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2017-04-20 / The Holy Road

Wilhelmina Arlene (Shields) Janis

Wilhelmina Arlene (Shields) Janis was born on April 24, 1939, to Vivian (Loudner) Red Bear and William Shields Sr., at home in what is now known as “Old Fort Thompson.” Willie passed away on April 9, 2017, at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD at the age of 77 years.

Willie attended school at Old Fort Thompson, being part of the last graduating class before the town was officially moved to its current location. She also attended Immaculate Conception at Stephan, SD before transferring to Gann Valley High School, where she became a cheerleader. She then attended Flandreau Indian School, where she graduated in 1957. She went on to Stewart’s School of Hairstyling in Sioux Falls, SD and also passed her State Boards.

Wilhelmina held various positions throughout her lifetime. She worked at Vi’s Beauty Shop in Pierre, SD, Pierre Indian Learning Center, Flandreau Indian School, Crow Creek High School, and Red Horse Lodge. Willie also worked for a variety of programs for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe – she was the very first director for the Elderly Nutrition Program, a Community Health Representative (CHR), a certified EMT, Personnel Officer, Liquor Store Manager, and then she retired to become a stay at home grandmother.

Willie married the love of her life, Gene Heminger. Willie and Gene were blessed to adopt a son and a daughter, Perry and Carole Heminger. Willie also raised Carole’s children as her own as well – Francis Heminger, Zachariah Shepard, and Daryl Brushbaker Jr.

Willie later re-married Glen Janis and helped raise his three children, Vincent, Peter, and Tracy.

Willie loved to play bingo, plant flowers, read, go to softball games, play solitaire on the computer, and shop at Walmart.

Willie was the heart of the family, she was the one person who kept everyone connected. Her home was always open to everyone. She could never have enough family or friends in her home. Although she developed health problems, she didn’t let it be her downfall.

Willie is survived by her son, Perry Heminger, of Fort Thompson, SD, three grandsons, Francis Heminger of Fort Thompson, SD, Zachariah Shepard of Sioux Falls, SD, and Daryl Brushbaker Jr. of Rapid City, SD. Two brothers, Randy (Cheryl) Shields Sr. of Fort Thompson, SD and Gordon Shields of Lake Andes, SD. Two sisters, Alsephine (Melvin) Joseph and Penelope Black Bull, both of Fort Thompson, SD. A special grandaughter, Krista Sazue of Fort Thompson, SD and a hunka daughter, Amber Tapio of Sioux Falls, SD.

Willie is preceded in death by her parents, a daughter, Carole (Heminger) Armstrong, a sister, Sharon (Shields) Metcalf, a brother, William Shields Jr., nieces, Kris (Seaboy) McCauley, Heidi Metcalf, Tally Metcalf, nephews, Rodney Joseph, Roger Joseph, and Aaron Joseph, Cousins, Oliver Shields Jr., Georgiann Shields, Mark Ray Shields Jr., Wayne Shields, Edward Shields Sr., Avery Thompson, Tommy Thompson, Edgar Loudner Jr., Aunt, Amanda (Loudner) Thompson, Uncles, Edgar Loudner Sr., Emery Loudner and many other relatives too numerous to name.

Funeral services for Wilhelmina “Willie” Janis, 77, of Fort Thompson were held at 1:00 pm Friday, April 14, 2017 at Diamond Willow Ministries in Fort Thompson with burial in the Christ Episcopal Cemetery at Fort Thompson. Wake services will be Wednesday and Thursday evening at 7:00 pm at Diamond Willow Ministries in Fort Thompson.

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