Kathy Kay ‘Onken’ Wittnebel, 67

Kathy Wittnebel

Kathy Kay “Onken” Wittnebel, age 67 of Burnsville, passed away after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer on Sunday, December 12, 2021, peacefully in her home surrounded by family and friends.

Kathy was born October 1, 1954, in Worthington, MN, to Leslie and Rose (Basche) Onken and was the oldest of 7 children. She graduated from Tracy High School the class of 1972. She immediately attended college in Rochester, MN, and received her 2-year nursing degree in 1974. After graduation, she started working at St. Cloud Hospital, where she met Gary Wittnebel. They married in April of 1977, and lived on the East Coast briefly before moving back and setting up residence in Minnesota.

In Burnsville, they welcomed their four children: Sarah, Beth, Benjamin and Daniel. Kathy worked in many different nursing settings before finding her calling with the students and staff of School District 191.  First at Harriet Bishop Elementary School, followed by Nicolet Middle School where she retired in 2019 after a distinguished 23-year career. While raising four children, she showed how important education is and earned her 4-year Bachelors of Arts in Registered Nursing in 1995, as well as her Masters of Arts in Nursing Leadership with a School Health Focus from Bethel University in 2004. Kathy always had a love for being a nurse and it facilitated many relationships and friendships that lasted decades as well as impacting the lives of the students, families and staff she served.

She was also very active at Christus Victor Lutheran Church, where she sang in Spirit Bound, participated in many Bible studies and was an active committee member. Her big loud family was an integral part of her life.  She enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren as well as her siblings and their families.  She was an enthusiastic Twins baseball fan, a quilter and avid collector of nativity mangers.  But Kathy’s true passion was the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, sometimes making multiple trips in the same year. The boundary waters were where Kathy found her peace, disconnected from the hustle and bustle, and connected with nature. Kathy lived for her faith, family and friends and is greatly missed.

Kathy is survived by her spouse Gary Wittnebel; her children:  Sarah Singleton of (Apple Valley, MN), Beth (Meghan) Wittersen (Minneapolis, MN), Ben Wittnebel (Woodbury, MN), Daniel (Jen) Wittnebel (Cordova, NE), 5 grandchildren: Liam, Wyatt, Jaedyn, Mason and Andrew. She is also survived by her siblings: Marc (Pat) Onken of Lowry, MN, Jim (Di) Onken of Eagle Lake, MN, Barb (Don) McKee of Montevideo, MN, Brian (Linda) Onken of Marshall, MN & Tim (Vicki) Onken of Allen, TX; 13 nieces and nephews and their families.  She is also survived by her sister-in-law Janet Holm of Colorado. She was preceded in death by her Father Leslie (2009), Mother Rose (2018), infant sister Rebecca, Mother-in-law Nora (1989), Father-in-law Werner (1999), Brother-in-law Roger Holm (2014), nieces Kimberly Onken & Molly Onken, great-great nephew Drew Austin.  Blessed be the memory of Kathy (Onken) Wittnebel.

Visitation will be held from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Friday January 14, 2022, at Henry W. Anderson Funeral Home in Apple Valley. Funeral Services will be held at Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, Saturday January 15 at 11 a.m. with visitation one hour prior to service. Please join the family for a celebration of life after the funeral.  Interment will be at a later date in the Fort Snelling Cemetery.