The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Wilma Darlene Kuhns

1932 to 2014

 

Wilma Darlene Kuhns, 82, of Sidney passed away Sept. 27 at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff.

Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m., Sat., Oct. 11, 2014 in the First United Methodist Church in Sidney with Rev. Thomas Hyde officiating. Inurnment will follow in the Greenwood Cemetery.

Cremation has taken place and there is no visitation at the funeral home. Friends who wish can sign Wilma's register book Friday at the Holechek Funeral Home in Sidney.

Memorials are suggested to the Sidney Public Library Foundation. The family also suggests that those attending the memorial service bring a new toy for Kyra's Kisses, an organization founded in honor of Wilma's great granddaughter, Kyra, who passed away this year after battling brain cancer. Kyra's Kisses distributes toys to children in area hospitals.

You can view the online obituary and share condolences with the family at http://www.holechekfuneralhomes.com

Wilma Darlene Mengers was born at home on May 25, 1932 in Hanover, Kan. to Antoinette Klataske and William Mengers. Not expected to live, she was placed in the oven to keep warm until the priest arrived. Even as a newborn, she showed a determination which would become a hallmark of her life.

Her parents moved to Alliance in 1933 and divorced soon after. On Christmas Day, 1939, her mother married Russell Eugene Rodgers, a conductor for the Burlington Railroad. He was a loving step-father who brought Wilma much joy. She often recalled the thrill of running to meet him when his train pulled in to the station and holding his hand as they walked home.

As a young girl in Alliance, Wilma attended St. Agnes Academy where she took part in school plays and sang despite suffering long periods of weakness, a result of polio as a toddler. After school she and her friends would walk down Box Butte Blvd to Thielle's for cherry cokes and potato chips. On July 18, 1948, while a sophomore at Alliance High School, she had her first date with Dean Kuhns, the man she would marry. As a young couple, they went for walks, ate hamburgers at Norma's Cafe and went to the movies on Saturday night. When Wilma was 16, her beloved step-father died and Dean was there to support her. He chose not to follow his family to Chicago, instead choosing to make a life with Wilma. They married on February 18, 1950.

Married life was full of friends, especially during the years they lived on Toluca Street in Alliance. There were summer choke-cherry wine nights, which included the scattering of 21 children running around the neighborhood. Wilma hosted card parties and bridal showers for her friends and was a member of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority. On weekends, the family would drive through the Black Hills, or go to a drive-in movie. By now, a mother of four children, she was an active leader in Blue Birds and 4-H. As the wife of a traveling salesman, she ran the household during the week, becoming just as creative in making May baskets and invitations for slumber parties, as she was in painting the house and rewiring the toaster. She was a very thoughtful and patient mother who believed there was no greater calling than raising her children.

In 1959 Wilma and Dean met Shirley and Bob Asher and the two couples would become life-long friends, as would their children. What followed were many happy Thanksgiving dinners, 4th of July fireworks, and camping trips with both families.

In the fall of 1962, the family moved to Sidney, Nebraska, where Wilma would meet her next great friend Charlotte Steffens over an incident involving squeaky tricycles. As her husband made preparations to start his own business, Wilma worked at Fine's Clothing. It was a job that she enjoyed as it combined her love of fashion and design with salesmanship. This would come in handy when Kuhns Wholesale became a reality.

In April, 1967, her life and that of her family was irrevocably changed when her husband became paralyzed in a car accident. There were many difficult years ahead, as little was known at that time about the effects of this type of injury on an individual or on the emotional trauma to a family. With five children to care for, the youngest only four years old, Wilma held her family together. With her trademark determination and Dean's commitment to begin again and to support his family, they became partners with their sons in Kuhns Wholesale. She also cared for other children in her home and worked in the nursery at the First United Methodist Church, as well as attended UMW Circle.

In the fall of 1984, she and Dean took off on a new adventure and moved to Aurora, Neb. to be near their friends Bob and Shirley Asher. Although they returned the following year to care for her mother and mother-in-law, they were very happy in Aurora. Wilma worked as the non-foods manager at the Red and White grocery, with her Asher family and took much pride in what she accomplished.

Back in Sidney, they became very active in the Elks. They catered the Wednesday Mexican food night and many other events. Wilma supported Dean in all his efforts and accomplishments within that organization leading to his role as Exalted Ruler.

Wilma volunteered at the Post Commander's Home and at the Sidney Visitor's Center, spending summers in the old caboose out on the highway, giving information to travelers. She worked for many years for Sidney Public Schools, most notably as a lunch lady at West Elementary School. She was a regular at the Coffee Corner with her group of friends, enjoyed walking the Sidney trail with her friend Coral, and began almost every morning with coffee and cake around Charlotte's kitchen table.

Wilma had a creative mind and was endlessly thinking of new ways to improve or redesign her home. She knitted, sewed, crocheted, canned, baked, gardened and always had a book nearby. She brought beauty and wonder into her children's lives, whether it was picking wildflowers, finding interesting rocks, or hanging chimes and crystals in her windows. Her eyes were open to the world and she shared it with her children. She loved rose quartz, the Nebraska sandhills and the smell of lodgepole pine.

Wilma was compassionate, generous, and never gave up on anyone, especially herself. She lived for ten years after the death of her husband, doing her very best to find meaning in her new life. In 2012, she celebrated her 80th birthday surrounded by nearly a hundred family and friends, her legacy. In her last years, she continued to show her determination as she struggled with the loss of her independence due to crippling osteoporosis. Giving up was not her style. Wilma passed away in the morning hours of Sept. 27, 2014, her favorite time of day.

She is preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Dean Kuhns, father William Mengers, mother Antoinette Rodgers, mother and father in-law Hilda and Harold J. Kuhns, great-granddaughter Kyra Eads, and friends Bob and Shirley Asher.

She is survived by her five children Connie Kuhns (David Wisdom) of Salt Spring Island, BC Canada, Stephen (Becky) Kuhns of Sidney, Richard (Donna) Kuhns of Sidney, Karen (Keith) Ellis of Lincoln, and Robert (Regina) Kuhns of Sidney ,; 13 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren, 6 step-great-grandchildren and other treasured family members and friends.

Holechek Funeral Home and Cremations in Sidney is serving the Kuhns family.

 

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