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Obituaries from the week of Sept. 2, 2009

William Abernathy, 93
Donald Becken, 85
Kenneth Bicek, 61
Kathy Miller, 63
Milton Moen, 84
Anita Weisbrich, 94
Betty Ziemke, 81

William Abernethy, 93

William James (Jim) Abernethy passed away on August 23, 2009 at Alexandria Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia. 

He was born on a ranch near Williston, ND on July 8, 1916, to Louise Marie Barbara Wischhof and David Arthur Abernethy.  About two and a half years later, the family moved to Minnesota.  Mr. Abernethy received his early education in Tracy, MN and attended the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.

Abernethy served on active duty first with the U.S. Field Artillery and later the U.S. Army Air Force from early 1941 until mid 1946.  He was commissioned a Lieutenant in 1942 and served as Commandant of Cadets at an Advanced Single Engine Flying Training School in Florida, where he met and married Roberta Carter Gammon in 1945.  Two daughters were born to this couple.  After release from active duty, he continued serving in the Air Force Reserve until he retired in 1976.

Early in 1945 Abernethy was reassigned to the Continental Air Forces at Bolling Air Force Base, later the Strategic Air Command.  In 1948 Abernethy was assigned to the headquarters of the United States Air Force, where he continued on a number of assignments.  In 1960 he was detailed to work for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who was then creating the Defense Agencies.  After 14 months of this detail, Abernethy was designated Deputy Director of Personnel for the Defense Supply Agency.  He later became Director of Personnel, Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he was responsible for civilian and military personnel matters for both the Secretary’s Office and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In 1971 Abernethy was selected to return to the United States Air Force as its Director of Civilian Personnel, responsible for about a half million civilians around the world.  Abernethy retired from Federal employment in 1974.  During his civilian career, Abernethy was awarded several of the highest civilian Service Awards in both the Office of the Secretary of Defense and HG, USAF.  His career was recognized in the 1976 issue of Who’s Who in America.

Following his retirement, Mr. Abernethy engaged in numerous consulting ventures, and established his own consulting business late in the 1970s.  He specialized in organization, management and personnel matters, as well as small business ventures.  The business was discontinued in the late 1980s, when he and his wife sold their Fairfax, Virginia home and moved to Melbourne, Florida.  He continued to advise small business through volunteering with Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).  Abernethy has consulted at all levels of Federal and State governments, and has aided numerous clients, some as far away as Mobile, Alabama and Austin, Texas, to become financially and managerially successful business owners.  In 2002 Abernethy and his wife returned to Virginia and moved into Goodwin House in Alexandria, Virginia and his wife passed away that year.

Both in Fairfax, Virginia and in Melbourne, Abernethy was active in the Episcopal Church.  While a member of the Board of Trustees for the Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, Melbourne, the school built a high school, located on Pineda Causeway.  He was active in the Episcopal Chapel at Goodwin House.

Mr. Abernethy is survived by two daughters, Ms. Roberta A. Jones of Rushland, Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Grady K. (Barbara) Carlson of Vienna, Virginia, one granddaughter, Ashley Milton Carlson of Wesclaco, Texas, and three grandsons, William Conrad Carlson and Robert Lamar Carlson, both of Vienna, Virginia, James Charlton Jones of Lee’s Summit, Missouri and one great-granddaughter, Isabelle Roberta Jones of Lee’s Summit, Missouri.  He is also survived by two brothers, Raymond Abernethy, of Palm Springs, CA and David Abernethy of Apple Valley, MN. 

He was preceded in death by siblings Eunice Abernethy Galstad, Eugene Abernethy and Harry Abernethy.

A memorial service will be held at Goodwin House Chapel in Alexandria, VA at 3 p.m. on September 12, 2009.  The cremains will be placed in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.



Donald Becken, 85

Donald Becken, of Hallock, MN passed away on Tuesday, September 1, 2009.  Donald had been living in Tracy with his daughter and son-in-law Jim and Ade Miller.  Funeral services are set in Hallock on September 19.  A complete obituary will be published next week.



Kenneth Bicek, 61

Kenneth R. Bicek, 61, of Le Sueur, formerly of New Prague, died on Friday, August 28, at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN.  Funeral services were held on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 at the Presbyterian Church, Le Sueur, MN, with Rev. Newell Krogmann and Deacon Leonard Shambour officiating   Burial will be in Tracy City Cemetery, Tracy, MN on Thurs. Sept. 3, at 2:00 p.m.

