Funeral Services for Mae Ione will be on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. at the First Lutheran Church in Rhame. Pastor Charles Johnson will officiate with burial to follow in the Tuttle Cemetery, Rhame, ND. There will be a Family and Friends Service on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the Krebsbach and Kulseth Funeral Home Chapel.
Mae Ione Willis was born to Frank and Ethel Willis on December 30, 1926 in Baker, MT. Frank and Ethel and their small family made their home on a farm north of Rhame, ND. Ethel originally came from Little Falls, MN and Frank from Soldiers Grove, WI.
Baby Mae and her mother returned home where Frank and Mae’s two sisters, Elaine and Gene were eagerly awaiting the new baby and mother. When Mae Ione was five years old, she started school at Crawford School which was located across the road from the family farm. When she was in the third grade she became ill with TB and missed two months of school. The family moved to Rhame during the depression and Gene and Mae Ione attended school there. Mae Ione graduated from Rhame High School in 1944.
Music was always important in the Willis Family. Ethel would give baby Mae to Frank to rock to sleep in the evening, but if any music came on the radio there was no way Frank was going to get her to sleep. During the depression the family’s entertainment was music. Elaine would play the piano, Frank would play the violin and Gene and Mae would sing. The girls provided the music for a lot of school and local events in the area.
After high school, Mae Ione worked as a bookkeeper for the Bowman Brothers Hardware Store. On October 19, 1945 she was united in marriage to Norman “Bud” Hande. Bud had just returned to Rhame after spending 9 months of World War II as a German prisoner in the Stalag 3C prison camp in Germany. Mae Ione and Bud became parents to Dale Eugene on September 6, 1946 and Cary Reed on May 24, 1951. As adults, Dale married Redgie Myre of Baker, MT and Cary married Margie Juntunen from Bowman. Mae Ione would help Bud with his rural mail delivery route south of Rhame until she opened up her own business in Rhame called, Ione’s Style Shop. Bud passed away on April 14, 1976 and Mae Ione started working for the Rhame School District as an aide. The love of children took the place of Bud’s love.
Mae Ione joined the American Legion Auxiliary at the age of 10. As an adult she became very active on the local, district, state and national levels. She was elected president and served as the North Dakota State President in 1989-1990. She became the National Music Chairman in 1992-93. She was so honored to direct 1,000 women in singing the National Anthem at the American Legion Auxiliary National Convention in Chicago. Mae Ion has attend many state and national conventions and as made many friends from all over the United States.
Mae Ione loved to travel and was never afraid of going alone. She traveled to Brazil to visit a foreign exchange student that had stayed with her during their time going to school in Rhame. She also traveled to Europe twice, once visiting Normandy Beach in France and another time visiting ancestry homes in England. Her loyalty to Rhame was never diminished. A very special moment for her was when she led a group of choir members in song for the 100 Year Celebration of the 1st Lutheran Church of Rhame 2012.
Mae Ione is survived by her sons; Dale and Redgie Hande and their children, Casey Hande and Kadee Hande. Cary and Margie Hande, and their children, Heidi (James) Weatherly and their children, Stella and Ansel Weatherly and Travis (Jamie) Hande and their daughter Jorja Hande. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
Mae Ione was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Ethel, husband Bud, sisters, Elaine Hendrickson and Gene Jensen.