Winona Belle (Mills) Cerveny passed away on April 24, 2022, after battling congestive heart failure for a number of years. She had been living at The Meadows Assisted Living.
She was an exceptionally strong and loving person. She was the rock and the heart of the family. She gave of herself constantly, helping her children and grandchildren reach their goals and navigate life. And she had the ability to make those in her life feel special.
She had a passion for dancing at a young age. She and a good friend held dance classes at her college. She loved Jitterbug, Foxtrot, Lindy Hop and never lost her sheer delight of moving to music. She also loved to sing hymns in her church choir, (Church of the Good Shepherd/Faith Community Church) and of course, Christmas carols.
She especially enjoyed caring for her grandsons, reading biographies, history and religious works. She loved to take walks, garden, bake and visit her family in South Dakota. She also loved watching Jeopardy! and did that religiously. âIâll call you back when Jeopardy is over!â she would say to her children.
Winona was born on July 25, 1928, to Harry and Edith Mills in Kennebec, South Dakota, the last child of seven. Her father tragically passed away when she was only three years old, which left her mother to raise seven children during the Great Depression. Even though Winona remembered those early years fondly, essentials were certainly not plentiful but her family was loving and emotionally supportive as they persevered. Winona had a very hard time seeing food wasted and as a result inflicted too many left-over meals on her loved ones. Well, if they wanted something different, they could cook it themselves.
Winona lived in Chamberlain, South Dakota during high school and made a life-long best friend, Geraldine Wedmore, who a few years later became her sister-in-law. Gerri encouraged Winona to attend college with her. So, she worked summers, weekends and evenings to pay tuition and board. Winona graduated from Yankton College in 1950 with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Journalism. She was the first in her family to receive a four-year degree.
Winona taught high school for a few years and decided to move to Billings, Montana to be the office manager for a doctorâs office. There in Billings she met her devoted husband, Donald Cerveny, a professional photographer and veteran of the Second World War, who had served on the European front.
They were married in Chamberlain, South Dakota on June 14, 1953. And in 1954 they moved to Sacramento, California to be near Winonaâs sister, Mildred Murphy and her family. They loved Sacramento where they enjoyed raising their two âonlyâ children, Craig, born in mid-fifties and Janet, born seventeen years later. Winona worked for various doctors until the mid-sixties and then took a job with State Teachers Retirement System, where she worked for the rest of her career. She loved her work. She got a tremendous amount of satisfaction helping people. In 1992, two years after her husband of 37 years passed unexpectedly of a heart attack, Winona was diagnosed with breast cancer, and reluctantly decided to retire at 64 to rest, heal and spend more time with her then four grandsons.
Winona is survived by her two children, Craig Cerveny (wife Geri) of Elk Grove, CA and Janet Dismukes (husband Mike) of Sacramento, CA. She was called Grandma Nonie by seven grandsons ranging in age from forty-two to two. They are: Nicholas Cerveny, Jacob Cerveny, Andrew Cerveny, Cory Cerveny, Michael Dismukes, Samuel Dismukes, and the very youngest grandson, Jason Dismukes. Nonie also had two great grandchildren, Lily Cerveny and Drake Cerveny. And one great great granddaughter, Kaleesia born February 25, 2022. A service will be held on May 3rd at 1:00 at East Lawn in Elk Grove.
Winona will be remembered for her constant love and dedication to her family and those close to her. She brought comfort and joy to everyone in her life.