Kenneth was born on April 7, 1948 to Dr. Ernest and Elaine (Martin) Bicek in Tracy, MN.  He graduated from Tracy High School in 1966, and went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy for two years before attending & graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1970. 

He married Katherine Fritsche of New Ulm, MN in 1968, had three children, and later divorced.  His professional career included jobs as a technician for the Minnesota Valley Breeders Association and a salesman for Lakeland Veterinary Supply. In 1979, he founded B&B Vet Supply in New Prague, MN (currently in Montgomery, MN), and worked there until his death. 

He was active in the Presbyterian Church, the Community Garden in Le Sueur, MN, G.O.P. politics, Minnesota Lamb & Wool Producers, Pork Producers and many other agricultural groups.  He especially enjoyed hunting, fishing, and spending time with family and friends at his lake cabin on Minnesota Island, Leech Lake in Walker, MN.

He is survived by his Fiance’ / Best Friend Deb Shambour, of Le Sueur, MN; children; Dr. Heidi (Jeff) Peters of Excelsior, MN, Dr. Andrew (Alison) Bicek of Elk River, MN, Ellen (Dan) Slater of Minnetrista, MN Deb’s daughter, Christy (Eric) Smykalski of Le Sueur, MN; 11 grandchildren; mother; Elaine Bicek of Tracy, MN, sister, Diane (David) Schnelli of Springfield, OR; brothers          Chuck (Susan) Bicek of Boise, ID and David Bicek of Bemidji, MN

He is preceded in death by his father, Dr. Ernest K. Bicek

The Kolden Funeral Home, Le Sueur, MN handled the arrangements.


Kathy Miller, 63

Funeral services were held for Kathleen Anne Miller at Trinity Lutheran Church Slayton, MN on Saturday, August 29, 2009 with Rev. Doug Minton officiating.  The organist was Jessica Schable with special music by Lucas Miller. 

The pallbearers were Robinson Miller, Samuel Miller, Joe Miller, Dan Miller, Mike Wessels, and James Kollbaum.  The honorary pallbearers are Caroline Miller, Maxwell Miller, and Ian Miller.  A private family interment is planned. 

Kathy Miller was born on February 6, 1946 in Ida Grove, Iowa to Norman and Audrey Baxter Kinney.  She grew up in Ida Grove and graduated from Ida Grove High School in 1964.  Following high school Kathy attended Colorado State College in Greeley, CO. 

On June 11, 1967 she and Lloyd Miller were married in Ida Grove.  Following their marriage they made their home in Ida Grove and Kathy worked for the Ida County Sheriff’s Department as a jailer and dispatcher.  In 2001 they moved to a home on Lake Shetek, near Tracy, MN. 

Kathy passed away on August 25, 2009 at the Sanford Tracy Medical Center Tracy, MN at the age of 63. 

Kathy was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Slayton, MN where she was active in the Dorcas Society. She was a former member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ida Grove where she taught Sunday school.  She also was a member of the Rainbow Girls group.  Kathy enjoyed spending time with her family, quilting, sewing, knitting, reading, gardening, music and bird watching. 

Survivors include her husband, Lloyd Miller of Tracy, MN, four children, Michael Miller of Chicago, Il, Stephanie Miller of Minneapolis, MN, Andrew Miller and his wife, Brenda of Ida Grove, IA, and Lucas Miller and his wife, Tiffany, of Ruthven, IA, five grandchildren, Robinson Miller, Samuel Miller, Caroline Miller, Maxwell Miller, and Ian Miller, two brothers, Michael Kinney of Idleyld Park, OR, and Robert Kinney and his wife, Judy of Knoxville, IA.  She is preceded in death by her parents, and infant son, William Miller.

The Totzke Funeral Home of Slayton handled the arrangements. To send condolences online visit 


Milton Moen, 84

Milton Milford Moen, 84 of Tracy passed away on July 19, 2009 at Sanford Hospital from complications following surgeries.

A memorial service for Milt will be held on Sept. 11, 2009 at 11 a.m. at Tracy Lutheran Church.

Arrangements are being held by Tracy Area Funeral Home.



Anita Weisbrich, 94

Anita H. Weisbrich age 94 of Tracy died Monday, August 24, 2009 at the Prairie View Healthcare Center in Tracy.  Funeral services were held Friday, August 28, 2009 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tracy.  Interment was in the Calvary Cemetery. The Almlie Funeral Home of Tracy handled the arrangements.

