Irma Darlene (Sillett) Hill

March 21, 1929 ~ June 5, 2023 (age 94) 94 Years Old


Irma Darlene Hill, 94, of Bemidji passed away on June 5th, 2023, at Sanford Neilson Place in Bemidji, MN, after living a full, long, and beautiful life.   

A graveside service for Irma will be held at Greenwood Cemetery on Saturday, July 29th, at 11:00AM, followed by a “Celebration of Life” luncheon at the Bemidji Eagle’s Club (East Entrance), from 12:00-3:00PM.

Irma was born on March 21, 1929, in Des Moines, Iowa to George and Mary “Mae” (Dare) Sillett.  Being born into the decade of the Great Depression, Irma keenly shared stories which included the notoriety of John Dillinger, Speakeasies, and bootlegging heroics during Prohibition.  In 1941, her father bought a resort near Buena Vista and the family moved to Puposky, MN. Irma attended the Buena Vista School through the 8th grade and later graduated from Bemidji High School with the class of 1948. 

Buena Vista School also provided a means for Irma to continue with dance instruction, ice skating, and meeting new friends through Luther League.  It was at the young age of 15, that Irma met the “love of her life,” (her words), Russell Hill; he was a wild and rowdy young man.  Year’s later they would marry at the Puposky Lutheran Church after Russell returned from his Pearl Harbor tour.  Soon after they were transferred to Seattle, WA, where they spent the next 3 years sightseeing and growing their young family.

In 1953 they returned to Bemidji and settled on a 40-acre homestead.  Over the next 30 years, Russell gradually and unbeknownst (wisely) to Irma, enhanced their acreage with the creation of: massive vegetable gardens, extremely dangerous motorsport trails, a highly dysfunctional hobby farm (racoon, blind horse, de-scented skunk, earless cat, 1 lost fox), a winery (where at any time a cork could pop your eye out), a root beer brewery, Olympic size softball field, and oodles of children and friends hiding in their tree forts.  Irma took all this activity in with great stride and patience, and easily went along with the everchanging flow of life. She has always said, “…it was exhausting but I wouldn’t change a thing.”  Through these years, Irma became an exceptional cook, loved sharing recipes and trying new ethnicities, prepared huge family meals with fancy plates and flamboyant tables, loved decorating for holidays, canned anything and everything Russell tugged into the house, played her organ music in one tiny corner of the living room, crafted, collected, and made beautiful dolls for her family and friends.  Irma was not easily rattled.  She didn’t fear life and she didn’t fear death.  She would never tell a lie nor have any reason to.  She wasn’t a leader, and she wasn’t a follower.  She kept her tears and sorrows to herself and provided a lifetime of unconditional love to all that loved her.  She cheered for the underdog, believed in equality, voiced political opinions, was kind, and fair.  Irma was always a good sport.  Forever willing to go along with the flow of life and enjoy the ride.  And, at the same time, she was very content with just being alone, doing her own thing; whatever that darn thing was at the moment.

In her retirement, thanks to having Grandchildren who were very “techy” and avid gamers, Irma conquered Mario Bros, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Facebook, Farmville, and Candy Crush.  Often putting her holiday baking on hold to harvest her crops on Farmville. She faithfully tuned into the drama of Days of Our Lives, critiqued the dance routines of Dancing With the Stars, and always wished that she was just a little bit younger so she could take on the next American Ninja Warrior.

Irma is survived by 3 of her 5 children, Terry, Rusty, and Glory Hill; 13 grandchildren, Tracy Bailey, Trisha (Terry) McCarter, Jestin Bailey (Alicia), Chad LeMay (Cheryl), Tara (Casey) Padilla, Eric (Mari) LeMay, Ashley (Notsobad) LeMay, Jessica (Timothy) Patnaude, Jackie Hill (Eric), Russell (Samantha) Hill, Joshua Hill, Brandon Hill (Karen), and Nicole (Phillip) Jean; 20 great grandchildren, and 10 great-great grandchildren.  Irma is preceded in death by her parents, husband, sister Joy Frink, and her 2 beloved daughter’s Linda (Hill) Bailey and Mary Jo (Hill) Ryan.

A special thank you to the caregivers at Sanford Neilson Place, “You make a world of difference in all that you do, your work is so important to our lives, and you will never be forgotten.”

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