Violet Lydia Whalen, 92
February 17, 1928 – June 1, 2020
Sometimes, when a heart is so loving; a soul is so kind; and a spirit is so gentle, even 92 years seems not nearly long enough for people to be blessed by your life. So it is, with our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend, Violet Lydia Whalen, who passed away June 1, 2020. She was surrounded by her loving family and her faithfuldog and companion, Hubert.
Violet was the third of six children born to Gottlieb and Christina Buchfinkon February 17, 1928 in Streeter, North Dakota.The family’s first home was built with stone and sod, and while days on the farm started at 4 a.m. and ended around midnight, Violet loved nothing more than to steal quiet moments to sit in its deep window wells as warm rays of sunshine provided heat and light for reading. Long days were spent raising turkeys, ducks, chickens, horses and geese; herding cattle; and working the fields. Her strong work ethic was an innate part of who she was.
Violet loved learning, and she attended a country school for much of her education. Walking miles in North Dakota snowstorms to get to and from school was not a favorite activity, but such realities helped shape her strength, fortitude and determination. She graduated from Streeter High School in 1944, at the age of 16. Even as a teenager, Violet had a special “twinkle in her eye”, as was evident when she and a few friends took a “Senior Skip Day” shortly before their graduation day. As penalty, theydid not receive their diplomas on their special day. They received them weeks later after being required to read “The Conquerer” and write an essayon lessons learned.Even decades later, when asked if the skip day was worth it, her eyes would twinkle and she would quietly say, “Oh, yes.”
In 1945, when the teacher of the one-room schoolhouse she had attended as a child was drafted into World War II, the School Board requested she take the State Teacher’s Examination, which she aced. She loved teaching,but on her 18th birthday, she moved to Bismarck, North Dakota. It is there she met and married Walter Flemmer on October 16, 1949. Together, they raised five children: Karen Kay; Karla Rae; Kathy Mae; Kristie Faye; and Kent Jay. When asked if she had a favorite, she would say, “Well, after four girls, having a boy was pretty special.”
Violet worked hard all her life, always seeking advancement to help better provide for her family. She worked as Secretary to the Adjutant General in the National Guard and then began work with Selective Service. Eventually, she was employed with the Postal Service. While there, she advanced through numerous positions, working her way to becoming the Director of Human Resources – the highest level reached by any woman working in the Bismarck Postal Service at the time. Throughout her professional life, Violet was required to take numerous advancement examinations. Raising five children; studying; and working full-time were not easy, but she mastered each area of her life with love, grace, and an inner strength that uplifted and strengthened all those around her.
Violet retired to the family cabin on Webb Lake near Hackensack, MN in 1990. She spent many hours working on stained glass; planting flowers; cooking and baking; reading; and volunteering through her church and in her community. Every Fall, until his passing in 2019, she lovingly helped her beloved brother, “Bud” and sister-in-law, Bettie, can vegetables, make sauerkraut, and juice tomatoes from the bounty of their garden. She always looked forward to serving as Chief Cook for her dear friends Gary Huberty and Paul Miller during their annual hunting camps.
To Violet, everywhere she went was “her community”, and every person was her friend. As her family, we hear, often, that she was “the firstperson to welcome me, even though I was a stranger”; “cook me a meal”; or “care for me as I suffered an illness or setback”. None of us will ever know the countless people she helped, and that is by her own loving, humbledesign.
Violet had a special knack, throughout her 92 years, of finding lucky pennies. Each one was tucked away with a special wish for those she loved. Life was not always easy, but no matter how challenging things became, she always relied on her faith and, with a twinkle in her eye, never gave up looking for and finding those lucky pennies.
Violet’s faith in God was at the very core of her being, and she served Him and others humbly and with the greatest compassion and kindness. Her love and devotion were never more evident than when she cared for her ailing mother; her father; her beloved Aunt Bette; her sister-in-law, Ruthie; her youngest daughter, Kristie; and her son-in-law, Greg Becker.
In lieu of flowers and memorials, Violet would ask that on any given day, in any given corner of the world where you find yourselves, you carry forward her innate desire and ability to help others, by doing the same.
“When you love you should not say, ‘God is in my heart,’ but rather, ‘I am in the heart of God.’
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
A private memorial service and burial will be held for family at the Sunne Lutheran Church in Wilton, ND on Saturday, June 13 at 2:00 p.m. Face masks are required. The service will be live-streamed @sunnelutheran.orgor facebook.com/sunnelutheran.
Violet is survived by: Children: Karen Clibourn (Doug Patten), Karla Becker, Kathy Adams (Rick), and Kent Flemmer (Erin McCawley); and Stacey Field. Grandchildren: Jonathan Adams; Kristen Hesseling; Dr. Cleantus Jean, Jr.; Michael Becker (Susan); Matthew Becker (Courtney); Missy (Matt) McLeod; Chelsey (Christopher) Ternes; Ivy Flemmer; Ali (Mark) Bergstrom; Amanda Filiowich (Ryan); Aaron Patten; and Amber Patten. 18 Great-grandchildren.Siblings: Ellenora(Mel) Jensen; Verna Eberhart; Naomi (Don) Dixon; Geraldine (David) Gallagher; and sister-in-law Bettie Buchfink. She is preceded in death by her daughter, Kristie;son-in-law, Ken Jennings; brother LaRue Buchfink; and son-in-law, Gregory Becker.