Valeri Ann Entzel, 68, a lifelong Mandan resident, passed away peacefully with her family by her side after a short stay at a Mandan care center. Her unwavering faith in God’s plan for her, her strength of character, and the love of and for her family helped carry her throughout her difficult 21-year health journey. In the end, Val called the shots, her illness did not win. She fought hard through great health struggles, stayed positive, and had 20 more years with her family than many ever expected. The evening of her passing, an unexpected storm rolled through, a “gulley washer” as she’d call it. God was preparing for her arrival to her well-deserved place in Heaven. Val could finally take a deep breath as she rode that storm to her eternal resting place.
A funeral service will be held at 11 AM on Monday, August 29, 2022, at First Lutheran Church, Mandan, with Pastor Phil Leer officiating. Burial will be at Mandan Union Cemetery. The service will be live streamed at the bottom of Val’s obituary page on the funeral home’s website.
Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 PM on Sunday, August 28, 2022, at First Lutheran Church in Mandan with a prayer service and time of sharing at 6:30 PM. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Monday.
Valeri was born February 12, 1954, the second of nine children to Pete and Dawne (Dahlen) Voigt. Raised along the Heart River bottoms southwest of Mandan, Valeri learned how to work hard and lend a hand when needed. With younger siblings and a home that always welcomed company, she became a caretaker and a hostess, traits she mastered throughout her life.
Val attended Highland Country School, one year at St. Mary’s High School, and graduated from Mandan High School in 1972. In the fall of 1971, Val’s Dad invited Donald Entzel, a young man he knew from the sales ring, to come coyote hunting at their place. Don says he took one look at Valeri and the rest was history. Don spent that winter driving the rough gravel roads down to their house for dates and come spring, he knew he wanted to marry Valeri as well as not spend another winter driving those roads. On June 16, 1972, Valeri and Don were married at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan. They made their home on the Entzel family farm north of Mandan where they shared the next 50 years. Their marriage endured many ups and downs including the stress of farming and ranching, a house fire in 1975 that forced them to start over and rebuild the home they raised their four children in, retiring from farming and finding new careers, business ownership/partnership, as well as major illnesses. They celebrated their 50th wedding Anniversary in June with their children and grandchildren. Valeri was giving of her time and talents, serving as a 4-H leader, on the Morton County Fair Board, chaperoning FFA trips, and anything her family and children were involved in. Val worked as an administrative assistant for the Morton County Extension Agent for 13 years. In 2000, she and Don started Entzel Trucking and she was the full-time bookkeeper, secretary, and shuttle driver. Val also enjoyed working a rural mail route for the Mandan Post Office for a short time. Her home was always open to visitors and friends and with a kitchen full of baked goods and a homecooked meal every night, there were often a few extras around and Val was a “Mom” to many of her kids friends. Val was always willing to teach her talents to others and gave many baking and canning lessons.
Val was the epitome of a dedicated farm wife and homemaker. She put everyone’s needs before her own, made you feel welcome in her home, and fed fantastic homecooked meals to the masses whether it was in her dining room, field, or the corral. Her favorite place was in the kitchen or her garden and she was well known by family, friends, and neighbors for many things she cooked, baked, and canned, especially her scotcharoos, blonde brownies, Polish dill pickles, strawberry rhubarb jelly, chicken noodle soup, breads, and the many German kuchen she made each year for the “hunting cabin”. Val made “Apple Pie” liquor that she and Don gave as a Christmas gift to friends and business associates. Above being a devoted wife, she was the best Mom and Grandma, a role she cherished. She had a special bond with each child and grandchild, always looking for ways to connect or spoil whether it was a sweet note in a card, a phone call to look at the moon, her famous back scratches as every kid would snuggle up next to her, and the “fancy” glass bottle root beer and unique treats she’d find for the grandkids. Each grandchild received a handmade baby afghan. She was never one to raise her voice or dole out punishment. She was easy to be around, easy to please, and generous with her praise and compliments.
Don and Val enjoyed a few trips through their lives including a feedlot helicopter tour, Cozumel, Hawaii, several Nascar trips, Pennsylvania Amish Country, Washington, DC, and in 2015 Val got her bucket list trip cruise to Alaska with her mother, two sisters, three nieces, and her daughter, Jessie.
Perhaps the most lifechanging event that in some ways defined Val, but took forever to slow her down, is when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2000. Over the next 21 ½ years she endured countless hospitalizations and surgeries. You could never count Val out! Every time she was told “this is the end”, she rallied and recovered. Val was an inspiration to many, especially others with lung issues.
Blessed to have shared in her life is her husband of 50 years, Donald Entzel, Mandan; their four children, Carey (Monte) Weiand, Travis (Stephanie) Entzel, Josh Sr. (Stephanie) Entzel, and Jessie (Bill) Hilfer, all of Mandan-Bismarck; 12 grandchildren, Alicia Weiand (Hayden Blotsky) and Katie Weiand (Ian Dahners), Grace, Lucas, Madalin, and Hazel Entzel, Josh Jr., Jordan, and Jaycee Entzel, and Kaden, Ryan, and Liam Hilfer; her siblings, Vicki (Richard) Clarys, Olive, MT, Arni (Bert) Voigt, New Salem, Becci (Wayne) Braun, New Salem, Owen (Becky) Voigt, Helena, MT, Lynette Voigt, Bismarck, Milo (Tammy) Voigt, Mandan, and Luke (Shauna) Voigt, Mandan; her Goddaughter, Emma Keller; dear friends, Gail Schatz and Diane Schmidt; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless friends.
Valeri was preceded in death by her parents, Pete and Dawne Voigt; brothers, Jay and Pat Voigt; and infant granddaughter, Joselin Entzel.
Memorials are preferred to Val’s family that will be used for a memorial garden and park in the Entzel Acres subdivision, north of Mandan.
The family wishes to thank Valeri’s surgeon, Dr. Michael Brown, pulmonologists, the late Dr. Somsak Kriengkrairut, Dr. Monica Paulo, and Deb Fueller, FNP-C, Dr. Laura Archuleta, and all of the respiratory staff and therapists, especially Roxy and Lori, with Heart & Lung Clinic & St. Alexius. A special thank you to Val’s niece, Amanda Keller, and “Girl Friday”/caregiver, Carlee Gifford for assisting the family and helping to keep Val in her home until recently.