Linda Lee Buthman Bedwell died on Monday, July 21, 2014 after a courageous battle with a Parkinson’s-related disease that robbed her of everything but her spirit. She was 79. A Nebraska native and a longtime resident of Omaha, Linda and her husband, Bill, moved to the Minneapolis area in 2011 so that they could be near three of her four children. She died in her home there, with Bill holding her hand and her family at her side.
Linda radiated passion. She completely dedicated herself to each task at hand, from her careers in volunteerism, public relations, women’s fashion and retail to her commitments as a loving wife, mother and friend. Her family was everything to her and she coined the phrase, The Bedwell Fan Club, to remind us that we must always love and support one another, whether to celebrate one another’s victories or to offer comfort each other through difficult times. Her zeal for life was contagious and she could captivate a room with her stories and laughter. She loved nothing more than a healthy debate and it was a sad irony that her disease took her ability to communicate away from her.
Linda was born in Falls City to William A. (Boots) Buthman and Ruth Simanton Buthman on Jan. 25, 1935. An only child, she developed her lifelong love of flowers growing up across the street from the greenhouse that was the family’s business. She attended Falls City High School and was the 1953 Class Salutatorian.
She and her parents spent each summer at the Twin Bay Shores resort in Crosslake, MN, and that area of the country became a large part of her life. Eventually her parents purchased the cabin where they stayed and Linda’s children and grandchildren also spent summers there, fishing, waterskiing, boating and delighting in the area’s natural beauty. Linda never tired of admiring the birch woods or listening to the sound of the Loons calling across the lake. When her father, Boots, died in 1996, the family established Grampa’s Run For The Walleye, an annual 5k race that raises funds to support the Walleye population on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes. The race held its 18th event on July 5 this year.
Linda attended The University of Nebraska, where she majored in Journalism and Home Economics. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, The Kappa Tau Alpha Journalism Scholarship Society, The Sigma Phi Journalism Honorary Socitey; editor of the 1957 “Cornhusker” Yearbook and was elected to the Mortar Board.
She married Bill, her childhood friend and high school sweetheart, on June 9, 1957 and started their married life at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS.
Eventually they settled in Omaha, where Linda contributed significantly to the city of Omaha through her many volunteer efforts. She held several leadership posts with The Junior League of Omaha, including Education Chairman, Provisional Chairman and First Chairman of the Omaha International Tennis Tournament. Her executive positions included Omaha Delegate to the National Junior League Convention, Secretary, Member of the Board of Directors, Vice President and President.
Linda was also a member of the Ak-Sar-Ben Women’s Ball Committee; President of the Girls Club of Omaha; Budget Committee Member for the United Way; Chairman of the Clarkson Hospital Gift Shop; Chairman of the Joslyn Art Museum Family Membership Division; and Chairman of the 2nd Annual Omaha Symphony Designer Showhouse. She served on the Directors’ Boards for the Clarkson Hospital Service League; The Joslyn Woman’s Association; The Omaha Ballet Association; The Omaha Symphony Guild; The Salvation Army Auxiliary and The Omaha Volunteer Bureau.
In 1979, Linda accepted her first paid position as the Public Relations Director that helped re-elect Mike Albert as the Douglas County Commissioner. From 1980-1987 she was a buyer and sales representative, for Topp’s of Omaha, a woman’s fine clothing store. She also worked at Mailboxes, Etc. and The Mole Hole gift shop before retiring in 1999. In retirement, Linda served on the Alter Guild for All Saints Episcopal Church.
In addition to Bill, Linda is survived by her four children, their spouses and her seven grandchildren: Laurie Bedwell Sawatzky (Randy Sawatzky); Marci Bedwell Roesler (Tim Roesler); Todd Bedwell (Chris); and Jeff Bedwell (Nancy); Noah Sawatzky; Carolina Roesler; Madeline Roesler; Sam Tomia; Logan Tomia; Jeffrey Bedwell Jr; and Daniel Bedwell. She also leaves behind many dear friends, who were part of her and Bill’s lives for more than 40 years.
In one of Linda’s last conversations with her oldest granddaughter, she offered some advice that will remain with us always: “Where ever you are, make the most of it.” We’re certain she’s in heaven doing just that.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 28, 2014 at Mount Olivet West, in Victoria, MN and at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at All Saints Episcopal Church, 93rd and Blondo Streets, Omaha.
The family would also like to thank the remarkable caregivers who watched over Linda in her final days. We are grateful for their incredible and compassion, which gave all of us so much comfort.