Nellie E. Heffner BeilkeNellie E. Heffner Beilke, long time senior citizens advocate, died Friday, Aug. 19, 2011.
Nellie E. Heffner Beilke, long time senior citizens advocate, died Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, at the Golden Living Center in Superior, following a long, dedicated life of service to people.
She was born March 8, 1918, in Pine River, Wis., the first of 13 children born to Morse and Maude Heffner. Nellie grew up in the Cedar, Wis. area and attended school there. She married Lester Heffner on Aug. 14, 1933, in Hurley, Wis. They eventually moved to Ashland where she held various jobs and raised a family.
She was a waitress in the old Knight Hotel and later became head cook at Northland College. She received her G.E.D. and continued studies toward public service. She joined Northwest Community Action agency and received certification as a counselor of alcoholism and drugs. She continued her interest for the betterment of seniors and became director of Aging for Ashland County. Nellie was often referred to as “Mrs. Senior Citizen” because of the many beneficial programs that resulted because of her dedicated efforts. Among her most prized was the Ashland Senior Center, which housed all the aging unit programs. Through the years, she was instrumental in the establishment of many programs, including a four county Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and elderly and handicapped transportation services with the procurement of vans through grants by the DOT. She was responsible for the setting up of home delivered and congregate meals in both Ashland and Iron counties and also helped establish centers in Mellen, Glidden and Butternut, Wis., so people could receive services for seniors.
Nellie served on numerous boards and committees including three years on the executive board of the Fond du Lac Rural Training Inc. and three years on the State Office of Aging Advisory Committee. She served on the Aging Unit Board of Directors and its executive committee. She was a member of AARP, which she helped establish in Ashland, and A.R.C.
Nellie loved to help people and did so in her life work. She delighted in seeing people gain a better quality of life through programs she helped establish. She will be missed by many including her family, who were so proud of her accomplishments. She loved people, to play the accordion, grow flowers, read, cook and bake especially for her family. More recently she enjoyed watching and cheering for the Packers football team. She was always interested in community and world affairs, and loved to engage in conversations about them.
Nellie is survived by her children, Vila (Roland) Mashl, Raymondville, Texas, Judy (Jon) Pahos, Superior, Delores (Tom) Bloomquist, Green Bay, Wis., Lester Gene (Lori) Heffner, Superior, and Jenny Heffner, Superior; many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins; two sisters, Erma (Ted) Wiercinski, DePere and Lona Mead, Myrtle Creek, Ore.; a brother, Frank (Catherine) Heffner, Saxon, special friends, Walt and Aggie Schutte and a special helper, Darla Penny.
She was preceded in death by her husband Lester Heffner, her parents, a son Ronald Heffner, and brothers and sisters.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at Frost Home For Funerals in Ashland. Visitation will take place from 10-11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. After the service, a lunch will be served at the Zion Lutheran Church on 1111 11th Ave. W., Ashland. Inurnment will take place at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Edgewood Cemetery in Gurney. To view this obituary online, sign the guest book or express online condolences, visit bratleyfamilyfuneralhomes.com.
A special thank you to all the staff on Evergreen Lane, at Golden Living Center in Superior, and to Dr. Kirby for their wonderful care of Nellie. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund will be established in Nellie's name at the Challenge Center in Superior.