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Wilma J. (Willie) Scheel July 28, 1942 - May 22, 2020

Wilma J. (Willie) Scheel

Wilma (Willie) Jean Scheel, 77, of Boise, Idaho, passed away peacefully at her home with her family at her side on May 22, 2020, after a long battle with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). Willie was born in Rupert, Idaho, to Elmer and Luella Anderson on July 28, 1942, the fourth of five children. From the moment she was born, Willie was energetic, curious, and quick-witted. Her mother frequently sent her out in the fields to “help” her father where she could burn off energy and keep her father company with her constant chatter. Willie’s ebullience made it easy for her to meet and maintain lifelong friends. She had a smile that radiated warmth, a laugh that exuded joy, and a contagious exuberance for life!

The value of family and hard work was instilled in Willie at the young age of 11 when her father suddenly died. Willie helped her family by working on the farm, cooking meals, and taking care of her younger brother, Steve, while her mother worked outside the home. Willie also worked at the local drug store to bring in extra money. She received excellent grades in school and graduated from Minico High School in 1960. Although interested in pursuing further studies, Willie intended to work for the IRS after graduation to assist her mother financially. Surprisingly, the owner of the local drug store, Mrs. Benward, offered to help Willie with her college tuition. Willie accepted Mrs. Benward’s generous gesture and passed this kindness on to other children throughout the years with an understanding of hardship learned only through experience.

While at the University of Idaho, Willie majored in English and minored in Spanish. She joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and often told stories about the playful fun of her university “family”. It was through her Kappa roommate that she met the love of her life, James E. Scheel, a basketball player from Wendell, Idaho. Willie was smitten with Jim the minute she met him! According to family lore, Willie was often sent to entertain Jim while he waited for Willie’s roommate to get ready for a date. Although friends first, Jim and Willie fell in love quickly: they simply knew they were meant for each other. They were pinned in February 1963 and engaged the following year on Valentine’s Day. Willie graduated Phi Beta Kappa and married Jim shortly after graduation on June 20,1964, in Rupert, Idaho.

After graduation, Willie was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her studies overseas. With Jim as her priority, Willie elected instead to accompany her love to Seattle, Washington, where Jim attended medical school and Willie taught English at Meadowdale High School in the Edmonds School District. Their son, Jeff, was born during their time in Seattle. Their first daughter, Sheila, was born two years later while Jim was in residency in Portland, Oregon. The family moved to Jerome, Idaho, in 1970. Their second daughter, Cindy, was born a few years later. Committed to family and hard work, Willie managed her husband’s medical practice in Jerome while raising three young children. In 1975, the family moved to Twin Falls where Jim continued to practice while Willie focused on the family and her community. She returned to the classroom in 1986 where she taught Spanish and English as a Second Language at Robert Stuart Junior High School. Jim and Willie left Twin Falls in 2003 and relocated to their current home in Boise.

Willie loved spending time out of doors with her family and friends. On these adventures, she built memories, created traditions and formed lasting friendships. Willie hunted deer in the South Hills, fished for steelhead in British Columbia and on the North Fork of the Salmon River, fished for trout with the family at Henry’s Lake, combed the beach on the Oregon Coast, and camped any place their Prowler trailer could be parked. She made these family outings memorable by reading books to pass time on the car ride, by baking fabulous goodies, and by playing numerous games. No matter where the adventure took the family, there was always laughter, good food and fun.

Willie loved music! Whether she was leading the children’s Christmas program at church or awakening her children with a good morning song, Willie was always singing a song or humming a tune. Music permeated every aspect of her life. In church, she joyfully worshiped through song, something people around her loved to hear. At home, Willie stacked the record player with her favorites to accompany the family’s day of baking, and on birthdays, she even had a special rendition of “Happy Birthday”. Music was a natural expression of the joy and love she had for living and an expression of her incredible faith in the Lord.

