Published: Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Loretta H. Neir, aka,, the “cookie lady,” was born to Patrick and Margaret Holmes Sept. 7, 1921, in South Bend, Ind. From there, her family moved to the north side of Chicago, Ill.
In her early 20s, Loretta met her husband-to-be, Leonard Neir, whom she married Aug. 14, 1942. As a newlywed, she traveled across the country with Leonard, her sister Eleanor and her brother-in-law Milo Banakis to settle in the Puget Sound region of Washington. There, Loretta worked in a glove factory to support the war effort, while Leonard worked in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash. After the war, the foursome returned to Illinois and the young couple built their home in Elmhurst, Ill., and started their family. Their only son, Thomas L. Neir, was born in 1949.
After her husband’s death Oct. 22, 1955, Loretta’s sister Phyllis Holmes moved in with Loretta to help raise Tommy. Soon after, Loretta began her career with the Keebler Co. It was during her employment at Keebler that her family and friends affectionately dubbed her the “cookie lady.”
Throughout her life, Loretta was an active member of the St. Domitilla Parish of Hillside, Ill. She was a member and volunteer at the Custer (S.D.) Senior Center. She also supported numerous charitable organizations such as The American Legion, Boys Town, Disabled Vets and The Red Cross.
In 1986, Loretta retired, took a trip to Hawaii and began enjoying her granddaughters, Gillian and Jaime, full-time. Grandma Loretta, along with her sister, Aunt Phil, took the two of them on countless adventures throughout Chicago, creating lasting memories for the four of them.
In 2005, Loretta moved to Custer to live with her son, Thomas, and daughter-in-law, Kathy.
Loretta was a “mom” to many and a friend to all. Her sense of humor, her kind-hearted generosity, her strength and her love of family will be missed by many.
Loretta died Jan. 24, 2013, at Custer Regional Senior Care, where she had lived since October 2012. She was 91.
Loretta is survived by her son, Thomas L. (Kathy) Neir; granddaughters, Gillian (Michael) Behling and Jaime (Nathan Bauer) Neir; great-grandsons, Zach, Alec and Liam Behling; eight loving nieces and nephews; and 19 great-nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at McColley’s Chapel of the Hills in Custer at 2 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31, with Fr. Pat Coy officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Custer Senior Center.
Written condolences may be made at www.mccolleyschapels.com.
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