Thursday, October 1, 2015 1:45 pm
Neva Maye (Bjonerud) Viise, 84, died peacefully in her home Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, in Decorah, surrounded by her family. Services were at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, at Calmar Lutheran Church, Calmar, with Pastor Phillip Olson officiating. Organist was Cynthia Viise. Hymns were “O God Our Help,” “Children of the Heavenly Father,” “Precious Lord” and “Be Thou My Vision.” Interment was at Calmar Lutheran Cemetery, Calmar. Arrangements were handled by Schluter – Balik Funeral Home, Decorah. Casket bearers were Edwin Miller, John Viise, Gustav Viise, Peter Mueller, Andrew Mueller and James Mueller.
Neva was born Sept. 18, 1931, to parents Robert and Edna (Falnes) Bjonerud of rural Calmar. Neva was baptized Oct. 4, 1931, and confirmed June 4, 1944, at Calmar Lutheran Church, attended Conover School, and graduated from Calmar High School. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary and music education from Luther College in 1954. In 1957, as a teacher for Department of Defense schools, she was assigned to Pepperrell Air Force Base near St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she met her future husband, First Lieutenant Michael G. Viise, a Lutheran chaplain in the US Air Force. They were married June 21, 1958, at Calmar Lutheran Church. As a military spouse, Neva made a home for her husband and children in numerous places in the US and overseas until Michael retired from the Air Force in 1985 and they moved to Charlottesville, Va. After retirement, Neva remained as active as ever. She directed the choir and taught Vacation Bible School at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Charlottesville, and returned to school to obtain a doctorate in education from the University of Virginia in 1992. She accompanied her husband to Estonia on his mission to establish a modern military chaplaincy and lived there from 1995 to 1998. In Estonia, Neva taught English composition and speech at Tallinn Pedagogical University and Concordia International University Estonia and became a master teacher for the Open Estonia Foundation, a George Soros initiative providing training and mentoring for teachers in Estonia. Meanwhile, Neva was an avid reader, a quilter, a prolific and meticulous seamstress, a wonderful cook, a caring member of her church, and a loving mother and grandmother. In the summer of 2014, she and her husband moved to Decorah, to be closer to her hometown and the family farm.
Neva is survived by her husband, Michael Viise; by her four children: Lina Miller (Edwin) of Independence, Kans.; Diane Viise (Cynthia) of Elmhurst, Ill.; Michelle Viise of Somerville, Mass.; and John Viise (Laura) of Oak Park, Ill.; and her sister, Ruth Bjonerud of Calmar. She is mourned by her 10 grandchildren: Kirsten and Anna Miller; Peter, Andrew, James, and Emily Mueller; and Gustav, Lars, Darrell and Johann Viise. Her caring presence, intelligence, humor, and sense of adventure will be missed by all.
Neva was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers-in-law, Ants Viise and Jaan Viise.
Memorial gifts in Neva’s honor may be sent to Winneshiek Medical Center, Home Health and Hospice, 901 Montgomery Street, Decorah, Iowa 52101.