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RUDYARD - Gertrude "Gertie" Margaret VanWechel, 97, died Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2003, at a Great Falls nursing home.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Calvary Evangelical Church in Rudyard. Following the burial at the Rudyard Cemetery, a coffee hour will be held at the church.

Gertrude was born in Iola, Wis., to Thomas and Bessie Narestad on Jan. 6, 1906. Her father came to Montana to homestead in late 1912 and the rest of the family came in the spring of 1913. They lived 15 miles northwest of Rudyard. Gertrude's father died in 1913. Her mother later married Lawrence Tippie and another child, Francis, was born to this union.

Gertrude attended the rural Oreanna school north of Rudyard and attended high school in Rudyard. She later worked in Augusta and Havre.

In 1927 Gertrude married Jacob A. VanWechel in Havre. They raised their family of four on their farm 12 miles north of Rudyard. In 1973 they moved from the farm into Rudyard.

Gertrude resided in a Havre care center for two years before moving to a Great Falls nursing home three months ago.

Gertrude belonged to the Hingham Rebecca Lodge, the Home Demonstration Club, the E.U.B. Church and Ladies Aid of Rudyard, and the Rudyard Bridge Club. She bowled in the Housewives League and the mixed doubles league. She was an excellent cook and liked to play cards, especially pinochle, bridge and whist. She enjoyed gardening, television, reading and solitaire.

Gertrude was preceded in death by her husband, Jacob, in 1990; daughter, Phyllis Anderson in 1989; brothers, Evan, Harvey and Carl; sister, Francis Evanson; grandchildren, Jeff and Jessie VanWechel; and son-in-law, Edward Norenberg.

Survivors include her sons, Melvin (Donna Mae) VanWechel of Havre and James (Mary) VanWechel of Chatteroy, Wash.; daughter, Kathryn "Kay" Norenberg of Great Falls; 11 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; six great-great-grandchildren; sister, Evelyn "Netes" Langel of Rudyard; son-in-law, Richard Anderson of Chester.

Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel in Chester.


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