Ilene Holdeman

Obituary for Bernita Ilene Holdeman

Ilene Holdeman, 80, of Montezuma and formerly of West Branch, Iowa passed away Thursday, September 19, 2019, at the Mahaska Health Hospice Serenity House in Oskaloosa.

Bernita Ilene Holdeman, the youngest of nine children born to Henry and Agnes (Gabbert) Harris, was born March 24, 1939. She attended school in Norway and West Branch, Iowa until a farming accident took the life of her father. The family then moved to Mount Vernon. It was there that she graduated high school in 1957 and shortly after that, June 15, 1957, that she married her high school Sweetheart, Gary Eugene Holdeman. They made their home in rural West Branch where they raised their five children. Ilene enjoyed gardening and preserving its bounty for her family. Gary and Ilene farmed for four years before they got into the sheep shearing business. When her children were out of the home, Ilene started to accompany Gary to the many states where they sheared sheep. After a time, they started a sharpening blade business with the shearing. They traveled to the east coast serving Handcock Fabric Stores and its customers, sharpening countless scissors and shears. They purchased a motorhome in 2000, making their time on the road more comfortable. In 2010 they moved to the Montezuma area. Ilene and Gary worked together for over 60 years in the sheep shearing and sharpening business; she enjoyed sharing stories of their adventures across the United States and of the many kind and caring people they met along the way. She was proud of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; she enjoyed having them visit.

Ilene’s family includes her husband, Gary, of over 62 years; her children and their spouses: Dean Holdeman of Chariton, Roger and Lynn Holdeman, Lori and Dave Avel of Royal, Iowa, Mike Holdeman of Reasnor, Iowa, and Brian and Lynn Holdeman of Ankeny; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; a brother, Buel “Sonny” Harris of Cedar Rapids; and a brother-in-law, Bill Zaruba of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In addition to her parents, Ilene was preceded in death by her siblings: Dale, Bueta, Brownie, Max, Liz, Wanda, and Jenny.

A Celebration of Life gathering will be held from 4-8 p.m., Tuesday, September 24 at the New Sharon United Methodist Church located at 200 West Market St. New Sharon, Iowa. Services under the direction of Langkamp Funeral Chapel, Oskaloosa.