Dolores (Dee) Birkholz, caring and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, compassionate friend and progressive Christian died peacefully in comfort care on September 5, 2020. She is survived by her beloved husband, Gilman; daughter, Mary (Christopher) Thurn; sons, Michael (Vicki) Uselman, Robert (Nancy) Uselman, and Randall Uselman; stepdaughters, Tammy (Tom) Eckert and Trish Birkholz; stepson, Mike (Gail) Hoard; grandchildren, Sara (Erin Richman) Uselman, Kane Halley, Nick Uselman, Abigail Uselman, Noah Uselman, Isaac Uselman, and Nate Uselman; great-grandchildren, Alex and Cassie Richman. Preceded in death by her parents, Bernard and Florence Valaitis; brother, Bernard Valaitis; stepson, Brad Birkholz. Dolores Frances Valaitis was born September 7, 1936 in Waukegan, Illinois to Bernard and Florence (Nee Wojcik) Valaitis. She was raised with Chicago at her doorstep and enjoyed all the city had to offer growing up surrounded by many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Upon graduation from high school and technical college she was working in Waukegan when she met Mike Uselman where he was serving at the Great Lakes Naval Base. They married in 1957 and shortly after returned to Mike’s hometown, Wadena, MN, where they raised their four children. Dee was a hard worker and spent her years in Wadena keeping a warm, welcoming home and was employed for many years as a legal secretary at the Kennedy and Nervig law firm. Mike and Dee divorced in 1981 after which she moved to Edina, MN where she again worked as a legal secretary. She met Gil Birkholz and they married in 1986, continuing to reside in Edina until retirement when they moved full-time to their beloved Big Sandy Lake near McGregor, Minnesota. Dee enjoyed 23 happy years on the lake where she nurtured her garden, experimented with countless new recipes, read voraciously, delighted in bird watching, fished to her heart’s content and welcomed visitors with open arms. She was an industrious, strong, kind and open-minded woman, most content being home and near her loved ones. Her greatest joy was parenting her children and she was proud that she instilled tolerance and acceptance into their upbringing. She was well-loved and will be greatly missed. Due to COVID-19 restrictions a private family celebration of life will be held for Dolores. Memorials to the MS Society and American Lung Association.
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