Neva Jean Wise, 83, died Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, at Rockford Memorial Hospital.
Born May 4, 1928, in Dakota, daughter of William and Lula (Tielke) Henze. She was a graduate
of Dakota High School. Lifelong member of St. Paul Church of Epleyanna.
In the 1940s, Neva was a pitcher for the Rock City Rockets; it was then that she met her future
husband Robert, who was umpiring one of her games. On Nov. 20, 1946, she and Robert Wise
were united in marriage at St. Paul Church of Epleyanna. They celebrated 65 years of marriage
two days before her passing.
Her love of music led her to become a country singer/songwriter and national recording artist
under the stage name of "Kitty Hawkins" performing at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville
and WGN's National Barn Dance. She traveled nationally with her singing.
She won the Country Music Festival award in Colorado, and the Country Music Star of Tomorrow
in 1966 from the Country Music Association. She was a songwriter for many country artists
of the 60s including The Wilburn Brothers.
Neva was also a Semifinalist in the Mrs. Illinois Beauty Pageant.
Upon retiring from her professional singing career, she continued singing God's praises
at various churches and special events. For 20 years, she and her husband owned and
operated the Belvidere Travel Agency and Loves Park Travel, which afforded them the opportunity
to become world travelers.
She retired in 1993 to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Surviving are her husband of Loves Park, and
Tarpon Springs; two sons, Russell Wise of California, Robin (Jean Schusler) Wise of Machesney
Park; grandson, Robert John Wise of Roscoe; nephew, Milton (June) Schlueter;
nieces, Sallie (Richard) Battalio, Sandra (Gary) Dotson; numerous great nieces, nephews
and great-great-nieces and -nephews.
Preceding her in death were parents; brother, Roger; and sister, Nellie Schlueter.
Funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at St. Paul Church of Epleyanna, rural Davis,
with burial in St. Paul Cemetery. Visitation from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the church.
The Rev. Scott Naevestad will officiate.
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