Steven Jerome Wilhelmi, 73, passed away peacefully November 9, 2023, in Sherwood, Oregon. He was surrounded by family throughout his hard-fought battle with metastatic melanoma and Parkinson's disease.
A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, November 20, 2023, at Weigel Funeral Home in Mandan. Burial will follow at noon at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, located south of Mandan.
Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service on Monday.
The family invites you to a Celebration of Life gathering at the Mandan Depot immediately following the burial service.
Steve was born December 1, 1949, in Devils Lake, North Dakota, and raised in Minot. The oldest of nine children, his parents were Jerome and Regina (Seykora) Wilhelmi. He is survived by his wife Linda (Hase) Wilhelmi; daughter Sherrie Martel (Kurt), and granddaughter Amelia Martel of Portland, Oregon; brothers Daniel (Debra), Jody (Nancy), Brian (Lynda), and Jeff Wilhelmi; plus many nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Gerald and Randy Wilhelmi, and sisters Susan Sanden and Sandra Wilhelmi.
In April 1970, Steve enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He trained as an air traffic controller at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. His first assignment was to Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota. While there, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
His early tours of duty included Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai AFB in Thailand (1974), where he was exposed to Agent Orange; and Sheppard AFB, in Wichita Falls, Texas (1975 - 1977), where he cross-trained into information services. He was a staff writer for the Sheppard AFB base newspaper, the Sheppard Senator, and was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.
In 1977, Steve was assigned to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, where he became editor of the Ramjet, and was a news media relations specialist. He was selected as an escort for Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes," who reported a story about the Cold War.
While at Ramstein AB, he attended the Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership School at Kapaun Air Station, and was named the top graduate and winner of the Commandant's Award.
In January 1981, he was reassigned to Minot AFB, North Dakota; and in 1986, he transferred to Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, South Dakota.
In October 1988, Steve was assigned to Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska, where he was Superintendent of Public Affairs and was promoted to the rank of senior master sergeant. He retired in November 1992 after nearly 23 years of service. His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
In 1993, he became the Information Officer for the Alaska State Troopers, which included the Department of Public Safety, Fish and Wildlife Troopers, State Fire Marshal, Division of Motor Vehicles, and Division of Administrative Services
From 1999 - 2006, he was an Environmental Community Relations Specialist for the Air Force. He traveled extensively throughout the state conducting informational meetings at remote villages, where he communicated the environmental cleanup efforts of Cold War era Long Range Radar Sites and Radio Relay Sites.
In 2006, Steve and Linda completed the construction of a new home in Ninilchik (on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska) and moved there. He was hired as a summer salesman for Kenai Peninsula Harley Davidson in Soldotna, where he worked until they moved to Beaverton, Oregon, in 2013 to be near their daughter and family in Portland.
Over the years, Steve and Linda traveled extensively in the western and eastern Caribbean, Mexican Rivera, and Hawaii; they also visited several U.S. states by motorcycle and went on six cruises. In May 2017, they vacationed in Europe for three weeks and returned to many places they had visited during Steve's assignment to Germany in the '70s.
Steve enjoyed fishing for salmon and halibut, playing racquetball, camping, bowling, and attending motorcycle rallies. While in Alaska, he successfully hunted black tail deer, moose and bear. He was an avid Minnesota Vikings fan and liked watching western movies.
Until recently, Steve was a multiple cancer survivor. He also suffered from Parkinson's disease caused by his exposure to Agent Orange.
One of his favorite sentiments was, "Live Well, Laugh Often, And Love With All Your Heart."
In remembrance of Steve's life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the Parkinson's Foundation or Wounded Warriors.
To share memories of Steven, view the service livestream and sign the online guestbook, visit www.weigelfuneral.com.