Wilma Heckel Grunewaldt

Wilma Heckel Grunewaldt


May 13, 1923 - September 8, 2023


Wilma Heckel Grunewaldt, 100, of Mitchell, formerly of Ethan, SD, passed into eternity Friday, September 8, 2023, at Firesteel Healthcare Center in Mitchell. Funeral services will be 10:30 AM Wednesday, September 20, at Harvest Community Church in Mitchell. Visitation will be one hour prior to the funeral service. Burial will be at Sunset Memorial Cemetery in Mitchell. Arrangements by Bittner Funeral Chapel.

Wilma Jean Hooker was born 13 May 1923 on the family farm in Plano Township, Hanson County, SD, the eldest of two children born to John Garland and Coral Winifred (Bayley) Hooker. She grew up on the farm and attended Plano Consolidated School from first grade through graduation. She had perfect attendance all twelve years! The school bus in those days was a horse-drawn wagon. Even when cars became available, the old horse-drawn buses were sometimes used when the muddy spring roads were impassable to motor vehicle traffic.

Growing up in South Dakota during the dust bowl days of the thirties was challenging, but the Hooker Family persevered through drought, grasshopper plagues, and low prices. Wilma learned lessons and skills she retained her entire life for growing and storing food, maintaining a large garden for feeding her family through the summers, and canning to ensure an adequate supply for the winters.

Wilma married Adam Heckel on 1 May 1942 in Plankinton, South Dakota. His farm was about five miles northeast of Ethan, and is where Adam and Wilma raised their five children: Leonard, Violet, Phyllis, Marlyn, and Janice. The virtues and values Wilma learned from her parents, and which were honed as she grew up on a farm during the dust bowl days, were instilled in her children. Faith was first and foremost, and the couple saw to it that their children attended church regularly.

Family was very important to Wilma, and it spilled over to her extended family as well. She had the heart of a servant and spent years behind the scenes preparing meals for weddings, funerals, potlucks, and family reunions. She arrived early and stayed late to make sure all was in order.

After Adam’s death in January 1985, Wilma married Walter Grunewaldt. They enjoyed managing campgrounds in South Dakota during the summer and camping in Tucson during the winter for many years. Their garden was a highlight of their summers. Walt passed away in August 2006. Wilma then lived independently in Ethan for several years and only recently moved to Firesteel Healthcare Center in Mitchell, where she resided until her death.

Grateful for sharing her life are her children: Leonard Heckel, Ethan; Violet (Don) Minnix, Garden Grove, CA; Marlyn (Rachel) Heckel, Mitchell; Janice (Kurt) Schuler, Wildomar, CA; stepchildren: Dale (Marlene), Mitchell; John (Janet), Sioux Falls; and Sharon (Corky) Richie, Mobridge; and a host of grandchildren, step-grandchildren, great-grandchildren, step-great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Wilma was preceded in death by her parents, her husbands, daughter Phyllis, and her younger brother Marvin.


Wednesday, September 20, 2023
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Harvest Community Church
1017 W Norway Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301


Wednesday, September 20, 2023
10:30 AM
Harvest Community Church
1017 W Norway Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301


Sunset Memorial Cemetery
Mitchell, SD

Posted by Linda Bortel Shaneyfelt on October 6, 2023
Wilma and my mom were cousins. I remember big family gatherings at Hitchcock park in Mitchell many years ago, and the family coming to our farm to pick apples. Leonard and Violet may remember. My condolences to the family.
Posted by Kim Sinkie DeWald on September 15, 2023
I was Wilma’s neighbor in Ethan for many years, loved visiting with her. Wilma loved her church and God, she invited me to church in the park. I rededicated my life to God on that weekend. Thank you Wima for the invite!!
Posted by Marilyn Hart on September 14, 2023
Sorry for the families loss. RIP I enjoyed our visits whenever we seen each one.
Posted by Gary and Mary Stadlman on September 14, 2023
To Wilma’s family, we send our condolences for your loss. Wilma was a very interesting, friendly woman. We had many visits at the Ethan PO through the years. She amazed me with her energy, good advice, humor and just being the wonderful person, that she was. Thank you for sharing her with us. God bless you all. Rest In Peace Wilma.
Posted by Kelly Tobin on September 13, 2023
Wilma was a dear friend to me and my mom. I loved hearing all of her stories about her life. We shared a love of gardening and I learned so much from her. What an amazing lady. My deepest sympathies to Leonard, Vi, Marlyn, Jan and all of her family.
Posted by Karen Madsen on September 13, 2023
Walter Grunewaldt was my husband's uncle. I enjoyed your mother so much. When they would come to stay with us she and I would have such good visits. She was a very special person. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Posted by Dennis and Joan Selfridge on September 13, 2023
You lived a wonderful life that has been passed on to your family. Thank you for your godly example
Posted by Carol Bowen Carstens on September 13, 2023
Marlin and Leonard, my deepest sympathy to you both! Your mom was a wonderful lady!!
Posted by Debra Hohn on September 12, 2023
My sincere sympathies.
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