Throughout her rich and rewarding life, Leola Lillian Hinckley was a blessing in the lives of everyone she met. She was a tender nurturer at heart who lived to love others in ways both great and small. Leola treasured her roles as a wife and mother, but she just might have argued that becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother was her richest reward. Even when she faced trials, her strength and resolve never wavered. Life will never be the same without Leola here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
It was great to be an American during the decade that we recall as the Roaring Twenties. Jazz music, ballroom dancing, and motion pictures in both color and sound were all part of the vibrant cultural fabric of the times. With new technology and innovation, prosperity was largely felt nationwide. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1928 when Gustav and Clara (Schuchard) Ihrke were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Leola Lillian in Quincy Township, Olmsted County, Minnesota, on September 8th. She was the first daughter to be born in a family of 15 children to be raised on the family farm and was "Sis" to her siblings. As a girl, Leola's clothes were made from flour sacks, and she took baths in the chicken trough. She was so thankful to receive a doll with a china face, and when her brothers were caught playing catch with it and broke it, they were chewed out by their grandfather in German and got into quite a bit of trouble with their father. Leola was a worrier by nature, and it started with her younger siblings. She helped care for them, and although she was usually in the house working she would have loved to have been outside. They made bread every other day, 13 loaves in all. Kneading bread was her job it usually made tears come to her eyes and it made her knuckles ache by the time she was done. She attended local schools and was proud to graduate from Dover High School.
New and exciting changes were in store for Leola when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was Robert "Bob" Hinckley, and they met at a dance at the Woodman's Club. He was "handsome, wore a cowboy hat, leather jacket" and Leola was smitten right from the start. She even said, "I'm gonna marry that guy someday." She proved to be right as Leola and Bob exchanged their vows on April 2, 1948, at St. Charles United Methodist Church. Together they made their home on the Hinckley family farm, and they welcomed four children including David, Dale, Dawn, and Denise into their hearts and home. Leola took her roles as a wife, mother, and homemaker to heart, and she ran a tight ship at home. She was a perfectionist at housekeeping, and in their home the vacuum was always out. Leola liked cooking and was especially known for her delicious potato salad, Thanksgiving dressing, oyster stew, and liver and onions. Around home Leola enjoyed spending time in her flower gardens and picking up sticks around the yard.
In addition to caring for her family, Leola kept busy in other ways. She worked cleaning houses for several years, and she later worked as a cook at Whitewater Healthcare Center in St. Charles. Leola has been called a professional refrigerator cleaner as she would clean the refrigerator when at someone's house without being asked. She was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandmother, and spending time with her grandchildren was a highlight. Leola liked keeping up on everything her grandchildren were doing, and she had shoe boxes of newspaper clippings detailing their accomplishments. Having wiener roasts with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was a favorite, and they always knew there would be a chocolate candy dish on the table. When a new grandchild was born, Leola was the one who would show the parents how to take care of a baby. She enjoyed dancing and playing cards, and although she never learned how to drive a lawnmower she always said that she could have. Within her community, Leola belonged to St. Charles United Methodist Church and its U.M.W. She was a genuine nurturer who tenderly cared for both her mother and father-in-law in their home until they passed away. When her grandchildren were sick, Leola brought them 7UP and jello and took care of them. It has also been said that jello was her cure for everything. She liked fish fries, taking road trips, going to Mauers in Elba to meet relatives and eating at supper clubs. Leola enjoyed driving with Dave, Cheryl and their families on trips, with her favorite being going up to Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Canada after Bob's death.
All who knew Leola Hinckley would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. It was easy to see if she was excited because her voice would get higher, and she was more than willing to help others in any way she could. Hardworking and genuine, Leola gave everything her all. She never complained when things were tough, even when dealing with her own health struggles. Deeply loved, Leola will be forever missed.
Leola L. Hinckley, of rural Utica, died Tuesday, November 28, 2017, at Seasons Hospice in Rochester. Leola's family includes her four children, David (Cheryl) Hinckley of St. Charles, Dale (Marlys) Hinckley of Chatfield, Dawn (Steve) Sommer of Lewiston, and Denise (Gary) Pagel of Chatfield; 12 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; five siblings, Delmer (Mary Jane) Ihrke, Gene (Fern) Ihrke, Gus (Marilyn) Ihrke, Shirley (Bill) Loppnow, and Lorry (Irvin) Hohmann; sister-in-law, Mary Ihrke; and many nieces and nephews. Leola was preceded in death by her husband Bob in 2002 siblings, Beryl Ihrke, George (Marge) Ihrke, Ellsworth (Francis) Ihrke, Melvin Ihrke, Robert (Ruby) Ihrke, Vernon (Yvonne) Ihrke, Joy (Allen) Kieffer, Elaine (Dick) Sanders, and Arley Ihrke. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Charles United Methodist Church with the Reverend Heather E. Klason officiating. Burial will follow in Hillside Cemetery. Friends may call at St. Charles United Methodist Church from 5-8 p.m. Friday and one hour before services Saturday. Pallbearers will be; Ross Hinckley, Matt Hinckley, Chad Sommer, Alicia Sommer, Holly Thompson and Brandon Pagel. Honorary pallbearers will be; Heidi Meier, Sarah Kleven, Paula Bauer, Adam Hinckley, Taylor Pagel and Chris Pagel. Please share a memory of Leola at her online guestbook and view her video tribute at www.hofffuneral.com. Hoff Funeral Service of St. Charles is assisting the family with arrangements
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