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Claudia Willhite, 89

Claudia Gertrude Willhite, 89, died April 1, 2014, at the home of her daughter, Janice Anderson, with her four children by her side. She would have been 90 years old on Easter Sunday.

Claudia, daughter of Andrew and Marie (Wall) Guenther, was born on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1924, on their farm southeast of Brandon. She was baptized at St. Anns Catholic Church, Brandon, and was confirmed into the Missouri Synod German Lutheran Church at Hoffman on April 3, 1944. She graduated salutatorian from Barrett High School on May 29, 1942.

After graduating from high school, Claudia worked at miscellaneous jobs in the area making $3 to $8 a week, and even went as far as the "Cities," where she worked as a nurses aide at the Deaconess Hospital.

During the Armistice Day Storm, she met the love of her life, Leonard Ora Willhite. They were married on September 20, 1943, at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hoffman, and made a life together in farming. They traveled extensively, spending many winters in Phoenix, Arizona, and they spent four years frequently driving back and forth to Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, where they owned a 10-acre apple orchard overlooking Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes.

Claudia belonged to the Ladies Aide and Homemakers. She busied herself over the years with many hobbies including sewing, painting, gardening, and family history research. She also volunteered several years as a Sunday school teacher and made posters to celebrate different seasons and events at Zion Lutheran Church in Hoffman.

Having a real heart for others, Claudia always had a kind word for everyone. She truly had the gift of hospitality, and no one left her home without at least lunch and a cup of coffee, whether you were a friend, neighbor or the repairman. Even while taking chemotherapy and radiation treatments after cancer surgery in 1993, she was always busy cheering up the other patients around her, always lending a loving ear to those who were hurting and fearful.

Claudia is survived by her children, Janice (Dennis) Anderson of Ashby, Leo Willhite of Rapid City, SD, Darlene (Doug Robinson) Willhite of Brooklyn Park, and Pamela (David) Watson of Mesa, AZ; 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Leonard; two sons, one in infancy, and son Allen; daughter-in-law, Charlene; sister, Andr Hartfiel; and two brothers, Gustavus and Phillip.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 5 at 10 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Hoffman.

Visitation is Friday, April 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Erickson-Smith Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service on Saturday at the church.

Burial will be at Zion Cemetery in Hoffman.

Arrangements are with Erickson-Smith Funeral Home in Hoffman;