Velma Pearl Wondrasek, 95, of Bottineau, died Monday, Aug. 26, in a Bottineau nursing home.
Her funeral will be held Friday, Aug. 30, at 10 a.m., in St. Mark’s Catholic Church, Bottineau. Visitation will be today, Aug. 29, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a prayer service at 7 p.m., both at Nero Funeral Home in Bottineau. Burial will be at Oak Creek Cemetery in Bottineau.
Velma was born on the family farm three miles south of Cando on Jan. 31, 1918, to Dick and Della Nass. She graduated from Cando High School in 1936. Growing up, Velma enjoyed working on the farm and riding her Percheron work horse, “Dan.” Velma always had an interest in animals, alive and dead. As a sophomore, in 1933, Velma took a home taxidermy course from the Northwest School of Taxidermy. Her interest became her hobby and then later in life became an extra source of income. Today, you can view many items of her taxidermy collection of skulls, eggs, and mountings at the Dakota College of Bottineau and the Bottineau Historical Museum.
In 1939, Velma attended the New York Hair Dressing Academy in Fargo. Later, in the same year, Velma opened Velma’s Beauty Nook on Main Street in Bottineau.
On April 12, 1942, Velma married 1st Sgt. Stephen Wondrasek, of Missouri Valley, Iowa, at Fort Bliss, Texas. While away from Bottineau, Velma had a lady manage her hairdressing business. When Stephen was stationed in Europe during World War II, Velma returned to Bottineau and reopened Velma’s Beauty Nook.
On Feb. 20, 1949, Velma and Stephen had their first son, Alan Michael, who was born at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Baltimore, Md. During the next four years, Velma was busy being a mother, moving extensively and was a member of the Officers Wives Club at each post she and Stephan were stationed. Eric Gregory was born in Bottineau on Dec. 8, 1953, while Stephen was stationed in Korea. During this time, Velma returned to Bottineau and worked part time for her sister, Twilla Glinz, at Twilla’s Beauty Shop.
Velma and Stephen and family were stationed in Japan between January 1955 and December 1956. In 1957, Stephen retired from the Army with the rank of major at Denver, Colo. During their military life together, Velma and Steve moved 18 times in 18 years. Their only daughter, Gale Marie, was born Jan. 17, 1958, at Great Lakes Naval Base, Chicago, Ill., while Stephen and Velma attended the Ray Vogue School of Photography. Velma took courses in negative retouching and oil coloring of black and white photographs. In 1958, the Wondrasek family returned to Bottineau and opened up Wondrasek Photography on Main Street. In the same year, Velma and Dolores Howell started a Cub Scout Troop for their sons, Alan and Jimmy.
In 1960, Velma and Steve built and opened their new studio at 522 Sinclair Street, where she lived up until a year ago. While they were in business, they were members of the National Professional Photographers Association and awarded a retired lifetime membership. Velma and Steve retired from the photography business in 1984 after 26 years in business.
Velma and Steve were also active members of the Bottineau Chamber of Commerce. Velma was a member of the P.T.A., hospitality chairman, band parent and treasurer for nine years. Velma continued her world travels with her husband, Stephen, traveling to the Caribbean, Hong Kong, China, Germany, Alaska, Italy and Church Hill, Canada, for the polar bears.
During her retirement, Velma stayed busy with her grandchildren (8) and great-grandchildren (3). She managed her own apartments and the A & B Apartment Rentals for 15 years while her son and daughter-in-law, Alan and Barb, were stationed with the Army. She continued blowing her sidewalk’s snow and the sidewalks of the widowed ladies of her neighborhood until she was 85 years old. She helped with Meals on Wheels, was treasurer of the Bottineau Historical Society and received the Outstanding Women’s Award from the Bottineau Professional Women’s Association. She continued her membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion auxiliaries. She was the longest North Dakota hairdresser to maintain her license with the North Dakota State Board of Cosmetology for more than 70 years until her death.
She was a member of the St. Mark’s Altar Society and in 1992 Velma began assisting her daughter, Gale, sister, Twilla, and niece, Brigitte Glinz, with the Bottineau Girl Scouts and remained their treasurer for many years. She spearheaded the Bottineau Girls Scouts Can Recycle Program, which enabled the Senior Girl Scout girls to take a graduation trip to the nation’s capital.
Velma was called to her eternal home on Aug. 26, 2013.
Velma was preceded in death by her husband, Stephen (U.S. Army Retired) on Sept. 27, 1996, and her son, Eric Wondrasek, on Aug. 28, 2005; her parents, Richard (Dick) and Dell Nass; brothers, Melvin Nass and Lynn Nass; and nephew, David Wondrasek.
She is survived by: her son, Alan (Barb) Wondrasek, daughter, Gale (Murray) Wondrasek-Lane, eight grandchildren, Julie, Jason, Scott, Robyn, (Al and Barb Wondrasek); Alicia, Sean, (Gale Wondrasek-Lane); Evan, Erica (Renee and the late Eric Wondrasek); three great-grandchildren, Jameson (Julie and Cody Langager); Lana and Elizabeth (Jason and Tiffany Wondrasek); sister, Twilla (Norman) Glinz; sister-in-laws, Mavis (Melvin) Nass and Dorothy (Lynn) Kannas; and relatives, Brigitte (Glinz) Jeff Schuster, Mark and Brenda Glinz, Linda (Nass) Overdahl, Jerry Nass, Ray Nass, Fred Nass, Sheila Wondrasek, Doug Wondrasek, Laura (Wondrasek) Dingman, Linda (Wondrasek) Ellerbruch and Mary (Wondrasek) Coffin.
Memorials: In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Bottineau County Veterans.
Arrangements are entrusted to the care of Nero Funeral Home, Bottineau. To view the complete obituary and sign the online guestbook, please visit (www.nerofuneralhome.net).