“All our days quickly pass, and we fly away. Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
(Psalm 90: 12)
Cleone (Verlee O'Dell Van Winkle) Vollheim passed away peacefully Wednesday September 25, 2019 at the D'Youville Life and Wellness Community shortly after a prayerful visit with her daughter Nancy and Rev. Seok Hwan Hong, pastor of the United Methodist Church in Westford. Two hours later, the staff members gathered with her daughter and Cleone for a poignant commendation. A celebratory quilt was used for the first time to blanket Cleone in love. She was 89.
Cleone was born in Kansas City, MO on August 26, 1930 to Clevah and Jeptha O'Dell, welcomed by older sister Arliene and later joined by younger sister Andrea. There was often music in the family and everyone who knew Cleone was lifted by her love of music. Family lore says that she could sing before she could walk. She was a choir member of Methodist churches in the Midwest before the family moved to Acton in 1972. Even in her last years she was able to sing "The Hallelujah Chorus" from memory on Easter visits to the UMCW.
Cleone met her first husband, Willard "Rip" Van Winkle while he was stationed in the US Army at Ft. Leonard Wood. They married in 1950, and became the proud parents of Wesley Andrew, Nancy Bess and Martha Sue. As a vibrant and socially engaged parent, Cleone served as president of the PTA in IL and later the Acton Woman's Club in MA. After their children were grown, Cleone and Rip traveled extensively, including trips to Europe. The two had been enthusiastic golfers, bridge players and baseball fans for most of their adult lives, and always kept up with the news. Mr. Van Winkle passed in 1985 after 34 happy years of marriage. Cleone married a second time in 1991, to William "Bill" Vollheim, who passed in 2006.
Although diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in July 2006, the disease had most likely begun in the years beforehand. Remarkably, Cleone maintained her dignity throughout this long journey.
It surprised everyone in 1985 when Cleone auditioned for Theater III’s production of The Music Man. The movie had been significant to the family because of the line, “River City? This isn’t even Dubuque!”, where the family had once lived. In preparing for the role of the mayor’s wife, the loopy Eulalie MacKecknie Shinn, Cleone chuckled that this person was ‘a real character’ and savored leading one song after another with exuberance.
Cleone is survived by her children, Wesley Andrew Van Winkle and wife Whitney Gould; Nancy (Van Winkle) Burns and her husband David, their son Brian and wife Erica with daughter Kira; and Martha Van Winkle and husband Charlie Van Dusen; Cleone's sister Andrea O'Dell; and three nephews, William, Robin and James Bryant and their families. She was predeceased by her sister Arliene (O'Dell) Bryant, her husband Capt. Harold F. Bryant.
The wake and services will take place at the United Methodist Church, 10 Church Street, Westford, Visiting hours are on Sunday, Sept. 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on Monday, Sept. 30 from 9 to 10 a.m. The funeral will follow, from 10 to 11 a.m. Graveside services at Woodlawn Cemetery in Acton Center will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to either the Alzheimer's Association of MA, 309 Waverley Oaks Road, Waltham, MA 02452 also online at alz.org; to D'Youville Life and Wellness Community at 981 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854; or to the United Methodist Church, 10 Church Street, Westford, MA 01886. Memorial page actonfuneralhome.com