Leona “Onie” Wilkins, age 89, of O’Neill, NE formerly of Hemingford, NE, died peacefully surrounded by her family on Friday, September 25, 2020 at Avera St. Anthony’s Hospital in O’Neill. Onie was born February 4, 1931 in Alliance, Nebraska to Mike and Mary Walters. She attended elementary school at District #40 east of Hemingford near her family’s farm and graduated valedictorian from St. Agnes Academy in Alliance. Following graduation, Onie attended Chadron State College receiving teacher certification. She taught for 9 years in various rural schools in Box Butte County and served on the State Teachers Association Board.
In 1959, she married Wayne Wilkins at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church and they had three daughters, Annette, Mary Pat, and Molly. Onie worked many years for the Superintendent at Hemingford High School. She later worked as the Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Liberal Arts at Chadron State College retiring in 2004.
Onie was a lifelong member of Hemingford St. Bridget’s parish and Altar Society. She served on the Parish Council and taught catechism classes. Her faith was a source of strength and joy. She was an example of Christ’s love and mercy. As leader of the Kute Kookies 4-H Club and member of the Box Butte County 4-H Council, Onie was active in many community service projects. She served as Executive Administrator of the Mari Sandoz Society while employed at CSC. Onie spent her final years in O’Neill, Nebraska, close to her family and grandchildren. Onie enjoyed cooking for her family, travel, gardening, and spending time outdoors in her yard. She will be fondly remembered as a loyal friend and a loving, supportive and caring mother and grandmother.
Onie is survived by her three daughters; Annette (Larry) Mitchell and their son, Michael Mitchell, all of Lincoln, NE, Mary Wilkins and Galen Houseman and their children, Ellen Houseman and Adam Houseman, all of Kalamazoo, MI, Molly (William) Jennings of O’Neill, NE, and their children, Nathaniel Jennings of Albion, MI and Chistopher Jennings of O’Neill; numerous nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents Mike and Mary Walters, her siblings Floyd Walters, Edward (Marian Lee) Walters, Alma (Patrick) Walsh, Mary Pat Walters, and John (Carol) Walters.
A Celebration of Life Mass will be held at a later time at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Hemingford with interment following at the Hemingford Cemetery. Memorials suggested to the Chadron State College Foundation. Biglin’s Mortuary of O’Neill is in charge of arrangements.