Ilia Mae L. Wilhelmi, formerly of Nekoma, passed away in Arroyo Grande, Calif. on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.
Posted on 4/17/15
She was born in Oslo, Minn. to Herman and Inger Loff on July 26, 1923. When she was four years old the family relocated to Nekoma at which time her father, Herman, took a job with the Nekoma grain elevator, where he continued to work 20+ years. She was schooled in Nekoma and graduated from high school there in 1941. Shortly after the war broke out she took the train to Southern California where she found work making practice bombs for the war effort. Before the war, ended she returned to Nekoma, and upon the end of the war married Walter W. Wilhelmi, also from Nekoma, in January 1946. In December of 1947, at the then Mercy Hospital in Langdon, she gave birth to their only daughter, Susan. They lived on the Herman Loff farm in Nekoma until the summer of 1948 when they moved to Martin City, Mont., where Walter was employed as a construction worker on the Hungry Horse Dam. In 1950, with his job at the dam completed, they ventured out to southern California where they continued to reside for 33 years. In April 1955, their only son, Tom, was born. Even though she worked outside of the home during those 33 years, she still managed to drag Walter to the local Elks club for an evening of dinner and dancing where they were both active members. Dancing was a passion of hers and she often spoke of the dances ,she attended during her young life in Nekoma and the many fun times. In 1979 she and Walter retired and in 1983 moved to Sisters, Ore., where they lived for another 10 years. While in Sisters she tapped into a hidden talent of making pine needle baskets. She created many beautiful pieces that she gave to family and friends. Ilia Mae continued this craft until her hands became too crippled with arthritis. After growing weary of the colder winters Sisters offers they decided to seek a warmer climate, so in 1993 they bought a home in a newly constructed retirement community in Apache Junction, Ariz. However, within two years from their arrival in Apache Junction, Walter passed away from prostate cancer. She continued to be active in her immediate community while managing to take many trips to visit children and grandchildren who were scattered around the country. For the past four years she had resided in a retirement home in Arroyo Grande, Calif. where her son, Tom, and his wife, Lind,a live.
Preceding her in death was her brother, Wilfred, who died at six weeks of age; parents Herman and Inger (Kingsland) Loff; brother Bob Loff of Kalispell, Mont.; her husband, Walter W. Wilhelmi; brother Art Loff of Hungry Horse, Mont., and sister Inez (Bellerud) Cowan of Shelton, Wash.
Besides her son, Tom, and his wife, Linda, she leaves behind her daughter, Susan Cox, and her husband Dave, of Kalispell, Mont.; three grandchildren: Kristin Francis and her long time partner, Chris Appleton, of Boise, Idaho; Brian Francis and his wife, Tina, and one great grandson, Zane of Maui, Hiwaii, and granddaughter Brianne Wilhelmi of Hollywood, Calif., along with numerous nieces and nephews.
Her final resting place will be in the Willamette National Cemetery next to her husband Walter.