Juliana “Julie” (Hugo) Wordekemper, 92, of West Point, peacefully passed away on Saturday evening, January 16, 2021 at St. Joseph’s Hillside Villa in West Point, NE. Funeral Mass will be 10:30am on Friday, January 22 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church with Rev. Steve Emanuel as celebrant. The funeral will be live streamed on the Stokely Funeral Home Facebook page at facebook.com/stokelyfuneralhome. Burial will be at St. Michael’s Cemetery with lunch following at the Nielsen Center. Visitation will be Thursday from 3:00pm to 7:00pm with a vigil service at 7:00pm at Stokely Funeral Home in West Point. Masks are recommended at the visitation and funeral and seating will be socially distanced by household. Memorials may be made to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Arrangements by Stokely Funeral Home.
Julie was the 6th of seven children born to Joseph George and Margaret (Hilz) Hugo in West Point on October 28, 1928. She was proud to have lived in the same house on East Sherman St. for 88 yrs. Even when dementia diminished her memory, she could always matter-of-factly state her address as “810 East Sherman St., West Point, NE 68788.” That home was purchased by her mom and dad from St. Mary Parish in about 1914 and moved to its present location to make room for a playground for Guardian Angels School. She was a 1946 graduate of Guardian Angels School and proudly attended every alumni reunion till she became a resident of West Point Living Center in 2016.
She had a couple of boyfriends–none serious–but it was a farm boy from St. Charles Township that eventually won her heart and she and John Wordekemper married on June 22, 1948 at St. Mary Church, West Point. A huge downpour the night before the wedding caused the creeks to swell and wash out many of the roads, almost preventing the groom and his relatives from attending the wedding. However, detouring through Beemer, the wedding took place as scheduled and they celebrated 57 years of married life until John died on August 12,2005.
John and Julie moved in with Julie’s parents where they raised their family of 6 boys. The little 3 bedroom house had one bathroom between eventually 9 people. Margaret (Joseph George died in 1955) in 1 bedroom, John & Julie and a baby in the 2nd bedroom and the rest of the boys in the 3rd bedroom. lt was cramped living but no one complained.
Julie inherited her mother’s social and gregarious nature as well as her joy in helping others. She enjoyed the company of friends and strangers. She and John would often go to dances in the area with Hubert & Josephine Brunsing and Joe & Eleanor Ulrich, play cards, enjoy a Sunday afternoon playing “pasture softball” at the Brunsing farm or hunting pheasants and squirrels or fishing. Family tradition brought the aunts/uncles and cousins to the house before and after Midnight Mass, Easter and Thanksgiving.
She was very proud of her Hugo heritage, and the family heating and plumbing business started by her grandfather in 1892. The business continues today with 4th and 5th generations working together. Julie would clean the showroom, tend the flowers, prepare snacks or meals for the workers, do the mail and help with inventory and other odd jobs.
At age 90 her mother required care beyond Julie’s ability and Margaret had to move into a nursing home. That was the beginning of Julie’s 30+ yrs. of volunteering at the West Point Living Center and St. Joseph Home. She enjoyed being around the elderly fixing their hair, mending clothing, helping with BINGO and other activities, preparing snacks and just visiting. She also volunteered for many years at the VFW food stand during the County Fair and helped Eleanor Ulrich prepare banquets for the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus. She was the “go to” when nieces needed a permanent or doll clothes.
She was very proud of her boys but ran a tight ship at home nonetheless. She kept them busy gardening, mowing lawns, shoveling snow and raking leaves for the elderly, cleaning the house every Saturday, doing the dishes and stirring up a double batch of oatmeal cookies by hand when they had too much mischief, helped keep them busy and out of trouble. But it also taught them responsibility, respect for elders and the value of hard work and service.
For the boys, hard work was balanced with baseball, ice skating at the city park or the homemade rink in the garden, sledding down the street, softball games with cousins and neighbors, apple fights across the street, catching June bugs and fireflies, playing “Army,” hide and seek, snowball fights, building dams in the street to catch melting snow…all under the watchful eye and pointed index finger knocking against the window to “behave!”
Julie could be stubborn, bullheaded, opinionated, stern and demanding but in her later years she mellowed and softened. She would have wanted a girl but she loved and wouldn’t trade her boys! As her dementia progressed a common mantra from her would be “Mary, Mary, Mary. Mary, Mary, Mary.” When pressed who this “Mary” was she’d say, “Mother Mary. l’m praying for my boys.”
She and John provided a happy home, not perfect. They did the best they could and their boys didn’t turn out too badly! The family thanks all those responsible for Julie’s care over the years.
She is survived by her sons: Dale (Bev) of Storm Lake, IA, Fr. Thomas, OSB of Assumption Abbey, Richardton, ND, Dennis (Cheryl) of West Point, Allan (Michele) of West Point, David (Barb) of Fremont, and daughter-in-law, Pam of West Point, NE; 15 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren living throughout the Midwest. She is also survived by her older sister, Jeanette Polzer of St. Joseph Hillside Villa in West Point and younger brother, Ambrose (Nora) Hugo of West Point.
Julie is preceded in death by her parents George (1955) and Margaret (1987);husband, John (2005); son, Donald (2014); and siblings, Paul (1988), Aelred (2007), Matthias (2008), Florence Schnur (2001); and brother-in-law, Henry Polzer (2015).