Rev. Wanda E. McNeill, 72, of Rockford, Illinois, died at home on Thursday, January 5, 2017, of pulmonary fibrosis.
The memorial service was held at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 16, 2017 in Bethlehem Lutheran Church with Rev. Twila Schock officiating. Memorials can be sent to Bethlehem Lutheran Church (4620 20th St., Rockford, IL 61109). Olson Funeral & Cremation Services, Ltd. assisted the family in arrangements.
Wanda was born in Sioux City, Iowa on February 21, 1944. She was the second daughter of William Wiley Edwards and Louise (Herbold) Edwards.
She was reared in rural communities east of Sioux City and graduated from Moville High School in 1962. She graduated from Iowa Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing in Des Moines and became a registered nurse.
In 1966, she went to Yancey County, North Carolina as a VISTA volunteer. After a couple of years, she joined the Yancey County Public Health Department, and she was one of the founders of a local hospice agency.
In April 1972, she married Frank McNeill. They became foster parents to twelve children, one of whom they lovingly adopted (Chris). In the early 1980’s she was called to the ministry.
She graduated from Gettysburg Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, PA with a Master’s of Divinity. Before ordination she served at All Saints Lutheran Church in Bowie, MD.
In 1990, Wanda was ordained into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and was called to the Lutheran Church of Reformation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. While she was there, Wanda was instrumental in starting Southeast Ministries, a social justice ministry in the inner city, along with Roger Truehart.
In 2005, Wanda graduated from Lutheran School of Theology in Philadelphia with a Doctorate of Ministry degree.
In 2007, she was called to Lake Preston/North Preston Lutheran Churches in Lake Preston, South Dakota. She retired in 2014 and moved to Rockford, Illinois, where she served as interim pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church until August 2016.
Wanda will be remembered for her love of preaching, her generosity, her concern for the disadvantaged, and her gifts from the kitchen (including her bread baking skills) among other things.
She is survived by her son, J. Chris (Lisa) McNeill of Winston-Salem, NC; sister, Stella (Charles) Schroeder of Rockford; niece, Laura (Brian) Brown of Platteville, WI; nephew, David (Beth) Schroeder of Cherry Valley; great-nieces and nephews, Victoria Schroeder, Benjamin Schroeder and Caitlin Brown; along with numerous cousins.
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