Holly Beeman wrote this tribute about her mom, Winona “Nonie” Beeman, who died on June 16, 2023.
Nonie Blanche Beeman, my mom, was born October 29, 1922. She lived to the milestone age of one hundred and ½ years old . . . and it was important to Mom that I included the ½ year!
During her lifetime, Nonie wore many hats: daughter, sister, friend, aunt, neighbor, baker, Mom, wife, babysitter, outdoor girl, gardener, Sunday school teacher, animal lover, and many more. She took each of these seriously. But the hat she wore daily, was a servant of the Lord. Her faith never seemed to waver, and she lived to serve him each day. In a nutshell, she had more love than you could measure for her family and the Lord.
Mom’s fun-filled childhood and teenage years.
Mom was the last of six children born to Herbert and Nellie Kershner. Nonie’s father was a farmer and her mother was a former teacher.
In her early youth, Nonie played with her siblings Herb, Beryl, Madeline, Kenneth, and Inez on the family farm, located at the foot of the beautiful rolling hills of Richland Center, Wisconsin.
Nonie played with dolls, learned to play the pump organ, and guitar (it was a very musical family) and eventually learned to help with chores like milking the cows. She learned to cook and bake – skills that many of us would benefit from at some point in her lifetime.
For elementary school, she attended a one-room schoolhouse. I think she told us she “walked uphill” to get to school and to return home. Then, on to high school and graduation in Richland Center. During high school, she was a member of the Photography Club which probably explains the beloved endless books of photos she kept of family and friends.
Mom marries Dad and the family grows.
Nonie knew Maynard Beeman for some time before they began dating. After falling in love, they got married and moved to Rockford. Just as they were getting settled and starting a family, Maynard was called to serve in the European Theatre in WW2. Nonie moved back to Richland Center to be with her family and Kenny, the first of seven children, was born.
Maynard returned, and the war soon ended. The couple came back to Rockford to live and work. The family continued to grow with the births of Connie, JoAnne, Larry, Holly, Rick, and Randy. With seven kids to care for, Nonie managed to make daily home-cooked meals, but did really love it when TV dinners were invented! She took care of our home, kept us clean, sewed a lot of clothes, created awesome toys out of nothing, and sometimes- ok, maybe often- played referee between squabbling siblings. We were one lucky bunch of kids, even if we didn’t realize it at the time.
Mom and Dad return to the family farm in Wisconsin
In 1982, Nonie and Maynard retired and moved back to the Beeman homestead of Maynard’s youth. Not long after, grandbabies started coming to visit, followed by great-grandbabies, and, eventually, great-great grandbabies.
With a large farmhouse and 80 acres, there was room for everyone to visit and visit often! Friends, relatives, and “friends of friends” and a LOT of grandkids enjoyed time with Nonie and Maynard and had endless adventures playing and exploring in the surrounding woods and fields.
My family and extended family have so many memories of running free, playing croquet, picking apples, gathering morel mushrooms, riding the tractor and mower, and rescuing many “kitties” that were treated like royalty. Of course, we also navigated a few skunk visits and got poison ivy, more than once! Sometimes Nonie and Maynard drove us to shop at “Crazy Franks” where we could spend hours! We spent our evenings outside the house, by a bonfire, stargazing and telling stories.
One more important way we had fun was playing the card game, Skip-Bo! Nonie was a Skip-Bo “shark” and won most games, regardless of how hard we tried to beat her. Playing Skip-Bo was how Nonie helped her children and grandchildren learn to count! What a great time we had.
Then, when it was time to leave, usually on a Sunday, Nonie prepared her famous “Nonie Chicken & Noodles” and pies for dessert. She would come outside and wave goodbye until she could no longer see our car. Then, back inside the house to wash the dishes from lunch. Nonie never let us wash the dishes before we left, because she said, “I’ll need something to occupy my mind once everyone is gone and the house is quiet.”
During the years on the family farm, Nonie lost her beloved Maynard, daughter Joanne, and great granddaughter Angel. Nonie, the strong woman she was, pulled up her bootstraps and lived by herself on the farm. She continued sharing her life and the farm she loved so much with family and friends who visited regularly!
Mom comes back to Rockford
When Nonie’s eyes and ears were really failing her, it was time to relocate back to Rockford where she moved into Crimson Pointe Assisted Living, now Cedarhurst Senior Living.
Reluctantly, but not quite “kicking and screaming,” she made the move. Once settled, Nonie found many new friends and really enjoyed her new home. She spent many days walking around the grounds, enjoying the fresh air or chatting with her new friends. Nothing pleased her more than a visit from family and friends.
During her time in assisted living, more of Nonie’s friends and family passed away, including son Kenny and great grandson Alex. Nonie was last surviving sibling or spouse from either her or Maynard’s side of the family. It must have been an odd feeling, but Nonie did not let it get her down. Every day she prayed for family and friends, plus others, who needed comfort and prayers. Her faith was as strong as ever. Often Nonie mentioned that she did not know why God kept her here, as she was ready to meet him, but was still very happy to be in our lives here on earth.
Nonie is missed so much by family and friends, but we know she is in the arms of the Lord and giving those sweet Nonie hugs to those who left before her.