1938 Joe 2012

Joe Wilkening

April 19, 1938 — May 17, 2012

Joseph M. Wilkening

           A Celebration of Life for longtime Lamar resident, Joseph “Joe” Wilkening will be held at 2:00PM on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at the Peacock Family Chapel with Harold Bohls officiating.

            Visitation for Joe will be held on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 from 1:00PM until 6:00PM at the Peacock Family Chapel.

            Joseph Merle Wilkening (Lil Joe)  was born on April 19, 1938 at Lincoln, Nebraska to Walter and Ruth (Ruppecht) Wilkening and passed away on May 17, 2012 at his home in Lamar, with his family by his side at the age of 74.

Joe was an only child and grew up farming and ranching. At a young age, Joe began raising his own show steers. Joe reminisced about having owned 27 head of cattle and taking care of them all while attending school. He told stories of working the neighbors’ cattle as well as his own. He said that one year after the cattle branding and doctoring was done, his parents hosted a dinner for all the neighbors. His job at the dinner was to fetch beers for everyone and it entailed taking the caps off of all the bottles. He began taking a drink out of every bottle. The next morning his mother woke him up to go church and he told her he did not feel well. His mother immediately went to the phone and called the doctor who made a house call. His mother was furious when the doctor gave her the diagnosis of “hang-over”. Walter and Ruth raised Joe to be an independent, hard working person.

At the early age of 17, Joe enlisted in the Air Force. When it was discovered that he was not 18 yet, the Air Force called his mother to come in and she reluctantly signed for him to enlist. He served his tour with Flight 397. Joe was stationed in various locations while in the service and his favorite was Alaska. Recently, Joe was recognized for his service to his country by Hospice and he was very honored by the presentation.
Joe was very active after leaving the service. He held many jobs including training race horses and being a rodeo contestant. Joe rode barebacks and saddle broncs and it was even discovered that he was a rodeo clown at one point. Joe thoroughly enjoyed these activities and volunteered his time for many years running the starting gates at Gateway Downs in Holly.

In the late 50’s Joe moved to Prowers County. He drove a truck for TL Tucker and had many stories to tell about his experiences over the road. On August 16, 1962, Joe married Verda Garrison. The couple made their home in Lamar where Joe continued working for TL Tucker.

In January 1966, Joe was offered a temporary job working for Marvin Willhite. This job became permanent and the couple then made their home in Holly, CO. While living in Holly their children were born, Loretta in November 1966, Jim Bob in October 1967 and Roxanne in August 1971.

Joe spent many hours with his kids and their horses. The kids remember one particular summer when they got to spend the entire summer at home with Dad. He had had surgery on his ankle. After the first couple of weeks of bonding with him, they were ready for him to go back to work. This of course was not the case. One morning after he had gotten them up for some horse riding practice, he fell asleep in his lawn chair. The kids then quietly snuck away for a day of freedom, while he baked in the sun. His foot had gotten quite sunburned and he was furious with the kids for allowing this to happen.

Joe enjoyed watching his kids play sports and showing horses. He was very active in 4-H and was a leader for many years. He also spent many summers coaching baseball.

In August 1990, Joe and Verda moved back to Lamar where Joe was employed by Heath & Turpin & Sons. Joe had a special place in his heart for driving a truck and liked the open road.

Joe really loved to spend time with his grandkids and they were the light of his life. He and Verda often kept the kids overnight and he even changed a few diapers. After his grandkids were old enough to participate in sports and 4-H, you could find him at all their games and other events. His grandkids fondly remember that he always watched football and would get so upset with the Denver Broncos. They particularly remember that when he was upset with the Broncos that he would say “The Wiley Panthers could beat the Broncos!”

Joe never knew a stranger. His kids as well as his grandkids always stated that “You couldn’t go anywhere with Grandpa/Dad without him seeing someone he knew and having to talk to them forever!”

Joe was the type of person who would give his last dollar to a stranger if it would help them out. He will be sadly missed by his family and friends.

            He is preceded in death by his wife; Verda Wilkening and his parents.

            Joe is survived by his children; Loretta (Donnie) Marsh of Wiley, CO, James Robert Wilkening of Lakin, KS and Roxanne Wilkening of Great Bend, KS. He is also survived by his grandchildren; Joseph (Isabelle) Marsh, Krista (Cory) Gilbert and Bryan (Schuyler) Marsh, one great-grandchild; Haylie Marsh, as well as a host of friends.

            Memorial contributions may be made to the Lamar Area Hospice either direct or in care of the funeral home office.
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