Grace Marie (South) Watkins, age 76, passed away in her own typical quiet manner - taking her last breath on earth and her first breath in heaven - at her home in Bemidji, MN on December 29, 2022. She was born December 10, 1946 in Crookston, MN to Lyle E. and Beatrice M. South. She married Gary K. Watkins of Becida, MN, on August 22, 1964, he preceded her in death on July 10, 2000. Grace and Gary were parents to Douglas and Diane, who believe that no amount of time with their mom would have ever been enough. Also believing that God, in His great mercy, gave them the best mom they could have ever asked for, and her love for them made every day brighter.
Grace, affectionately known as “Stella,” was a humble, gentle and warm hearted lady who enjoyed shopping the Fingerhut & Swiss Colony catalogs, playing bingo & pull tabs with her friends, admiring her flower gardens, going for scenic drives, cracking open a cold Keystone Light (or two), and she NEVER EVER gave up on expecting Ed McMahon & the Prize Patrol to show up at her front door to present her with her Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes Check. Grace was quite talented at cooking and she showed her fondness of it in feeding others. She experienced great joy in discovering new recipes and she was practically famous at most pot lucks for her Grape Salad, Creamed Cucumber Salad and Potato Salad. If she really, really loved you, a batch of Fried Chicken was planned and prepared for you – “I’m going to make a big mess,” she would say, “but you’re so worth it!”
Grace worked in healthcare for nearly 50 years – it suited her servant heart. She made many friends in her work as a ward clerk at Axtell Christian Hospital in Newton, KS and at Great Plains Regional Medical Center in Elk City, OK, and as a caregiver for Lutheran Social Services in Bemidji, MN until her retirement in 2019. For almost 20 years, she was also a devoted and dedicated caregiver in her home for her oldest child, Douglas.
Grace strived to do what’s right and do what’s good. She woke every morning with the selfless desire to be kind and to help others. She loved to love on people and so her heart and her mind were rarely still. She was always gifting “oh, for cute” dolls and tactile toys for her “need to be busy” residents. They called her “Mom”, and she couldn’t have been happier with her title and all the special duties that went along with her responsibilities in caring for them.
Grace is survived by her son Douglas Edward Watkins of Grand Junction, CO and daughter Diane Marie (Joel) Dyk of Grand Junction, CO; grandchildren Jourdin Myshell Watkins, Nathan Richard (Ripleigh) Wilson, Brady Douglas Watkins, Julia Grace Wolz and Truett Jack Richardson & great-grandchild Franklin Boone Wilson, plus an extended family of cousins, nieces & nephews and great nieces & nephews. All of these, along with her very best girlfriends and brother’s & sister’s-in-law, she loved dearly. She will be thoughtfully missed by so many of us who were impacted by her death in ways we didn’t expect, but are grateful for the years we had together and recognize those are the years that impacted us the most. Like her father in heaven, she truly shared Unending Love and demonstrated Amazing Grace.
Grace is preceded in death by her father Lyle E. (1984) and mother Beatrice M. South (2008), older sister Mary Lou Ronning (2017), older brother Joseph A. Matthews (2017), younger brother Herbert J. South (2015) and her dear friend & companion Jackie D. Higgins (1994).
In honor of our mom, please join us for a picnic celebration of her life on Saturday afternoon, September 9, 2023, from 4 pm to 7 pm at Diamond Point Park’s Sapphire Pavilion, 1720 Birchmont Drive NE, Bemidji, MN. Dress casual, dinner will be served.
Cremation has taken place under the caring direction of Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home.