Sandy Felke

Sunday, February 25, 2024 6:15 pm

Sandy Felke, age 75, of Decorah, died on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at her home in Decorah surrounded by her family.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, at the Washington Prairie Lutheran Church, 1725 Washington Prairie Road in rural Decorah, with Rev. Jennifer Edinger presiding. Burial will be in the church cemetery.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Helms Funeral Home, 306 E. Water St., in Decorah, and after 10 a.m. at the church on Thursday morning.

Sandy was born on July 31, 1948, to Wesley and Marie (Hangartner) Snitker, in Decorah, Iowa. After her mother passed, Sandy took on the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings.

In 1965, Sandy met Leon Felke while “cruising” in downtown Decorah, “American Graffiti” style. Sandy and Leon married Oct. 3, 1965, and went on to have three girls: Shelley, Kimberly, and Keri.

After raising her girls, Sandy started working outside the home. She held many different jobs: she enjoyed greeting students at Decorah High School while she worked, always good for an extra scoop of the students’ favorite; however, her true love was cooking and baking at Burl’s Diner, which she owned with her daughter, Keri. Sandy was well-known for her famous cookies, pies, and, especially, her hot beef sandwiches.

Sandy liked to collect vintage items with cherries and Santa Claus figurines, and she amassed an impressive display. She also collected antique furniture and enjoyed refinishing the pieces. Sandy loved Alan Jackson’s music, and she and Leon saw him live, in concert. She was a strong dancer and knew her way around the dance floor. Sandy and Leon enjoyed riding motorcycles and attending car shows together.

Sandy’s everyday usually consisted of baking goodies, reading novels in her sunroom with her houseplants, brisk walks with her sisters Karen and Patti, and filling her feeders to watch the birds.

But if you really want to know Sandy, her pride and joy were her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She picked up Kalob from preschool every day, Gunnar and Archer spent Wednesday late-start mornings with “Nini,” and Kaisha would FaceTime her daily. Kane, Kullen, and Brooks love snuggling into Nini for a cartoon or a book. Her grandkids and great-grandkids were the luckiest recipients of her sweets—she always sent home baggies of homemade cookies, banana bread, or muffins.

She delighted in spending time watching her grandchildren and great-grandchildren play sports, venturing far and near to relish in dirt-bike racing (Archer), football (Kalob, Gunnar, and Archer) and soccer (Kaisha and Kane) games, and track and field (Kalob and Archer) and Science Olympiad (Kalob) events. She also traveled with her family to attend a college visit at San Diego State University and frequented family reunions, including a trip out west to Cody, Wyoming, throwing in a drive through the Badlands and Yellowstone. They visited family in West Virginia, hiking mountains and riding a train to The High Falls of the Cheat. One time they stopped in Nashville, Tennessee and took in the sights at Dollywood.

Sandy is survived by her husband—Leon; daughters—Shelley (Kevin) Patten of West Virginia and Kim (Mike) Sims of Decorah; grandchildren—Kalob (Kendra) McCaffrey of West Virginia, Kaisha (Sarah) Benson of Minnesota, and Gunnar (who first called her Nini) and Archer Sims of Decorah; great-grandchildren—Kane and Kullen McCaffrey of West Virginia and Brooks Benson of Minnesota; sisters—Judy Barnhouse, Karen (Sonnie) Ashbacher, Karla (Terry) Fisher, and Patti (Rick) Hughes; and brothers—Greg (Mary) Snitker and Gordy (Mary Moen) Snitker.

Sandy was preceded in death by her parents—Wesley and Marie (Hangartner) Snitker; daughter—Keri Felke; brothers—Gary, Gale, Grant, and Gorman; sisters—Katheryn Vaupel and Janet Larson; sisters-in-law—Janie Snitker and Sharon Snitker; brothers-in-law—Steve Eldridge, Clark Larson, and Fred Barnhouse; and father- and mother-in-law—Errol and Ethel Felke.

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