Cover photo for Erna A, Heckens's Obituary
Erna A, Heckens Profile Photo
1918 Erna 2020

Erna A, Heckens

October 22, 1918 — April 18, 2020

To watch the funeral service for Erna please scroll down to the bottom of the obituary. 

Erna Alice Heckens (nee' Stallbaum), daughter of William and Betty Stallbaum (nee' Steecker), was born on October 22, 1918 in Emerson, Nebraska, the youngest of four children.  Three days after she was born, Betty passed away as a result of the 1918 flu pandemic.  Because her father was raising her three siblings and couldn't handle a newborn baby, Erna went to live with her grandmother Dorothia Stallbaum, and her aunt, Anna "Annie" Stallbaum who raised her until she became a young woman.

Erna was originally supposed to be named Alice May. However, her uncle Ernest, who nobody had heard from since he went off to World War I, came back home alive.  So she was named Erna in his honor.

Erna entered into God's family through the sacrament of Holy Baptism on  November 3, 1918 by Pastor Theodore Traubel at St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church in Emerson, Nebraska.  She subsequently affirmed her baptismal covenant through the rite of confirmation on March 20, 1932 by Pastor Hugo Welchert, also at St. Paul's.  She attended Emerson Public School, graduating in 1936.  Following graduation, she was employed at Dora McCorkindale's clothing store in Emerson.

On November 1, 1936 Erna was united in marriage to James Heckens in Emerson, Nebraska where the couple farmed for many years.  To this union, two daughters were born.  They were married for 40 years when Jim passed away in 1976. 

Erna spent a lot of time outdoors picking corn by hand, and tending her garden.  She always raised chickens, and she used to get baby chicks through the mail.  Frank Henderson, who delivered their mail, would always deliver their mail first whenever chicks were involved because it would stink up the inside of his car!

Erna worked on the farm until the Emerson-Hubbard school district approached her to be the head of food service at the Emerson High School, where she remained for 19 years.  During this time, she also served as the President of the Nebraska School Food Association where she was a long-time member.  She was also a member of several other organizations, including:  St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the Rebekah Lodge.

In 2000, Erna moved from Emerson to Wilcox, Nebraska to be close to her daughter, Tanice.  She became the head librarian at the Wilcox Public Library for a time, and was a member of the Wilcox United Methodist Church.  Then in 2013 she moved to Holdrege, Nebraska where she lived for the remainder of her life.

Erna was an avid reader all of her life, and she loved doing embroidery.  If you asked her how she was, her answer was always "can't complain," regardless of her level of discomfort.  Besides her amazing talent in the kitchen, she will be remembered for pleasant deportment, her sense of humor, and her love of people.  She especially valued her family, and she adored her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

On Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Christian Homes Care Community in Holdrege, Nebraska, the Lord in his wisdom quietly called Erna to her heavenly mansion at the age of 101 years, 5 months, and 27 days.

Left to mourn her passing are:  her daughter, Tanice (Mark) Twohig of Wilcox, NE; son-in-law, Richard Olesen of Allen, NE; her grandchildren, Jason (Katie) Olesen of Allen, NE; Nikki (Todd) Brown of Omaha, NE; Ryan (Dawn) Twohig of Valparaiso, NE; Kerri (Baron) Axtell of Funk, NE; Corey (Cheri) Twohig of Franklin, NE; Kasey Twohig (fiancé Dan Freitag) of Holdrege, NE; her great grandchildren, Bret Brown, Joshua Olesen, Gabriel Olesen, Paige Twohig, Cade Axtell, Haley Twohig, Ethan Twohig, Keller Twohig, Cauy Twohig, Kooper Twohig, Tierney Twohig, Gavin Twohig, Kelby Twohig and Jace Freitag. 

She was preceded in death by her husband, James; her parents, William and Betty Stallbaum; her daughter, Sandra Olesen; twin infant granddaughters, Robin and Rochelle Olesen; infant granddaughter, Tiffany Olesen; her brothers, William (Deloris) Stallbaum, Melvin Stallbaum; and her sister, Verna (Carl) Harder.

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