Wedel, Evelyn K., 95, passed away March 11, 2020 in Wichita, Kansas. Her zest for life, faith, generosity, loving heart and concern for everyone she met will be missed by many. Born September 2, 1924 in Eugene, Missouri to Clem and Rose (Bungart) Kempker, she was the eldest of six children. After graduating from high school at age 16, she obtained a teaching certificate from the Teachers College in Warrensburg, Missouri and served as a beloved teacher where she taught all 8 grades in one-room rural schools in the Eugene and Mary's Home, Missouri area. Her students continued to thank and acknowledge her throughout her life. In the summers during WWII when she wasn't teaching, she contributed to the war effort by working at the Pratt Whitney war plant in Kansas City where she met the love of her life, Herman J. "Woody" Wedel. They married May 20, 1946 in Mary’s Home.
In 1950 they moved to Des Moines, Iowa where Woody co-owned Iowa Jewelers Supply. Shortly after moving to Des Moines, the business suffered the loss of Woody's partner and Evelyn stepped in to help keep the business afloat. She and Woody built the business from a struggling watch parts house to a successful wholesale and retail regional tool business. Their customers became lifelong friends and they were well respected for their honesty, integrity and willingness to help their customers. After her husband's death in 2003, she continued to run the business until she retired in 2005 at age 80.
Evelyn loved her children and always wanted to be a stay-at-home mother but had to work. She suffered the disdain of society and a male-dominated industry at the time, but quickly proved her worth and became a resource to many. She was a pioneer role model for women who were just beginning to enter the workforce. When they had been in business 50 years, the Iowa Jeweler's Association held a special recognition reception to acknowledge Evelyn & Woody for their contributions to the jewelry industry. Both were also inducted into the Who’s Who of American Business and in 2013, she and Woody (he posthumously) were honored as the first inductees in the Iowa Jewelers Association Society of Fellows.
Evelyn moved to Wichita, Kansas in 2005 to be near her daughter. She quickly became an integral part of the community as her smile, generosity, and welcoming nature touched many. Evelyn had a generous heart and a helping hand to offer. She never knew a stranger and gave generously to those in need. She loved volunteering at the Church of the Magdalen as part of the Welcoming Committee as she loved to chat and welcome others. Even when Alzheimer’s started to affect her memory, she still loved chatting with others and making new friends. The staff at the Catholic Care Center, where she lived since 2013, were part of her family and she loved living there.
Her immediate and extended family were the highlight of her life. She is survived by her son, Steve (Lynn) Wedel of St. Louis, MO; daughter, Kathy (Ben) Herzog of Wichita, KS; her four beloved granddaughters: Lisa (Peter) Bogart, St. Louis; Sarah Herzog, Reston, VA; Megan (Eric) Burton, San Francisco, CA and Kate (Ian) Smith, New Haven, CT; great-grandchildren Barrett and Evelyn Bogart; two sisters, Betty Groose, Eugene, MO and Mary (Butch) Doerhoff, Trenton, MO; sisters in law, Rosemarie Kempker, Rosalie Glidewell (Arkansas) and her best friend and sister-in-law, Kathryn Kempker, Eugene, MO. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Woody, her parents, two brothers who were so special to her: Ronald and Clem, and a brother Harold who died in infancy.
Visitation will be held Monday, March 16th at 10:00 am at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Mary's Home, MO with a Mass of Christian Burial following at 11:00 am with internment in the church cemetery.
Memorials may be sent to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church or Cemetery, 274 Highway H, Eugene, MO 65032 or the Catholic Care Center, 6700 E 45th St N, Wichita, KS 67228.
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