Cover photo for Cleo Mcmillen's Obituary
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Cleo Mcmillen

October 16, 1933 — May 4, 2022

Winona

Cleo Mcmillen

Cleo LaVonne McMillen (née Heiden)

Cleo LaVonne McMillen passed away May 4, 2022, with her daughter by her side. She was a loving wife to Leland and the adored mother of Heide.

Her enthusiasm for life was evident in her lively gray-blue eyes and quick smile. She showed us what "get up and get going" looked like every morning, when she was younger. She was a "doer" and always had several projects underway.

Cleo was born October 16, 1933, and grew up, one of six children, on a farm near Hart, MN, so she knew about hard work and determination. In 1953, she married Leland and they were together nearly 70 years. They were a great match and supported each other through many career changes, building two homes, and fun travel adventures around the world. He was always first and foremost in her heart.

Her work varied as her family moved around while Leland pursued college degrees and took new teaching positions. She sewed custom draperies for the Emporium in Saint Paul, was Head of Catering at USD in Vermillion, South Dakota, and taught in North Vancouver, British Columbia. When they settled in Winona, she earned an Elementary Education master's degree at Winona State University and a Professional Development master's degree at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse.  She became Director of the Reading and Study Skills Center at Saint Mary's College and was an Assistant Professor in the Education Department. Later she became an Assistant Professor at Winona State University where she was Director of Student Teaching. Her memberships were the Association of Teacher Educators, the Iota Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, and Phi Delta Kappa (Vice President). She retired from WSU in 1996.

All her nieces and nephews were dearly loved by Cleo and she attended every baptism, confirmation, graduation and wedding she could. Friends knew her as a caring person, good listener, and willing helper. She often sent cards and thank you notes written in her beautiful penmanship. Cleo also liked to create a sense of occasion for others. A simple lunch became special when she set the table with linens and china and brought in fresh flowers from the garden. It was one way to show family and friends she valued their time together and made a visit memorable.

New experiences were something she welcomed - especially theater, restaurants, and shopping. Cleo and Leland spent many winters in Arizona enjoying the company of good friends. Before a stroke in 2019, weekends found her at estate sales, gardening, busy in the kitchen or doing anything except sitting still.

We were blessed to be part of her wonderful and generous life.

Cleo is survived by her family: husband, Leland; daughter, Heide (Jay) Epstein; brother, Clifford (Patricia) Heiden; sisters: Ione (Claire) Olstad and Eunice Zicha; and many nieces and nephews.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Leo and Dorathea Heiden; brother, Lester Heiden; sister, Lila Jameson; and niece, Kaye Ronnenberg.

Visitation will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hart, MN, on Friday, May 13, 2022, from 4 PM to 7 PM, and again at the church on Saturday, May 14, 2022, from 10 AM until the funeral service at 11 AM.  Pastor Mark Triplett will officiate.  A luncheon will be held at the church following the service.  A private family interment will be held at a later date.

Online condolences or memories may be left for Cleo’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.

Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Cleo Mcmillen, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, May 13, 2022

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church - Hart

31497 MN-43, Rushford, MN 55971

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Saturday, May 14, 2022

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church - Hart

31497 MN-43, Rushford, MN 55971

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church - Hart

31497 MN-43, Rushford, MN 55971

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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