Ardis Ornette Eilts, 89, of Ireton, Iowa passed away peacefully on July 23, 2023. She was the heart and soul of our family.
Memorial Service will be 1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 27, 2023, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ireton, Iowa with Rev. Michael Boothby officiating. Inurnment will be at Pleasant Hill Cemetery. A luncheon and time of sharing will be at the Ireton Community Center following the committal service. Visitation with the family will be from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. Thursday at the church and then at the luncheon. The memorial service will be recorded and uploaded to the church webpage and Facebook page. The Porter Funeral Home in Ireton is assisting the family. Condolences may be sent to www.porterfuneralhomes.com.
Ardis was born on September 15, 1933, to Harry and Nellie (Erickson) Smith. She was descended from a long line of strong-minded women and kind-hearted men. Ardis grew up during the Great Depression and never failed to use this as an excuse for her vast collection of empty butter tubs and Cool Whip containers. She attended Ireton schools and after graduating from high school married Bill Dean Eilts on February 23, 1951. Overnight she became a farm wife and soon after a mother. Together they raised six children and experienced the tragic loss of an infant son to SIDS. Bill passed away in 1987 at the young age of 53. This is when we first saw our mother’s strength as she lovingly tended to him during those many years fighting pancreatic cancer.
After her husband’s passing, she channeled her grief into doing what she’d always enjoyed, writing. For many years she was co-owner and editor of the local newspaper The Ireton Examiner where she also wrote a weekly column entitled “Generally Speaking”. This title came from the phrase under her senior photo in the yearbook “Generally speaking she is generally speaking”. Ardis was an enthusiastic conversationalist. She had the privilege to attend a session of the prestigious Iowa Summer Writers Workshop. Ardis was a long-time member of the Historical Society, a genealogy buff and always available to assist visitors in search of their Iowa roots. She had a deep love of people and their stories. She was a proud Falcon and faithful supporter of all things West Sioux. Ardis was a long-time member of The American Legion Auxiliary. Patriotic to the bone, her favorite colors were red, white, and blue. She was the first recipient of the Ireton Citizen of The Year award. Ardis was a true Norwegian who could live on buttered lefse and kringla. The more butter the better! Her small kitchen table displayed every jelly and jam you could imagine. She was known for the caramel rolls she baked and delivered to so many friends and neighbors. She always had the best neighbors. Her soul was soothed first in the Presbyterian church and later as a Lutheran at St. Paul’s. Ardis taught Catechism and was also a 4-H leader. She had many joyful adventures with the Red Hatters and traveled to numerous places both here and overseas. She especially looked forward to meeting with her Birthday Club. Then there was the quilting. So much patience and creativity and enjoyment. Her fabric stash was epic. She spread her love stitch by stitch eventually sewing close to 100 quilts. Ardis would especially want to thank all the skilled and loving staff at Oakhill Assisted Living who along with the other residents were her family too.
Thank you, Mom, for being such an amazing, smart, generous, and loving role model. We are broken-hearted, but ever grateful.
Left to carry on her legacy are her children, Belinda Harrison, Pat (Ralph) Thomason, Glenda (James) Ver Hoeven, Carol (Rick) Salberg, Paul (Tami) Eilts, and Mary (Patrick) Hendricks; 15 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren; cousin, Esther Schlueter who felt more like a sister to her; and sister-in-law, Marlene Eilts along with many nieces, nephews, and loved ones.
Ardis was predeceased by husband Bill; parents, Harry and Nellie Smith, father-in-law and mother-in-law, Lawrence and Emma Eilts; sisters, Phyllis Presler and Marjorie Smith; infant son, Lawrence; infant granddaughter, Elise Eilts; brothers-in-law, Vernon Eilts, Alden Presler, and Earlo Smith; sons-in-law, Rob Harrison and Chuck Marienau; and grandson-in-law, Brandon Rogers.