DeDe Wolter Daehnke passed away peacefully on December 8, 2022. She was surrounded by family and friends during the last week of her earthly life, sharing stories that filled the room with more laughter than tears. No words were left unspoken, and she died in the same manner in which she lived: with dignity and grace.
DeDe was born May 23, 1931 in Spencer, Nebraska to Rev. August and Ruth (Juergensen) Wolter. DeDe was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran church, and spent a joyous childhood playing with her siblings in the pastures of Venus, Nebraska. After graduating from Cedar Bluffs High School at the age of 16, she enrolled in summer courses at Midland College in Fremont. She was only 17 when she started her first job as a K-8 teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Nebraska.
DeDe first met Harold Daehnke through family, but they didn’t begin dating until two years later during a church function. She was only 19 when they married, but their common values of faith, family, and service made them a perfect match. Harold and DeDe cherished one another for all 52 years of their marriage, and beyond. Their home was a happy one, filled with six beautiful children, nieces, nephews, and eventually grandchildren as well.
Harold and DeDe were charter members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, a second home in their hearts. DeDe spent Sundays in the pews of her church, belting out hymns loudly and proudly. Her faith was unwavering, unconditional, and inspirational. She was a member of the altar guild and choir; she taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School; and she served at the church’s district level in several offices.
DeDe’s favorite job was as a stay-at-home mom to her six children, but over the years she worked in many other capacities as well. She was a teacher, switchboard operator, lunch lady, teen mentor, hospital volunteer, and served on the local election board. She was also involved in her children’s activities, such as 4H and baseball. Later in life she spent ten years as a loving, patient caretaker for Harold after he suffered a stroke.
DeDe was the matriarch of a large family. She had an extraordinary memory for dates and details, and kept family stories alive for future generations. DeDe never knew a stranger, and she was always eager to chat in grocery store aisles, at the mailbox, or after church services. While she loved to talk, she was an equally good listener who was accepting of all. She never left the house without her coordinated jewelry or large purse, which miraculously contained contents to mend or soothe any problems those around her encountered.
DeDe’s hands were never idle. When they weren’t clasped in prayer, they were likely writing birthday cards or creating handmade heirlooms. She quilted, cross-stitched, and crocheted hundreds of graduation, wedding, and baby gifts over the years. She was also a golfer, card shark, and avid birdwatcher. Feisty and fun, DeDe was always up for an adventure. She had a sharp mind and quick wit, and never lost her sense of humor.
DeDe was 17 when she taught her first lesson in a one-room schoolhouse, and 91 when she taught her last in a one-room apartment. It was there that she reunited her family and showed them the glorious freedom that comes with faith, before fearlessly crossing to her next adventure.
DeDe was preceded in death by her parents; husband Harold; sister Muriel Wolter; sister Betty Gay and brother-in-law Jess Gay; brother Kenny Wolter and sister-in-law Sherry Wolter; nephew Ray Gay; and niece Joyce Copley, who lived with Harold and DeDe for several years.
DeDe is survived by her six children, 11 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren in addition to many extended family members and lifelong friends. Her children are Mic (Deb) Daehnke of Wayne, NE and their children Hailey and Casey; Becky (John) Quigley of Nickerson, NE and their children Staci, Tyson, and Elle; Jeff Daehnke of Cave Creek, AZ and his children Kalei, Lealanei, and Annaka; Gwen Daehnke of Cave Creek, AZ; Joel Daehnke of Greeley, CO (Carla Daehnke of Mead, CO) and their children Sarah, Laura, and Mollie; and Jon (Amy Lonetree) Daehnke of Santa Cruz, CA. Her surviving niece is Rhonda Gay of Raleigh, NC and surviving nephew is Ron Gay of Casper, WY.
A celebration of DeDe’s life will be held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at 11:00 on Tuesday, December 13, 2022.
Visitation will be held prior to the service from 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM on December 13th. A luncheon will follow the service.
In honor of DeDe, please say a prayer for a loved one and share a story that makes you smile. In lieu of flowers or plants, donations can be given in DeDe’s name to support Good Shepherd’s Live Stream subscription service, which was a lifeline for DeDe in her final years. Other charities that were dear to her heart were the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and Orphan Grain Train.
Moser Memorial Chapel, 2170 N. Somers Ave. Fremont, NE 68025 402-721-4490.
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