Anita Helena Weisbrich was born May 4, 1915 to Nicholas and Erna (Hannapal) Rolling in Armstrong, IA. She was baptized in Armstrong and confirmed in Tracy, MN. She attended Tracy Public Schools, before enrolling in the American School of Beauty in Minneapolis, MN. She owned and operated Anita’s Beauty Shop in Minneapolis, before moving to Balaton, MN and reopening her beauty shop there.

On August 26, 1940 Anita married Charles J. Weisbrich in Minneapolis at St. Charles of Borromeo. They made their home in Balaton for a short time and then moved to Tracy, MN. In Tracy, Anita worked in the Tracy Nursing Home, as an activity director, and a nurse’s aid.

She was a member of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tracy and active in the church women’s groups, alter guild, Rosary Society and Catholic Daughters of America. Anita was also an accomplished painter, enjoyed floral arranging, and traveling. She and her husband spent many winters in Apache Junction, AZ.

In 2005 Anita became a resident of the Prairie View Health Care Center in Tracy, where she died Monday, August 24, 2009 at the age of 94.

Anita is survived by her two sons, Gary (Kay) Weisbrich of Lamberton, MN and Terry (Shay) Weisbrich of Half Moon Bay, CA; three daughters, Mary Lou (Marty) Nelson of New Ulm, MN, Patti (Gary) Amundson of Pequot Lakes, MN and Debi (Todd) Pack of Bemidji, MN; sixteen grandchildren; twenty six great grandchildren; one great great granddaughter; one sister-in-law, Ann Rolling of Tracy, MN; nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Her husband, Charles, one son, John, one daughter, Janet Cyr, and three brothers, Harold, Herbie and Don Rolling preceded her in death.



Betty Ziemke, 81

Betty M. Ziemke age 81 of Tracy, MN died Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at the Prairie View Healthcare Center in Tracy.  Services will be 11:00 a.m. Friday, September 4, 2009 at Tracy Lutheran Church.  Visitation will be from 4:00 until 8:00 p.m. Thursday, September 3, 2009 at Almlie Funeral Home in Tracy, with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m.  Interment will be in the Tracy City Cemetery.  The Almlie Funeral Home of Tracy is handling the arrangements.   Online condolences may be placed at

Betty Mae Ziemke was born June 13, 1928 to Robert and Palma (Nybo) Thompson in Tracy, MN, Lyon County.  She was baptized on September 2, 1928 and confirmed on June 13, 1943 in Tracy.  She attended Tracy Public Schools and graduated from Tracy High School.  

In 1947 Betty married Arlo Ziemke at Faith Lutheran Church and they made their home in Tracy.  She worked at the Red Rooster Café and Tracy Hopital as a cook for many years.  After her husband’s death in 1974 she went to work for the Schott Corporation in Marshall, MN until she retired in 1991.

Both her church and community were very important to her.  Betty was a member of Tracy Lutheran Church and active in Hope Circle, WELCA and loved to take part in the ladies Do-Days at church, especially quilting.  She was a charter member of the Tracy Eagles Club, member of the Hoe and Hope Garden Club, past president of the Tracy American Legion Auxiliary, and a member of the Tracy VFW Auxiliary.  Betty was also an avid Minnesota Twins Fan, enjoyed knitting, crocheting, quilting, ceramics, playing cards, family gatherings at the lake cabin, and breaking into song in every situation.  Though there was much pain and suffering, and though there is strong grief, her memory is already cherished, for her unique, strong, pleasant, and humorous personality and spirit, continually brought happiness and fun to her family, friends, and all those who got to know her in the last few months of her life.  It is without a doubt to all, that her Christian faith extended her life beyond that given her.

In June of 2009 Betty became a resident of the Prairie View Healthcare Center in Tracy, where she died Wednesday, August 29, 2009 at the age of 81.

Betty is survived by her three daughters, Janet Hill of Faribault, MN, Koreen (Bill Roemer) Ziemke of Tracy, MN, Katherine Ziemke of Mound, MN; three sons, David Ziemke of Tracy, MN, William (Kris) Ziemke of Rosemount, MN and Arlo Jr. (Julie) Ziemke of Morristown, MN; eighteen grandchildren; three great grandchildren; three brothers, Jim (Rosemary) Thompson of Colman, SD, Ken (Jan) Ross of Colman, SD and Gary (Sally) Ross of Bozeman, MT; two sisters, Sharon (Vern) Jaacks of Colman, SD and Lucy (Francis) Wendell of Egan, SD; many nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Her parents, husband, Arlo, infant son, Darlo, two sons, Clayton and Robert, son-in-law, Jim Hill, and three brothers, Ron Ross, Richard Ross and John (Edith) Ross preceded her in death.