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Wanda E. McNeill, 72, of Rockford, died at home on Thursday, January 5, 2017 of pulmonary fibrosis. Wanda was born in Sioux City, Iowa on February 21, 1944, the second daughter of William Wiley Edwards and Louise (Herbold) Edwards. She was reared in rural communities east of Sioux City and graduated from Moville High School in 1962. She graduated from Iowa Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing in Des Moines and became a Registered Nurse. In 1966 she went to Yancey County, North Carolina as a VISTA volunteer. After a couple years, she joined the Yancey County Public Health Department and was one of the founders of a local Hospice Agency. In April 1972, she married Frank McNeill and they became foster parents to twelve children, one of whom they lovingly adopted, Chris. In the early 1980's she was called to the ministry. She graduated from Gettysburg Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, PA with a Master's of Divinity. Before ordination she served at All Saints Lutheran Church in Bowie, MD. In 1990 Wanda was ordained into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and was called to the Lutheran Church of Reformation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. While there, Wanda along with Roger Truehart was instrumental in starting Southeast Ministries, a social justice ministry in the inner city. In 2005 Wanda graduated from Lutheran School of Theology in Philadelphia with a Doctorate of Ministry degree. In 2007, she was called to Lake Preston/North Preston Lutheran Churches in Lake Preston, SD. She retired in 2014 and moved to Rockford, IL where she served as interim pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church until August 2016. Wanda will be remembered for her love of preaching, her generosity, her concern for the disadvantaged, and her gifts from the kitchen (bread baking skills) among other things.
She is survived by her son, J. Chris (Lisa) McNeill of Winston-Salem, NC; sister, Stella (Charles) Schroeder of Rockford; niece, Laura (Brian) Brown of Platteville, WI; nephew, David (Beth) Schroeder of Cherry Valley; great-nieces and nephews, Victoria Schroeder, Benjamin Schroeder and Caitlin Brown; along with numerous cousins. The family would like to give a special thank you to Victoria Schroeder and OSF Hospice.
Memorial service will be at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, January 16, 2017, in Bethlehem Lutheran Church, with Rev. Twila Schock officiating. Visitation will be prior to the service from 10:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in the church. Memorials to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4620 20th St. Rockford, IL 61109.

Condolences & Shared Memories (13)

  1. Pr. Barron Maberry

    Sorry to hear about my colleague at Reformation, D.C., Wanda McNeil. We worked together starting new ministries, Wanda the Southeast Ministry, and I the Capitol Hill Wholistic Health Center. I very much enjoyed our working and colleague relationships and thank God that "her" SE Ministry is still going strong...

  2. Marilyn Moeller

    Pastor Gene and I enjoyed our time working together with Pastor Wanda in various ministerial projects and worship services in Lake Preston, SD. Our sincere condolences and prayers for grace and peace as family and friends grieve her loss and celebrate her life with memories, shared stories and love. Blessings...

  3. Messiah of Mountains

    Wanda was an inspiration to us at MMLC. We thank our Good and Gracious God for sending her and her parents to us in our beginning years and know she is Leaning in His Everlasting Arms.

  4. Barb Oltmanns

    Stella, Please accept my sincere sympathy at the loss of your sister. May your happy memories help comfort you. Sincerely, Barb

  5. Martha and Larry Ploor

    Larry and I were privileged and honored to present Wanda for ordination in the firehouse that was being used for services until the construction of All Saints Lutheran Church in Bowie. She was a blessing to all and greatly enriched our lives. Her memory will live on.

  6. Jim and Bonnie Johnson

    Dear Stella and Chuck ~ So sorry to hear about the loss of your precious sister and sister-in-law. Wanda sounds like an absolutely wonderful woman who met the right partner and lived an extraordinary life. I am sure you were blessed to have each other. Prayers for your comfort. Blessings to you both.

  7. Jeff Lea

    I met Wanda the third Sunday of Advent 1993 on my first visit back to the Church in about 10 years. She grasped my hand and said, "Now who are you?" She was instrumental in my return to the faith. Subsequently I worked for her at Southeast Ministry teaching GED classes and the A-MEN! job readiness program. Wanda was always open to listening, warm in her help, strong in her compassion, and was a major reason why I am a Christian today and work with people with disadvantages. My prayer go out for the rest of her soul and my condolences to her family and friends.

  8. Judy Edwards Hancock

    My sweet cousin Wanda came to my wedding in Joplin, MO , 51 years ago today with her parents and will now be with them again. What a blessing to be a Christian and know that I will see her again. She was a special cousin and I treasure the memories we made.

  9. Dave Stawick

    Wanda is remembered gratefully for her gracious work in Washington, DC at Church of the Reformation and Southeast Ministries. She was also a great, tremendously encouraging friend to me in my ministry path. One of her favorite ways of starting prayers was "Good and gracious God..." which I have borrowed many times myself in leading prayers since. Well done, my good and faithful servant. Thank you, good and gracious God, for giving us The Rev. Dr. Wanda E. McNeill.

  10. Joanna Sacks

    Wanda officiated at my wedding in Washington, DC in 1993. In later years when we would see her, she always shared that she knew our marriage would stick. She was a lovely woman and I will always remember her fondly.

  11. Shari Jensen

    She was the most caring and understanding pastor, she came to Lake Preston Lutheran Church in South Dakota a year after my husband died. She helped me though a lot, I will never forget her. She confirmed both my children. My prayer are with the whole family.

  12. ruth young

    love to hear her peach and and enjoy the adult coloring book lunch we had and the class she taught she will be miss

  13. Marlene Park

    I count myself doubly blessed to have met and worked for few days with Wanda in Washington, D.C. on a Lutheran women's convention and to have her come to Rockford where we could fellowship with other retired clergy & spouse. Blessed be her memory.

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