While living in Twin Falls, Willie was an active member of Ascension Episcopal Church and the Cursillo community. She helped with the annual holiday church bazaar, taught Sunday School, and led children’s Christmas programs. Willie’s faith was unwavering, and it carried her through both difficult and wonderful times. When diagnosed with leukemia, Willie said, “Well, this is going to take a lot of prayer.” She rarely complained, always trusted that the Lord and his angels would carry her, and often turned to prayer as a source of comfort, peace, and gratitude.

Besides her love of the Lord, Willie, also loved being a mother and a grandmother. She often referred to being a grandmother as her favorite hobby! Willie, called “Nini” by her grandchildren, wore a necklace with charms for each grandchild. Nini proudly shared stories about each grandchild as she showed the necklace to others. Her grandchildren loved to point to their charms and hear about themselves from their grandmother’s doting perspective. Willie’s legacy of unconditional love, her commitment to family, her unwavering faith, and her joy of living will live on through her children and her grandchildren.

Willie is survived by her husband of 56 years, Jim, and her three children, Jeff (Ana) Scheel from Rochester, Minnesota; Sheila (Perry) Giffen from Boise, Idaho; and Cindy (Corey) Anneke from La Crosse, Wisconsin. She is survived by all 7 of her grandchildren, Alex and Nick Scheel; James, Austin, and Katelyn Giffen; and Riley and Cade Anneke. One of five children, Willie is survived by her sister, Carol Brown, and her brother, Steve Anderson. She was preceded in death by her parents, Elmer and Luella Anderson, and her brothers, Robert and Meldon Anderson.

Funeral arrangements are being handle by Bowman Funeral Home. A public visitation will be held on Thursday, May 28 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The family asks that social distancing be practiced, and masks be worn. A private service and burial will follow. Willie will be laid to rest at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise. The family is planning a Celebration of Life service for a future date that is more social-friendly.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be given in support of CMML research at Mayo Clinic where Willie participated in a clinical trial and was one of the longest survivors of this rare cancer. Donations can be made by phone, online or by mail.

By phone: call 1-855-852-8129 to talk with a Gift Processing Associates who can take a donation securely over the telephone.
Online: contribute at https://philanthropy.mayoclinic.org/donatemc
Under “tribute information” please indicate the gift is “In memory of Willie Scheel”
Mail: checks can be written directly to Mayo Clinic and mailed to Mayo Clinic Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905
In the memo line of the check, please indicate that the donation is “In memory of Willie Scheel”.

A public visitation will be held on Thursday, May 28 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The family asks that social distancing be practiced, and masks be worn. A private service and burial will follow. Willie will be laid to rest at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise. The family is planning a Celebration of Life service for a future date that is more social-friendly.

Condolences(21)

  1. REPLY
    Tom and Cathy Blair says

    Jim: We are so sorry about Willie. We will miss Willie, but she is now resting peacefully in Heaven. Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. We will keep you and your family in our prayers. Take Care.

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    Jeanie (Abrams) Davidson says

    My deepest condolences go out to Willie’s family. I knew Willie since early youth and always loved her bright smile and energy. I’m sure her light shines bright in Paradise – but the world is sadder without her here. May she Rest In Peace.

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    Arlene Schmidt says

    Sending sincere sympathy to your family. Many memories of Willie and all of you during our years in Twin falls. She was always so up beat and happy!

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      Chip and Kay Drerup says

      How blessed we are to have had sweet Willie in our lives for the time we did. It truly wasnt long enough but eternity will be. You both embraced us from the first day we met and helped us deal with our grief. Your loving kindness and genuine love are such gifts to all. Our lives are intertwined more than I knew until I read about her today, you see the day my son went home to the Lord was June 20 and the day of her viewing is May 28 my birthday. God weaves our lives together so perfectly. We love you both so much and so thankful you are part of who we are. So looking forward to eternity together. We are so sad for your seperation and the pain of that, Jim. Wish we could hug you right now. Please know how much we love you and sweet Willie, too.

  4. REPLY
    Carol Roseberry says

    I was so sorry to read of your loss of Willie. I will always remember her beautiful smile and graciousness when she came to the PC office. Dr. Scheel, I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

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      Ron and Karen Hodge says

      Jim and family:
      Karen and I were so saddened to hear of your loss. Willie had such a kind heart; she always brightened our day when we saw her. Our sincere condolences.

