Ione Wirth

Born: August 31, 1925
Died: August 5, 2018

Ione S. (Tillema) Wirth, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend died Sunday, August 5, 2018, at Touchmark at All Saints. Memorial Services will be 11:00 a.m., Friday, August 10, 2018, at Hope Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. Per Ione’s wishes immediate family and close friends will meet Friday at George Boom Funeral Home at 9:30 a.m. to process to Woodlawn Cemetery for a 10:00 a.m. Graveside Service, prior to the Memorial Service at Hope Lutheran Church. Visitation with family present to greet friends will be from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., Thursday, August 9, 2018, at George Boom Funeral Home & Crematory, Sioux Falls. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Hope Lutheran Church, the Saint Francis House, or to a charity of your choice.

Ione was born in Willmar, Minnesota, on August 31, 1925, to Ellen (Skaalrud) and Christ Christensen. She moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when she was in elementary school and stayed throughout her life, graduating from Washington High School in 1943. 
Ione was passionate about Sioux Falls and was a one-woman “Chamber of Commerce,” reminding people that Sioux Falls was not just a great place to live … it was the best place. 

She campaigned to keep neighborhood pools when she was in her 80’s, completing a task that began in the early 60’s when she tried valiantly to keep our city pools free. And throughout her life she could be found at the forefront of ‘whatever needed to be done’—driving for “Meals on Wheels”, chairing the Hope Lutheran Church Bazaar, and serving meals at the St. Francis House. 

Ione loved to travel and in recent years was able to visit England, Denmark (birthplace of her father) and Norway. She still held out hopes of a trip to Italy and Egypt but alas, that was not to be. Perhaps her favorite trips were to see her children, who were scattered everywhere, to her cousins in Minnesota and to wherever the “girls’ weekends” would take her with her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughter. 

Ione enjoyed life and found it all to be an adventure, whether walking in a snowstorm in New York City, flying to Las Vegas for a Michael Buble concert, or playing cards with long-time friends. Ione loved to dance and was the belle of the ball at her grandchildren’s and nieces’ and nephews’ weddings. Her birthdays were celebrations of life but not of age … because Ione didn’t recognize age. When her children had long sat out the dance, Ione was still dancing the night away. 

Ione was preceded in death by her husband, Donald C. Tillema, who died in 1970, after sharing 26 years of marriage. She then married Lyle Wirth, who preceded her in death in 2001, after 29 years of marriage. She was blessed in marriage by two loving and caring men. She was also preceded in death by her parents, her sisters Vida Christensen Burbank and Dorothy Christensen Emmons, and her beloved brother Steven, who shared the Denmark adventure with her. She was also preceded in death by her daughter-in-law Debra Tillema, her stepson, Michael Wirth, and her stepdaughter, Diane Woodke. 

Ione will be missed by all who met her because everyone who met her became her friend. She will particularly be missed by her children, whom she taught how to laugh at adversity, how to help those who need it the most, how to treasure friendship, and how to find joy in life. Her children include: Christine (Robert) Denicola, Scott Tillema, Suzanne (Mike) Evans, Mark (Jayne) Tillema, Catherine (John) Allan; and her stepchildren, John (Gail) Wirth, Nancy (Dick) Walker, and Marie (Rick) Kivela. 

She will also be missed by her grandchildren: Rebecca (Brian) Graber Tolrud; Nathan (Kristen) Graber; Camille Walker; Courtney (Jon) White Prebish; Alex Seddon; Ian (Jenny) Boe; Ashley Walker; Sean Boe; Hannah (Geoff) Wirth Worrell; Samuel Felton; Sarah Tillema; Logan Tillema; Bonnie (Joao Da Rosa) Wirth; Lucy Felton; and, Rachel Tillema. She kept pictures of her great-grandchildren, Rory , Sabrina, Aaron, Jacob, Ava, Sean, and Hunter close to her so she could greet them each day. In addition, she will be mourned by her sister-in-law Mary Christensen, her many cousins, especially Diane and Sheldon Hovda; her nieces and nephews, and her countless friends who were like family to her, including Betty and Willie Jernigan, Nancy Coleman, Joe and Val Fee, and Shirley Hawks.