HURON — Arlene Wessel, 89, of Huron, passed away Thursday, November 21, 2019, at Huron Regional Medical Center.
Her funeral service will be 10 a.m. Saturday, January 11, 2020, at the Riverview United Methodist Church.
Her visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, January 10, at the Riverview United Methodist Church, with her family present. A prayer service with a time of sharing will be held at 6 p.m. Friday evening, January 10.
Arlene Joyce (Hegg) Wessel was born on the Sanborn County family farm on November 10, 1930, to Howard and Amy (Trow) Hegg. Graduating from Huron High School in 1948 as a Salutatorian, Arlene earned a Teaching Certificate at Northern State College; and taught in a rural school in Clifton Township.
On December 26, 1949, she married Irving (Brownie) Wessel in Huron. She and Irving owned and operated a diversified farm of hay, crops, pastureland, raised Hereford cattle, chickens and had a farrow to finish hog operation. They retired in 2005.
Arlene was a wife, mother, grandmother and a true farm partner which included flower and vegetable gardens to feed her family year-round by canning, freezing food; sewing clothes for her family including coats; baking breads and her famous cinnamon rolls; running to town for repairs, doing chores and field work to farm and tax accounting. She also chauffeured 4 kids to many activities. Yet she still found time to be a 4-H leader, Sunday school teacher, American Cancer Society Clifton Township chairman as well as for Heart Association; sports enthusiast, running a concession stand for her husband’s amateur baseball team. As her children grew, her involvement and leadership roles included: secretary, public relations and ultimately president of the Beadle County Farm Bureau. She became the first woman Director of the South Dakota Farm Bureau – 1987 - 1995. She was the Farm Bureau representative to the Huron Area Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee for many years. She served as President and Director for the South Dakota State Beef Industry Council; member of CattleWomen; and member of AG in the Classroom. Arlene served as reporter, public relations and President of the Beadle County Republican Women. She served as its Secretary for many years until the end of 2016. She also served as Treasurer, Vice President and President of the South Dakota Federation of Republican Women. Arlene was elected as a delegate to the SD Republican Convention. She was a longtime member of the Owen Kunze Post American Legion Auxiliary. Arlene was appointed by Governor Mickelson to serve on the Governor’s River Cost Recovery Authority. She was a member of the Riverview United Methodist Church serving as Secretary to the Board of Trustees.
Arlene supported her husband with his position on the James River Water Development Board and the Oahe Conservancy Water District.
Arlene was named S.D. Farm Bureau Woman of Achievement 1986, S.D. Farm and Ranch Woman 1988; received the Ann Hunter Award for SD Farm Bureau Volunteer; the 1995 Lusk Award for Agriculture Contributions; and received the AAUW Award in agriculture. In 2014, Arlene was named Eminent Homemaker – 2014 by SDSU for lifetime of service and accomplishments for agriculture. She even won a baking contest. Arlene made birthdays and holidays special with her baking and cooking. She led her family in festive singing as she played the piano making family times together joyous and memorable.
When asked what was the key to her success serving on boards and committees, she responded with, “Listening! Listening is the most important part of communication; it is the foundation for resolving problems, to compromise and to keep moving forward.”
Arlene overcame her extreme shyness to become a master of time management to do so much, quietly break barriers and embrace change, without sacrificing principles and values. While her family is very proud of her leadership and accomplishments, Arlene was the family matriarch who instilled faith, a hard work ethic and values. Family was Arlene’s number one priority, loving her family along with friends and her community, generously and unconditionally. She rose above the Depression, tragedies, losses and health issues with grace – and always loving more. She gave others credit for her successes. She loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so much, She learned the computer to email at age 70 to keep in touch and unite family and friends.
In a testimony to Arlene & Irving, a friend wrote “The Wessels are a loving, caring, law abiding family; the first to help a friend, neighbor, or anybody in distress or need. Everything they have was obtained through hard work, sacrifice and saving.”
Blessed and grateful to be a part of Arlene’s inspiring, positive and loving life, we will miss her. Arlene is survived by three daughters, Katherine Trummer, Tenn., Sandra (Mark) Peters, Minn., and Laurie (Dave Fenske, S.D.) Fenske, Ariz.; a daughter-in-law, Teresa Wessel, S.D.; eight grandchildren, Mandy (Marty) Michalek, S.D., Ryan Trummer, Fla., Michelle (Britton) Garrett, Tenn., Nick (Kim) Peters, Okinawa, Japan, Alex (Meghan) Peters, Minn., Katelyn (Jeremy Pizinger) Peters, Minn., Max (Lea Zagorin) Fenske, N.C., and Alexandra Fenske, Ariz.; ten great-grandchildren, Garrett Wessel, Colton, Ryder and Tayzlee Michalek, Emma and Lilly Garrett, Claire and Emily Peters, Brady and Joanna Peters; a sister-in-law, Delores Wessel of S.D.; two step-brothers, Stewart (friend, Gloria Soulek) Fleming, S.D. and Harvie (Roberta) Fleming, Iowa; loving family physician and friend, Dr. Robert Hohm; many nieces; nephews; cousins; and many dear and cherished friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband of nearly 70 years, Irving Wessel October 28, 2019; parents, Amy and Howard Hegg; her only sister, Velma Raben; her son, Bruce Wessel; and grandson, Matthew Wessel.
The family extends heartfelt appreciation to special friend, Gail Brock and Hegg family for their gift of time and love; and to the amazing nurses and staff of SunQuest Health Care Center and Hospice for their professionalism and loving care for Arlene.
Memorials may be offered to Huron Regional Medical Center Hospice, Riverview Methodist Church, Farm Bureau Scholarship Program, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association or Craig Hospital (a traumatic brain and spinal cord injury rehab hospital in Englewood, Colorado).