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Eileen Margrethe Hodges/Wihak (nee Petersen) passed away peacefully with family by her side on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, at the age of 87 years after a brief illness. She was predeceased by her husband of 38 years, Alexander Wihak; and son-in-law Mark Daunheimer. Eileen is cherished and loved by her daughters, Sandra Ocrane (Larry), Marjorie Swab (Elden), Karen Daunheimer, Mary-Anne Wihak (Larry Buhler), as well as eight grandchildren, Maria (Greg), Alexander (Paige), Andrea (Curtis), Steven (Alison), Jill (Nick), Ben, Ty and Spencer, and her nine great-grandchildren, Sienna, Keyerra, Koen, Karsyn, Caeden, James, Alexander, Witt and Annaliese. She is also survived by her husband of 29 years, Ken Hodges, and his family. She will be missed by many Petersen and Wihak nieces, nephews and friends.
The youngest of seven children, Eileen was born in 1933 on the farm of Danish immigrants, Carl and Charlotte Petersen, near Riverhurst, Sask. She attended the local one-room schoolhouse and skipped many grades to complete Grade 8 by age 10, Grade 12 at Regina Balfour Collegiate by age 14, and graduated from Moose Jaw “Normal School” (teacher’s college) by age 15. Her first classroom was in Cupar, Sask. at age 16, then Indian Head and then Melville, where she spent most of her teaching career.
In 1953 she married Alexander Wihak, and they raised a family of four daughters. Their family life centred around school activities, church, sports, music, friends and family holidays. Eileen was patient, encouraging and kind, yet perfected many of her teaching skills at home. Upon hearing her disciplinary “teacher’s voice”, her daughters readied themselves for “visits to the corner”, “writing sets of lines”, or “verbal repetitions of correct grammar usage”. She loved teaching, especially young children, and whether it was her students, her own children, her grandchildren or great-grandchildren, she tailored her support to the personality of each one. She loved to read, had a sense of adventure and enjoyed nature, camping and travelling. Road trips to see grandchildren became a highlight of her life right up until Al’s death in 1990. Eileen retired from a 42-year teaching career in 1991. She always enjoyed her St. Henry’s Elementary School teaching peers and the superannuated teachers’ banquets but in recent times especially looked forward to going for coffee at Tim Hortons with a group of friends comprised of mainly retired teachers.
Eileen married Ken Hodges, a family friend, in 1991. Their marriage proved to be a launching point for Eileen’s involvement in The Royal Canadian Legion, the Scandinavian Club and many happy years of travelling, on bus tours, to conferences, family reunions and spending winters in Arizona. She was an armchair sports fan with two favourite teams. She watched all the Blue Jays games and would help Ken garb up in their “Rider T-Shirts” for televised Rider football games.
Eileen loved flowers and spent numerous hours tending her beloved “tiger lilies” and hanging pots. Her vegetable garden was expressly planted, so she could make her coveted beet, bean and dill pickles as gifts for others. She began baking cookies for her Christmas gifts on Nov.1 and baked a triple or quadruple batch every day until the 20 or so kinds of cookies or squares were finished. Enlisting help from her daughter Karen, she packaged them and usually had them ready for distribution by the first week in December. She was delighted to have family come to visit her, especially when she held a great-grandchild. She loved to share tidbits of trivia, famous sayings and family history. Eileen will be missed by those who knew and loved her. Her life was a legacy well lived “teaching us how to love with our lives”!
A private funeral for Eileen will be held at Melville’s First United Church. Eileen’s family would like to host a “celebration of her life” for extended family and friends in the future if Covid-19 restrictions allow.