To live a fulfilled life is to live a life like Leona Elizabeth Louise Dora (Heidemann) Beethe. She lived every one of her 98 years, 5 months, and 8 days to the very fullest and treated her four children, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and their spouses and her 17 great-grandchildren as if they were all her favorite. She got a chuckle out of hearing them argue about who was truly the favorite and would simply grin when asked to give an answer.
She was born on April 12, 1924, to Ernest and Esther (Baucke) Heidemann, on the family farm near Elk Creek, Nebraska. Leona was baptized May 4, 1924, and confirmed March 21, 1932, both at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of rural Elk Creek. She attended Beethe School District 30-47 in Pawnee County through the eighth grade, graduating on June 1, 1938.
On August 3, 1944, Leona was united in marriage to Rayman Beethe at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. The couple would be blessed with four children: Karen, Keith, Nancy, and Arlin, and made their home on a farm in rural Elk Creek. Leona was a true farmer’s wife, running the household and raising the kids, but later in life she worked for several years at the grocery store in Tecumseh and also at the Maple Grove Home, south of Tecumseh.
She spent many summers with a large garden and continued having at least one tomato plant near the house when she could no longer keep a big garden. Summertime often included a house full of grandchildren, both her own and some extras, who were working 4-H calves and she enjoyed making lunches for them, including her famous fried chicken.
Time in her later years was passed by counting the number of birds outside her window, completing multiple word searches per day and embroidering quilt blocks so that each grandchild could have a quilt as a wedding gift.
Every year her birthday would be celebrated with the company of her family and one whiskey sour with the instruction “but don’t mix it too strong.”
Leona loved unconditionally, accepted everyone, and would give you the honest truth when you needed it. She had a sense of humor to be rivaled and could give a quick, witty response at any time. She loved playing cards with anyone that would stop by and was happy to get phone calls and visitors and always ended with “now you call me or visit me again sometime.”
On her final day before joining those in Heaven, Leona was surrounded by the overwhelming love of her family both present and at a distance, which is a testament to the legacy she leaves. She will be remembered as the best listener with a caring heart. For those who had the privilege of knowing Leona, she leaves behind many, many fond memories and will be deeply missed and forever loved.
On September 18, 2022, Leona was taken to the Pawnee Community Memorial Hospital in Pawnee City, it is there that she passed away a few days later on September 20, 2022. She was preceded in death by her parents Ernest and Esther Heidemann, husband Rayman, brothers Leland (Lola) Heidemann, Harley (June) Heidemann, sister Aloma (Eldon) Bradertscher, and several nephews.
Those left to remember her loving ways include her children Karen (Bob) Thompson of Colorado, Keith Beethe of Table Rock, Nancy (Pete) Eggers of Auburn, Arlin (Kim) Beethe of Elk Creek; grandchildren Bob (Patti) Thompson, Bill (Kelly) Thompson, Dave Thompson, Angie (Eric) Drake, Kevin (Carmen) Beethe, Kris (Matt) Castle, Lindsay (Matt) Tuxhorn, Spence (Ashley) Beethe, Lance (Lyndsay) Beethe, Erin (Tyler) Vock, Cole Beethe (Kaleigh); 17 great-grandchildren; other relatives and friends.
A funeral service will be held Saturday, September 24, 3:00 p.m., at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church rural Elk Creek. Burial will follow in the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Cemetery. Visitation will be on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Hemmingsen Funeral Home in Auburn. The family will greet friends on Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center at St. Peter’s Church rural Elk Creek.
Memorials are suggested to family choice.