Over 91 years, countless friends, multiple hearing aids, 3 children, 2 hips, 1 marriage and 1 unwavering relationship with God makes for a life worth celebrating. Sharon Weinel left this world surrounded by family on the morning February 8th after a brief battle with pneumonia.
Her quick smile and friendly demeanor always made people at ease no matter what their background or station in life. Likely, that is because Sharon herself had experienced it all. Sharon was born the daughter of a Norwegian farming couple in the Howard, South Dakota area—with siblings Udell, LeGorie, Andrina,(as well as Charles—who died as an infant). Coming from a hardscrabble, drought-stricken farm during the height of the depression—she was left without Cornelius, her father, when he passed away when Sharon was only 12. These experiences made it easy for Sharon to be grateful for small blessings.
Upon graduating high school in 1947 from Howard High School, Sharon enrolled at South Dakota State University but was not able to complete her degree. After a brief stay in California, she moved to the big city of Minneapolis. This led to a chance encounter with an errant football toss from a young engineer who attended the University of Minnesota. This was the seminal event leading to a marriage of 66 years to Jim Weinel—the love of her life.
The beginning of the marriage was not easy with three small children (John, Kristine, & Siri) and a spouse determined on starting his own business with no money in the bank. In 1963, Jim & Sharon started Gemini and this became their extended family. Sharon scrimped and saved but always managed to maintain a well-kept household. Patching was the method that defined the household: from tires on the car, the hardwood floors, to the children’s clothing. Throughout, Sharon maintained a warm smile and friendly demeanor—and always was generous to those who may have even had less than they did.
Her strong faith, work ethic and positive attitude pulled them through many tough times. They dealt with many adversities including the fledgling business burning to the ground in 1968. It is no wonder that Sharon became a critical piece of the fabric of the company and that it continued to prosper for many years. Her Christian values of humility, graciousness and generosity left a mark on many lives.
Although Sharon was very unassuming at first glance, she had many talents beyond being a wife, mother, and grandmother. She went back to school at age 55 and completed her degree at Metropolitan State. Her powers of observation from years at company dinners and gatherings made her an invaluable judge of character for the benefit of the business. She worked every major library in the US and Canada to establish an industry leading prospect list. She had a memory like a steel trap and could remember everyone she met, the name of their spouse as well as their kids’ names to boot. These powers also rubbed off in her spare time as she was an expert at dominoes, card playing, crossword and other puzzles. Her patience, honed through years of adversity, also made her an excellent fisherman—often being able to land the big one that others simply couldn’t catch.
Although all who knew her will mourn, yet she would have been the first to say that her life should be celebrated— a long and wonderful story that started on the South Dakota plains some 91 years ago.
She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Jim; children, John (Ana) of Hastings, Kristine (Christopher) Diffley of Ft. Myers Beach, FL, and Siri (Fred) Oss of Naples, FL; grandchildren, Katie (Matt) Stolte, Michelle Weinel-Bagger (Brady), Jessica (Cody) Metz, Rebecca Weinel, Annie Weinel, Danielle Weinel, Joey and Billy Diffley, Lilly, Emma, and James Oss; and nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Cornelius and Bertha Eide; sisters, Andrina (Don) Pike and Udell (John) Mehl; brothers, infant Charles and LeGorie (Merlin) Eide.
Visitation will be held on Friday, February 11 from 4-7 pm at Lundberg Funeral Home, Cannon Falls.
The service will be live-streamed at www.centralmpls.org . A celebration of Sharon’s life will be on Saturday, February 12 at 11am, with visitation from 10-11am, at Central Lutheran Church, 333 S. 12th St., Minneapolis.
Active pallbearers will be her grandchildren.
Interment will be on Monday, February 14 at 10:45am at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.