NAPPANEE — Wilma E. Sechrist, 106, died at 1:36 a.m. Monday at Elkhart General Hospital. She had been in ill health the past two weeks.
She was born March 12, 1907 to Noah and Anna (Heckaman) Rhinehart in Kosciusko County. Since age 10, she lived her entire life in the same house, except for the past five months and five days, which she spent at LuAnn Nursing Home in Nappanee.
At the age of 10, she and her family moved from Kosciusko County to Nappanee on a buckboard wagon at a time when there was much celebration in the city. What Wilma thought to be celebrating for her arrival turned out to be the Armistice Day celebration — the end of World War I at 11 a.m.
Wilma attended Nappanee schools. From 1929-1936, she worked as a telephone operator for Nappanee Telephone Company. She also worked at Vitreous Steel Company, the Nappanee Sauerkraut Factory and in her father’s grocery store.
On April 27, 1929, she married Harold F. Sechrist in Nappanee. They had 50 wonderful years together until his death May 16, 1979. Harold and Wilma were very active in Nappanee. For many years, they were active in pony racing at Phoenix Downs in Nappanee and across the state. Wilma was a longtime member of the Nappanee United Methodist Church. She enjoyed sewing, quilting, cooking and working in her yard. She always knew what the weather and temperature was going to be the next day.
After her 100th birthday celebration with her family and friends, she enjoyed reading the cards and letters that followed; they gave her great joy.
Mrs. Sechrist is survived by her daughter, Lois Johnson, West Terre Haute; grandchildren, Kris Johnson (Ross) Molho, Oak Park, Ill., Karl Johnson, Ocean Side, Calif., Katie (Berin) Kinsman and Kurt (Laura) Johnson, both of Albuquerque, N.M.; great-grandchildren, Taylor Kirk, Boulder, Colo., Jacob Molho and Rachel Molho, both of Oak Park, Ill.; and a special caring friend, Jan Tobias, who cared for Wilma which allowed her to stay in her home until the last five months.
She was preceded in death by her son-in-law, Nils Johnson; and sisters, Iola Middaugh, Ruth Rhinehart and Gladys Hepler.
Family and friends may call Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Thompson-Lengacher & Yoder Funeral Home, Nappanee, and one hour prior to the funeral service, which will take place at 1 p.m. Friday at the Nappanee United Methodist Church. The Revs. Jim Davidson and Janet McFall-Brown will officiate.
Burial will be in Union Center Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be given to the Nappanee United Methodist Church.
To leave a message of condolence for the family, visit tlyfh.com.