Darlene June (Blakely) Spilker, 92, of Beatrice, NE died peacefully at Beatrice Health and Rehabilitation Center and went to be with her Lord on June 14, 2024.  She was born June 1, 1932 in Beatrice to Stanley and Dora (Buckmeier) Blakely. Darlene attended Headley School and graduated from Beatrice High School in 1950. Immediately following graduation, she attended Peru State Teachers College and taught from 1950-1956, first at District 150 and then at District 71.  During this time she also devoted much of her talents and energy to Luther League and to Sunday School leadership training. She served as president of the Blue Valley Luther League Federation, attended Sunday School Teachers Institute at Wartburg Seminary and was a delegate to the International Luther League Convention in Lansing, MI.  

On May 16, 1956 she married Dewane Spilker at St. John Lutheran Church in Beatrice. The couple moved to the family farm north of Beatrice in 1962, with Dewane growing crops and raising hogs and Darlene fastidiously keeping the books and packing lunch boxes for the men. They were blessed with two children, Scott and Susan.

At St. John Lutheran Church, Darlene was a long-time member of the Sarah-Rachel Circle and especially loved preparing detailed Bible studies for their meetings. She also accompanied numerous music groups, soloists and Vacation Bible School music throughout the years and was sincerely interested and encouraging in the faith lives of all she encountered there.

Darlene was a life-long learner and a life-long teacher. Many students will remember her passion and dedication to teaching and to her pupils, in grade school, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Bethel Bible Series, piano and accordion lessons or even just when visiting her home.

She was a fervent advocate for the Gage County Relay for Life, and many will recall her tenacity in soliciting donations through the countless luminaries she created for the event.

Through her loving and persistent encouragement and example, Darlene instilled in her children and grandchildren a love of music as well as the importance of sharing their talents with the community and with their churches. She maintained an extensive and impeccably organized music library in her home and was always willing to search for any piece of music needed.  She was an ardent fan of the Homestead Harmonizers Barbershop Chorus, attending each performance and church sing-out and fully supporting both her husband and her son in their hobby.

Grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) were a cherished part of Darlene’s life. She was devoted to attending as many concerts, recitals and ball games as possible, sharing books, collecting and cataloging photos and news articles about each child, as well as always stocking up on special treats or gifts chosen for each one. 

Darlene leaves behind one son Scott Spilker and wife Jean of Beatrice; one daughter Susan Ropp and husband Mike of Albuquerque, NM; grandchildren Anna Erikson and husband Brenton, Nathan Spilker, John Spilker, Tom Ropp and Kate Ropp; great-grandchildren Henry Erikson, Rosalie Erikson and Maeve Erikson; sister Eileen Katz and husband Glen, of Beatrice; and several nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her husband Dewane Spilker (2019), and parents Stanley and Dora Blakely.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 am on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at St. John Lutheran Church, Beatrice with Rev. Dr. Renae Koehler and Rev. Arden Dorn officiating. Following lunch at the church, burial will be held at Evergreen Home Cemetery, Beatrice. Visitation will be held Tuesday, June 18 from 12:00 – 8:00 pm at Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel, 708 North 6th Street, Beatrice, with family greeting friends from 6:00 - 7:30 pm.  The family prayer service will be held at 10:15 am, Wednesday at the church.  Memorials are suggested to St. John Lutheran Church and Relay for Life with Sterling and Naomi Kohrs in charge.

Please leave your memories, upload photos, and view her video tribute to help us celebrate the life of Darlene Spilker on her memorial page at www.ghchapel.com. 

These services have been entrusted to the Griffiths-Hovendick Chapel in Beatrice.