Aileen Huinker, 81, died Tuesday March 18, 2014, after a long and courageous battle with progressive supra-nuclear palsy (PSP), a rare degenerative disease of the brain that affects movement, balance and vision. A Mass of Christian Burial was at 11 a.m., Saturday, March 22, at St. Aloysius Catholic Church, Calmar, with Rev. Donald Hawes officiating. Mass servers were Jaron Timp, Dylan Hageman and Tayton Bullerman. Organist was Jeanette Dietzenbach. Guitarist was Trevor Huinker. Pianist was Morgan Kramer. Violinist was Aubrey Ellickson. Prelude music was “You are My Sunshine,” “Somewhere My Love” and “Red River Valley.” St. Aloysius Choir sang “Amazing Grace,” “On Eagle’s Wings,” “How Great Thou Art” and “Edelweiss.” Lector was Dave Huinker. Offertory gift bearers were Aileen’s grandchildren. Eucharistic ministers were Dave Huinker, Bert Huinker, Kay Heying and Patty Frana. Memorial tribute was by DeAnn Huinker. Casket bearers were Aileen’s grandchildren: Trevor and Travis Huinker, Ian and Aubrey Ellickson, Chad Smith and Justin Huinker, Bryce and Morgan Kramer, Kendra, Evan and Cale Gaskill. Interment was at St. Aloysius Catholic Cemetery in Calmar. Arrangements were handled by Schluter-Balik Funeral Home, French Chapel, Calmar.

Aileen Ann (Vrba) Huinker was born to Adolph and Mayme (Hayek) Vrba Dec. 14, 1932, on the family farm near Fort Atkinson. Aileen proudly graduated high school in Fort Atkinson. At the young age of 14, she met the love of her life, Ken Huinker, a lanky, baseball-playing, farm boy from Festina. From that very early age, Aileen and Ken were never apart. They married Sept. 1, 1953, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Fort Atkinson. Aileen and Ken lived most of their lives together on a farm near Calmar. Aileen was a receptionist for the dentist in Calmar before having children. Afterward, she worked at the Northeast Iowa Community College. Aileen was a member of the St. Aloysius Rosary Society, Catholic Order of Foresters, Catholic Daughters of America and Winneshiek Medical Center Auxiliary. Aileen and Ken loved their five children and adored their 11 grandchildren. They never missed an opportunity to jump in the car to drive to another event, be it sporting, music, school plays or birthdays. They very much treasured their wonderful friends, with fond memories of card clubs, ball teams and bus trips. Aileen was an avid flower gardener, loved to embroider and was a daily walker until her knees slowed her down. Aileen had a genuine interest in all who graced her home and her house was constantly full of conversation and happiness. Times were most joyous when the whole family would descend for the holidays. We will never forget the hours (and hours) of card playing (often Euchre or 500), winning prizes (usually Avon), and eating non-ending supplies of delicious food. You were always welcome in her house, which was filled love and laughter.  Even in the last phases of her disease, though she could no longer speak, she had a light in her eyes. That spontaneous smirk, giggle, or burst into a belly laugh when something tickled her funny bone was always worth the wait. Even to the end, there was joy. She always will be loved and greatly missed. 

Aileen is survived by her daughters: Darla (Glen) Ellickson, Decorah; DeAnn Huinker, Milwaukee, Wis.; Debra (John) Huinker Gaskill, Cedar Rapids; sons, Dave (Darcy) Huinker, Decorah and Dale (Blanche Smith) Huinker, Reedsburg, Wis.; grandchildren: Trevor (Linnea) Huinker, Travis Huinker, Ian (fiancé, Sakinah Haque) Ellickson, Aubrey Ellickson, Chad Smith (friend, Courtney Sacheli, her son, Bryson), Justin Huinker, Bryce and Morgan Kramer, Kendra, Evan and Cale Gaskill; sister, Shirley (Joe) Praska, Elma; sisters- and brother-in-law: Shirley Kuennen, Ossian; Lori Huinker, Festina; Mary Rice, Tripoli; Art (Ann) Huinker, Peosta.

Aileen was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth Huinker, July 3, 2009; parents, Adolph and Mayme (Hayek) Vrba; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Leo and Mathilda (Einck) Huinker; brother, Roger Vrba; sister-in-law and brothers-in-law: Irene and Art Bruess, Linus Huinker, Al Kuennen and Larry Rice; two nieces, Susie Bruess and Tammy Huinker.