite place to be was the cabin in Hayward, WI, where they enjoyed time with their family and friends.  Dianna most recently was working for Cere-Scan and H & R Block where she used her talented accounting skills.  Although she loved her career and the people she worked with, her goal was to retire to the cabin with Dale.  Along with spending time with family and friends, Dianna also loved shopping for shoes and purses (to match), garage sales, thrift stores, reading, Christmas, gardening and working outside.  «Gramsy» as she was called by her grandkids always put everyone else first and had a heart bigger than life.  

Due to failing health Dianna moved to St. Gertrude’s Care Center in Shakopee, MN where she passed away surrounded by her family on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at the age of 63. Her faith was important to her and remained strong through her battle with cancer.

Survivors include her two children, Tom Keeler of St. Paul, MN and Jennifer Witter and her husband, Jay of Prior Lake, MN, three grandchildren, Jake Tormoen, Lauren Witter and Brandon Witter, fiancé, Dale Valaske of Hayward, WI, her parents, Calix and Betty Pommier of Currie, MN, one brother, Murray Pommier and his wife, Jeanne of Bloomington, MN and one sister, Michelle (Shelly) Bassett and her husband, Dave of Currie, MN.  She is preceded in death by her husband, Chuck Keeler. 



Richard Nelson, 83

Richard W. (Dick) Nelson, 83, of Plainview, MN passed away on October 28, 2013 at Oregon Manor Nursing Home in Oregon, WI.  After a long journey with Alzheimer’s it is easy to lose sight of all that a person was. 

Who was Richard W. Nelson? 

His life story began on April 6, 1930 in Lamberton, MN when he was sixth in a family of ten born to Oscar and Esther (Krogh) Nelson.  He spent his childhood around southwest MN and graduated from Tracy High School in 1949.  He began college at Mankato State, but it was interrupted by the Korean Conflict.  He served his country as an MP in the Army and was stationed in Korea.  He was awarded the Korean Service Medal, two Bronze Stars, United Nations Service Medal, and a Combat Infantry Badge.  When he returned from Korea, he began college at St. Cloud State University.  His major was business and he taught 28 years in Plainview, MN, where he also coached boys and girls basketball for many winning seasons.

While attending St. Cloud State, he met and married the love of his life, Delores (Dee) Smith, celebrating their 59th Anniversary on August 15, 2013.  They had two daughters, Blair and Marni.  Dick also completed his Masters of Business at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. 

Multiple interests included traveling to nearly every state in the U.S. and spending 4 months in Europe visiting sites during two family vacations.  The family also enjoyed camping in the summers.  Dick had a keen sense of humor, enjoyed imparting clever quips and humorous stories.  Dick also played guitar, piano, accordion and harmonica.  Until very recently, he continued to play the piano and harmonica to entertain residents in the nursing home, always playing by “ear” since he couldn’t read a note of music.  He loved most sports and lettered in football, basketball and track in high school and track in college.  Golfing was a lifelong love, a sport he taught both his daughters.  Golfing was also his retirement sport of choice.   He often gave advice to some who needed help.  He enjoyed golf during the time he and his wife spent 18 winters in South Texas.  He was also a member of Peace United Methodist Church, where he served the role of financial secretary for 20 years. 

Richard is survived by his wife, Dee, two daughters, Blair Sanford (Scott), Marni  Noldin (Mari Reinheimer), one sister, Betty Meyer, Hillsdale, MI, 2 brothers, Robert Nelson, Hutchinson, MN and David (Carol) Nelson, Hillsdale, MI and many nieces, nephews and cousins.  He has 5 grandchildren, Emily, Ellen and Jonathan Noldin and Will and Mary Sanford.  He was preceded in death by his parents, and sisters:  Juleen Paetzel, Ruth Detlefson, Carol Einertson, Jeannette Cunningham, Janice Miller and brother, Howard Nelson. 

Richard was a wonderful devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle and brother as well as a good neighbor, teacher and friend to many.  A truly good Christian man has left this earth, leaving a fine example to follow.

His family would like to thank everyone for your cards, emails, and prayers during the past several months during his illness and subsequent decline.  We also thank the caregivers at Sienna Meadows and Oregon Manor in Oregon, WI, where he spent the last 8 months. 

Visitation is scheduled at Schad and Zabel Funeral Home, Plainview, MN on Friday, November 15 from 4:00-7:00 p.m.  A Memorial Service will be held on November 16 at 11:00 a.m., preceded by visitation beginning at 10:00 AM at PEACE United Methodist Church, Plainview.  A burial service at Greenwood Cemetery will follow the luncheon.  Memorials may be directed to Peace United Methodist Church or Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Research. 

Schad & Zabel Funeral Home in Plainview is in charge of the arrangements.



Clesta Smith, 101

Clesta Mabel Willhite Smith age 101 of Tracy passed away Saturday, November 2, 2013 at Prairie View Healthcare Center in Tracy. Funeral services were held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, November 5 at the Methodist Church in Walnut Grove. Interment was in the Walnut Grove Cemetery. Online condolences may be sent at  Stephens Funeral Service - Walnut Grove Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. 

Clesta was born on October 7, 1912 to Senator and Susie Anna (Cartwright) Willhite in Palo Alto County, Iowa. When she was a small child the family moved to a farm south of Lucan, MN where she grew up and she attended Country School District #79 through the eighth grade.  She was baptized and confirmed in the Trinity Lutheran Free Church on June 10, 1928 in Lucan. Clesta married Clinton Smith on August 23, 1933 at the Lutheran church parsonage in Lamberton. They lived in Wabasso and Marshall, and in 1944 moved to Walnut Grove where they made their home.  Clesta worked various jobs and became the head cook at the Walnut Grove School for 18 years. She also owned and operated The Village Drive-In in Walnut Grove for a number of years. She was very active in her church where she was involved in Circle, taught Sunday school, was a youth leader, and President of U.M.W.  Clesta was also a lifetime member of the Tracy VFW, Walnut Grove Legion Auxiliary, Birthday Club, and Bible Study Group.  She did a lot of sewing and embroidery work.  Clesta loved to bake and cook, sharing her baked goods with family and friends when they stopped in for coffee.  When she entertained the first thing she did was put out one of her famous tablecloths without a wrinkle in it. Her table was not fancy but very neat with lots of good food.

She is survived by her three daughters: Bonnie (Vernal) Wahl of Westbrook, Beverly Padgett of Fairmont, and Darlene Brandt of North Mankato; 10 grandchildren; 23 great grandchildren; 34 great-great grandchildren; six step grandchildren; 15 step great grandchildren; and 31 step great-great grandchildren. 

She is preceded in death by her parents, husband Clinton, son-in-law Bud Padgett, siblings Everett and George Willhite, Verna Benedict, Iva Arends, and Martha Sluss, many nieces and nephews, two step grandsons, and one step great-great granddaughter.