Cleone Willert


Cleone WillertCleone I. Willert age 89 of Tyler, formerly of Lake Benton, passed away Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at Sunrise Manor Nursing Home in Tyler.  Funeral services will be 1:00 p.m. Saturday, February 11, 2017 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lake Benton.  Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at church.  Burial is in St. John’s Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, rural Verdi.  Stephens Funeral Service – Tyler Area Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Cleone Isabell Willert was born to Anton and Lillian (Christensen) Brinkman on April 5, 1927 at Pipestone, Minnesota.  She was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith.  As a child Cleone moved with her parents to different farms and attended country schools.  In 1941, they moved to a farm west of Lake Benton where Cleone attended country school and later graduated from Lake Benton High School in 1945.  She worked at the Fairway Market under the management of Ernest Geineart.  On November 12, 1947, Cleone was united in marriage to Merril Willert at Immanuel Lutheran Church near Verdi by Rev. A. H. Birner.  To this union, one son was born, Robert Lee.  Cleone was active in the church; she taught Sunday School, Bible School, and served in different offices of the Ladies’ Aid.  After the closing of Immanuel Lutheran Church, she became a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lake Benton where she was a member of Ladies’ Aid and served in various offices.  Cleone was secretary of the Verdi School PTA, belonged to a sewing club and birthday club.  She enjoyed her home, family, friends, and relatives; they were her pride and joy in life.  She was a loving, kind-hearted mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  Cleone was always willing to help anyone in a time of need.  Merril and Cleone resided on the same farm west of Lake Benton from 1947 until Merril’s death in 2007.  Following his death, Cleone moved to an apartment in Lake Benton, and later became a resident of Sunrise Manor in Tyler.

Cleone is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Carolyn (Schlapkohl) Willert of Brookings, SD; grandson Travis (Tiffany) Willert; and 3 granddaughters: Gabrielle, Trinity, and Emma.  She was a godmother to 7 children: Steven Johnson of Lake Benton, Debra (Brinkman) Hulsebus of Texas, Leeann (Brinkman) Currey of Watertown, SD, Terry (Brinkman) Christianson of Aurora, SD, Donna (Anderson) Rankin of St. James, MN, Lori (Willert) Henkel of Balaton, MN, and Audra (Grenz) Hardesty of Rapid City, SD.  Cleone was preceded in death by her parents, husband Merril, sister Lila Biever, and 3 brothers: Carl, Darwin and Eddie Brinkman.


  1. Kerry Willert says

    My condolences to the family. Both Merrill and Cleone were so very kind and loving to me throughout the years. I was truly blessed by their presence.

  2. LouRene Lahey Nelson says

    Robert, Carolyn and family–so sorry for the loss of your Mom and Grandma. Our families go back many years. We are out of town so won’t able to come but you are in our thoughts. I loved the whipped cream your Mom always made!

  3. Audra (Grenz) Hardesty says

    So sorry to hear of Cleone’s passing. Cleone and Merrill were very good Godparents. I will miss them both very much. I’m sorry I couldn’t attend the funeral. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. May she Rest In Peace. She was a sweet soul. My mother Miriam Erschens Nielsen was best friends with Cleone. Even though my mother lived in CA she would visit her MN family each summer and always had a visit with Cleone. I too got to visit on several occasions. They used to laugh a lot when they got together. Cleone and I exchanged Christmas cards -each year for many years after my mothers passing in 1996. Blessings to your family at this difficult time.

  5. Kristie Willert Wildung says

    Robert, Carolyn and family — As close neighbors, relatives and friends, Merrill and Cleone meant the world to me! I remember them helping me when I had my first car accident as a teenager and visiting regularly to buy eggs (practice driving)! They were so loving, kind and such role models! Most of all I cherish the faith in our Lord and Savior they shared! Two very special people in my life that will never be forgotten! My sympathies to each of you!

  6. Susan Honken says

    Robert and Carolyn,
    My sympathy to you and your family. Mom enjoyed her visits and phone calls with your mom!
    Susan (Kruse) Honken

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