  5. REPLY
    Marie Sharp says

    Doctor Scheel: I am sending you my sincere condolences. I know from your stories to me that Willie leaving you will leave a big hole in your life. May God bless you with peace, joy and contentment in your journey.

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    Kim Blackett says

    Willie will be missed by all.

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      Fred L Beckett says

      I haven’t seen Willie in years. She and Jim stayed with our family one night on Ogden not long after they were married, and Jim fixed breakfast for us the next morning. Willie and I were first cousins. Her mother and my mother were sisters. My mom was Vivian Hegstrom Beckett. I remember Willie at family reunions and seeing her when our families visited them at their home when I was a kid. My your family find peace and comfort at this time. God bless!

  7. REPLY
    David W Becker Jr, MD, JD says

    Jim, I am sorry for the loss of your lovely wife Wilma. These many years have gone by so fast. I wish the best for you and your family.

  8. REPLY
    Brenda Harshbarger says

    I first met Willie in 1977, when I went through Cursillo in Twin Falls. We were in a fourth day together for many years. She gave me some of Cindy’s cute dresses for my daughter to wear. She was so lovely.

  9. REPLY
    Joan Anderson Fay says

    Dear Jim and family, It is so difficult to loose a mother and spouse. She will also leave a big hole with our Kappa pledge sisters. I let them know and sent a copy of her obituary to them all. Willie will certainly be missed by us. I’ll be thinking of my “sister” when we celebrate our birthday on July 28! Joan

  10. REPLY
    Susan Jacobsen says

    Jim and Family;
    I am so sorry to see if Willie’s passing. I have many memories of your time in Jerome.
    You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
    Love,
    Susan Somerset Jacobsen

  11. REPLY
    Roy and Nedra Hubert says

    Dr. Scheel: We were so sorry to hear of Willie’s passing, and give our condolences and prayers in your and your family’s behalf. We are so thankful for the years of dedicated service you gave to our family as our family Doctor, and were sad to see you retire, but we certainly understood why you did. Bless you for your years of loving care of Willie. May God bless you in the days ahead.

  12. REPLY
    heather A anderson says

    Dr. Scheel I am so sorry to hear of Willie’s passing. You and Willie were always so kind to me. She was so lovely and you just felt peace when she was around. Seeing her come into the office always made me smile.
    I loved talking with her. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  13. REPLY
    Karen Sweet says

    Dear Scheel family,
    Willie was such an encouragement to me when I first started teaching at Robert Stuart. It was a joy to have Jeff in my choir. I graduated from St. Olaf, not too far from Rochester. Blessings of good memories and the hope we have in Jesus during this difficult time.
    Love & Prayers,
    Karen Sweet

  14. REPLY
    Kris Roy says

    When Willie brought Sheila into third grade and then Cindy, the smile on her face and delight in her girls was evident to everyone. Sorry Jeff I didn’t get to know you. Willie always seemed to have a smile on her face and kind words for all. So sorry for the loss of this lovely lady.

  15. REPLY
    Delores and Dick Smith says

    Dear Jim,Jeff,Sheila&Cindy, My heartfelt thoughts go out to you in your time of loss. Ironically just last night I was fondly remembering family times together. Particularly the camping and steelhead fishing on the Salmon. Then today I saw the obituary, as I was wondering how you were all doing. Perhaps we will see you again at a celebration of life later.

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    Gaylin and Pam Childers says

    Jim, children and grandchildren So sorry for your loss. Gaylin and I think of you and Willie often. I just found out about her passing, it breaks my heart. Sounds like she was still a go getter. Many prayers and love to you and family.
    Love Gaylin and Pam Childers.

  17. REPLY
    Jennifer Somerhalder says

    Cindy and family,
    Our deepest sympathies for your loss. Willie was such a warm and kind person. We are thankful for the opportunity to know her.
    Sending you peace and love,
    Scott & Jennifer Somerhalder

  18. REPLY
    Steven K. Berg says

    Hi, Jim – This news breaks my heart. You and Willie are two of the finest people I have ever met.

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