Colette Anne Illies


Colette Anne Illies, age 88, of Spicer, passed away May 14, at Hilltop Health Care Center in Watkins.

Visitation began at 9:30 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. on May 21 at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Spicer. Interment was at St. Louis Catholic Cemetery in Paynesville. Arrangements are entrusted to the Peterson Brothers Green Lake Funeral Home in Spicer (

Born Oct. 28, 1935, in Greenwald, Colette was the daughter of Herman and Elizabeth Lensing, attended St. Andrews Grade School, and graduated from Melrose High School in 1953. Graduating as a registered nurse in 1956 from St. Francis School of Nursing in La Crosse, Wisconsin, she went on to work at St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, Sauk Centre Hospital, Rice Memorial Hospital, private duty nurse, Paynesville Hospital, Glen Oaks Care Center and finished her 40-year nursing career in 1998 at the Willmar Regional Treatment Center, where she served for 19 years.

On Oct. 13, 1958, Colette was united in marriage to James “Jim” Illies and raised five children in their home on the shores of Green Lake. Their home was host to many family reunions, parties with friends, fishing from the dock (sometimes even legally), and sunbathing on the gentle waves of the crystal-clear water. Colette enjoyed doing handwork, especially hardanger, cross-stitch and embroidery and could often be found canning, playing card games, making candies, visiting casinos and traveling across the United States with Jim. Colette will be remembered by many for her homemade pies and German potato salad.

Colette was a member of Our Lady of the Lakes church in Spicer and, when wintering down south, a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Mission, Texas. She served as a religion teacher, officer of ladies’ guild, Sacristan, Eucharist minister, parish nurse, and parish custodian.  She also volunteered at Rice Hospice, Our Lady of the Lakes church, Bentson Park in Texas, and belonged to the Tuesday Quilters group.  In 2002, Colette started a widow persons group called Mattie’s Gals.

She is survived by five children: Jeff (and Beth) Illies of Spicer; Gary (and Renae) Illies of Sauk Centre; Michelle (and Randy) Norris of Spicer; Joy Woelfel of New London; Jan (and David) Ellis of Colorado Springs, Colorado; 12 grandchildren: Coty, Casey (and Monica) and Bret (and Debbie) Illies; Joshua and Ethan Illies; Trista (and Brodie) Raymond and Erika (and Derek) Lieser; Logan Woelfel; Hunter Fernelius and Jade, Addison (and Alisha) and Aiden (and Brianna) Ellis; 14 great-grandchildren: Lainey and Lucy Illies; Sophia and Wyatt Illies; Brooks and Rory Lieser; Téo, Beckett, Nova and Ronan Ellis; Emma, Caleb, Evelyn and Lucas Ellis; sister-in-law, Lois (Phil) Williams; Brother-in-law Al Beste; besides other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jim, in 2000; grandson, Tyler Woelfel, in 2021; her parents; four sisters: Louise, Anna, Evelyn and Rosella; six brothers: Marvin, Frank, Herman, Arthur, John and Cletus.