In Memory of Joyce Marie Wilken

Joyce Marie Wilken
Joyce Marie Wilken
Born: January 31, 1923
Died: June 22, 2020
Age: 97
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Joyce Marie Wilken
January 31, 1923 - June 22, 2020
From: Odebolt, IA

Joyce Marie Wilken, age 97, of Odebolt, Iowa passed away on Monday, June 22, 2020, at the Odebolt Specialty Care of Odebolt, Iowa.

A Private Family Funeral Service will be held at the Trinity Lutheran Church of Odebolt, Iowa. Rev. David Viggers will officiate. Committal will follow in the Odebolt Cemetery of Odebolt, Iowa. The Christensen-Van Houten Funeral Home of Odebolt, Iowa is in charge of the funeral arrangements.  Condolences may be sent online at

Joyce Marie (Albrecht) Wilken was born on January 31, 1923, on a farm north of Wall Lake, Iowa. She was the eldest daughter of Ella (Kowalke) Albrecht and Ed J. Albrecht and their last surviving child. Joyce was baptized and confirmed at Peace Lutheran Church in Wall Lake. In 1940 she graduated from Wall Lake High School, where she was an outstanding basketball player. Following graduation, she did secretarial work for the Wall Lake Schools before moving to Des Moines to receive training at the American Institute of Business and then worked for the State of Iowa. She shared an apartment with several other young women who became lifelong friends.

While working in Des Moines, she began dating Russell Henry Wilken, who was also a member of Peace Lutheran’s Walther League organization. For their first date, Russ took her to a dance at the Cobblestone Ballroom in Storm Lake, where band leader Lawrence Welk and his orchestra were performing. Their courtship continued long distance after Russ joined the U.S. Merchant Marines during World War II.

On June 23, 1946, Joyce and Russ married at Peace Lutheran. A few months later Russ’s stint in the Merchant Marines ended and they began farming east of Odebolt. In 1952 Russ and Joyce rented a farm south of Odebolt owned by Grace and Lillian Hanson. A few years later they purchased that farm, which became their home for most of their lives. They were the parents of four children: Mary Jo, Kathy, GayNelle, and David.

Joyce was an excellent cook, gardener and seamstress. She was thrifty, industrious, and an independent thinker. When her youngest child reached middle school age, she returned to work part time, taking a secretarial job first with attorney Russ Wunschel in Wall Lake and later with attorney Laurel Boerner in Odebolt.   

In the years after their son David married and returned to live on the family farm, Russ and Joyce took great pleasure in having grandchildren close by and enjoyed attending their athletic games. Following Russ’s 2003 death, Joyce continued to live on the family farm, aided by Dave and his family.

Joyce was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Odebolt until she reached her mid-nineties. She had served as president of the church’s Ladies Aid and in later years took part in the church’s quilting group.

Following her son’s 2017 death, Joyce moved to Lake View, Iowa, at the age of 94.  She continued to live on her own for the next two years with the help of her daughters Kathy and Mary Jo and their husbands. She maintained a keen intellect and enjoyed spirited discussions with Pastor David Viggers during his visits.

Over the years, Joyce baked millions of cinnamon rolls and sent hundreds of greeting cards to family and friends. When she entered Odebolt Specialty Care at age 96, she remained determinedly cheerful, approaching her physical therapy with enthusiasm and frequently inquiring as to the welfare of other residents and staff.

Joyce was preceded in death by her parents; her husband Russell Wilken; her son David Russell Wilken; son-in-law Dan Gordon Doll; an infant granddaughter; and six siblings: Loren Albrecht, Norma Sommer, Dale Albrecht, Gloria Thompson, Mavis Suckow, and Bonnie Diepholtz.

She is survived by daughters Mary Jo (Duane) Miller of Urbandale, IA, Kathy (Jim) Keefe of Ocala, FL and GayNelle Doll of Madison, TN; daughter-in-law Twyla Prall-Wilken of rural Odebolt, IA; and eight grandchildren: Jennifer Miller Kuehn, Jill Miller, Jeremy Miller, Dawn Keefe Powell, Ryan Keefe, Blake Wilken, Alayna Wilken, and Tate Wilken. Also surviving are seven great-grandchildren: Adam Powell, Brianna Powell, Tabitha Kuehn, Samantha Kuehn, Riley Wilken, Owen Wilken, and Taylor Wilken. In addition, she is survived by sister-in-law Marge Albrecht.

The family wishes to thank the staffs of Odebolt Specialty Care, Care Initiatives Hospice of Siouxland, and Christensen-Van Houten Funeral Homes; Pastor Viggers; and the many members of the community who visited Joyce and brightened her days during her last years.

Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church in Odebolt or to the charity of one’s choice.


Private Family Service


Rev. David Viggers


Jennifer Kuehn
Dawn Powell
Jill Miller
Jerry Miller
Ryan Keefe
Blake Wilken
Alayna Wilken
Tate Wilken


"I'm But A Stranger Here"
"Nearer, My God, To Thee"
Carol Wendel, Organist


Odebolt Cemetery
Odebolt, Iowa


Monday, June 29, 2020 at 9:26 AM
“What a loss! Joyce was a kind and caring neighbor. She was a quiet supporter of everything good in this world. Joyce was a hard worker and great example of a Christian in everything she did. She didn’t have to tell people she loved God she just showed it in everything she did. She will be missed.”
- Carol Johnson
Monday, June 29, 2020 at 9:26 AM
“Duane and Mary Jo, I am sorry for your loss. I remember your Mom, she was a very strong person. I still have the memories of our time at the church. Please know I am thinking about you. I still miss my mom. Gloria”
- Gloria Clark Sykes
Friday, June 26, 2020 at 9:15 AM
“A lovely lady who became a dear friend.”
- Sally Porter
Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 2:08 PM
“I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Joyce was such a kind lady. Russ and Joyce were great friends to my family. I remember spending many nights at your farm growing up or going to the races. She left you with many wonderful memories.”
- Sally Nellis
Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 9:05 AM
“We are saddened that Joyce’s journey is ended, what a wonderful journey it was. ”
- Ron and Vicki Mildenstein
Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 9:05 AM
“I was doing sunday paper route and i delievered 2 Joyce on the farm and she was always leaving me baked good’s and u know that she took pride in making them ”
- Charlie “tuna” Schnirring
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 1:25 PM
“What a beautiful legacy. ”
- Donna Turner
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 1:25 PM
“We were very sorry to hear of Joyce's passing. She and Russ were special people and we enjoyed very much our times with them. As an employee Joyce was excellent and certain helped my practice in Odebolt and I will miss our yearly visits. . ”
- Laurel and Sandra Boerner
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 9:10 AM
“So sorry for your loss! So thankful she is home! We adored her and we will miss her. ”
- Stuart & Martha Carlson
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 9:10 AM
“So sorry to hear if Joyce’s passing-she was a sweet and gentle lady! Sending prayers and hugs!!”
- Jan Rabe Hosteng
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“I can remember when Russ and Joyce would come over to visit my parents and Joyce was always very nice to me”
- Speed Herrig
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“I am so sorry to hear of Joyce's passing. She is such a special cousin and was always the "go to " cousin when we needed to discuss any family gatherings or concerns regarding Aunt Lola. I am the youngest of the Kowalke 15 grandchiildren and there are only 5 of us left. What a beautiful women and heaven has gained a faithful and wonderful servant. ”
- Marie Whiteing
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“Our sympathy to Joyce's family. She was a beautiful lady , she was a gracious and kind person, a true friend. We will miss her in our community. May God's graces and comfort be with all of you. The Landgrafs, Margaret and George.”
- Margaret and George Landgraf
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