Jeanne A. Hilsman, 83

Jeanne A. Hilsman, age 83 of North Washington, died peacefully Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, surrounded by her family that she loved dearly at Linn Haven Rehab and Healthcare in New Hampton.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, January 3, 2020, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in North Washington with the Rev. Brian Dellaert celebrating the Mass. 

Interment will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery in North Washington.

Friends may greet the family from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, at the Hugeback- Johnson Funeral Home and Crematory in New Hampton where there will be a 4 p.m. Rosary and 7 p.m. Parish Scripture Service. Visitation continues an hour prior to the Mass at the church on Friday.
Jeanne Anne Hilsman was born June 10, 1936, at the home of her parents, Walter and Cecelia (Schupanitz) Mishak, in Alta Vista.

She was one of four children and grew up on a farm on which her family not only raised crops but also chickens, dairy cows, and horses. 

She received all her formal education at St. Williams Catholic School in Alta Vista, graduating with the Class of 1954.

After high school, Jeanne worked as a telephone operator in Alta Vista, and the switchboard — complete with her initials “JM” — that she used is on display at the Old Bradford Pioneer Museum in Nashua.

At the age of 15, she met her future husband at a local wedding dance where they danced all night and soon became a couple.  Four years later, five days shy of her 20th birthday, Jeanne and LeRoy were married on June 5, 1956, at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Alta Vista. 

Their family grew over the next nine years as Jeanne and LeRoy welcomed four sons — Robert in 1957, Richard in 1958, Roger in 1963 and Russell in 1965 — and the Hillsman boys cherish the memories of their childhood. The family first lived on a farm near Alta Vista before they moved to North Washington in 1967. 
Their family may not have been well-to-do, but it was abundantly rich when it came to love. As her sons put it, “She always put everyone else first.”

Jeanne was an outstanding cook. Her fried chicken and chicken soup are legendary in the Hilsman household, as were her chocolate cakes and chocolate-chip cookies. Nothing ever went to waste at the Hilsman home; leftovers were put into either Cool Whip or butter containers, and she could make “something out of nothing.”  Her brother, Gerald, was a longtime Chickasaw County sheriff’s deputy, and he always made sure he’d take his break in North Washington just so he could munch on a few of Jeanne’s cookies. 

She also loved her vegetable garden, canning and freezing food to be used over the long Iowa winters, as well as camping with her husband — first in a fold-down camper and then in a travel trailer. 

Jeanne also had an affinity for cardinals, and she collected hundreds of bird figurines. Put it this way: A visitor to Jeanne’s homes was always met by a “sea of red.”  And those visitors never left hungry. Her sons and friends would stop by her house and they’d tell her, “No, I just ate supper,” and she would reply, “OK, but let me make a sandwich for you.”

In 1978, the family built a new home on the north edge of North Washington.  Jeanne worked as a caretaker for an Alta Vista family and also began selling Fuller Brush products. She also helped LeRoy, who worked for the Chickasaw County Roads Department, with his scrap business. 

The couple that met at a wedding dance never stopped dancing, and Jeanne and LeRoy loved to polka and also enjoyed attending auctions. Jeanne also was an avid “word-search” player.

She handled tragedy with grace, and although the death of her son Richard in a 1979 car accident and the passing of her husband in 2011 hit her hard, she was strong for her family after both deaths. 

And Jeanne adored her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and they felt the same way about her. 

She and LeRoy were longtime members of the Moose Club in Charles City, the VFW in Alta Vista and Immaculate Conception Church in North Washington, where Jeanne was active in the Rosary Society.

Jeanne will be missed for many reasons — that fried chicken, those chocolate chip cookies, the hard candy that filled dishes around her house, just to name a few — but mostly her family and friends will miss her giving and loving spirit.

Survivors include three sons, Robert (Karen) Hilsman of New Hampton, Roger (Lisa) Hilsman of West Des Moines, and Russell (Becky) Hilsman of Mantorville, Minnesota; six grandchildren, Cody (Tomi) Hilsman of Las Vegas, Amber (Brandon) Bradley of Adel, Megan (Zach) Nosbisch of New Hampton, Alicia (Elvis) Mutapcic of Des Moines, Blake (Andrea) Hilsman of Dodge Center, Minnesota, and Ethan Hilsman of Mantorville, Minnesota; 10 great-grandchildren and one on the way; and one brother, Gerald (Marilee) Mishak of New Hampton.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, LeRoy in 2011; her son, Richard in 1979; and two sisters, Delores Felder and Marilyn Elenz.


New Hampton Tribune

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