Cover photo for Shirley M.D. Lanka's Obituary
Shirley M.D. Lanka Profile Photo
1927 Shirley 2021

Shirley M.D. Lanka

October 2, 1927 — July 19, 2021

Shirley M.D. Lanka, 93, of St. Paul, died Monday, July 19, 2021, at Brookefield Park in St. Paul.

It was Shirley’s wish to donate her body for the benefit of medical science to the Nebraska Anatomical Board in Omaha. Future burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery in St. Paul. Peters Funeral Home of St. Paul is assisting the family.

She was born October 2, 1927 at Wolbach, Nebraska, the daughter of Emil and Elnor (Christensen) Pedersen, and was the oldest of seven children.

Shirley grew up on the family farm, attended school in Wolbach and was a 1945 graduate of Wolbach High School.

She was united in marriage to Edward Lanka on June 15, 1946, and they welcomed three children to this union. The couple began their married life in Omaha and then settled on their farm near St. Paul. During their years of farming, she also worked at the Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant in Grand Island and retired from the Skagway Furniture store in Grand Island after several years of service. The couple moved from the farm into St. Paul, where she lived the rest of her life.

Shirley was a member of Christ Lutheran Church in St. Paul from when it was first established and considered it an honor to serve the church over the years. She was a long-time member of the Hill Trailers Extension Club and the Fun and Learn Extension Club. Shirley enjoyed gardening, sewing, and baking. She was a talented, self-taught artist who enjoyed illustrating and fine art painting in various media. Shirley loved to entertain family and friends at home and it always included “a bite to eat”, a delicious baked good and plenty of generous hospitality. She enjoyed playing cards and board games with Edward and going for rides with him on his motorcycle. Together they enjoyed listening to polka and waltz music for many years. Her caring and cheerful personality with family, friends and neighbors will be greatly missed.

She is survived by her son, Leighton “Lee” Lanka of Grand Island, and daughter, Lori Amico and Karl Grupe of New Hampshire; grandchildren, Steven (Heather) Dolan of Phelps, NY, Kimberly (Darrol) Prusia of Puebla City, Mexico, Lisa (Jeremy) Carpenter of Lincoln, James (Crystal) Buscher of Lincoln, Jennifer (Mike) Jensen of Hurricaine, Utah, Amber Knapp of Lincoln, Christopher Amico of Wrentham, MA, Alexandra Amico of Philadelphia, PA, and 22 great-grandchildren; sisters, Lola Sperling of St. Paul and Kathryn Dubas of Fullerton; and brother, Clayton (Geraldine) Pedersen of St. Paul.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward, on September 27, 2020; her daughter, Lana Cruz, on October 25, 2020; parents and her in-laws, James and Hilda Lanka; sisters Joan (Marvin) Christensen, Phyllis (Otto) Gebhardt, Loraine (George) Wozniak; brothers-in-law, Marvin Christensen, Emil Dubas, Tuffy Beed, Otto Gebhardt and Melvin Sperling; brother-in-law, Jerry Lanka; sister-in-law, Charlotte (Jerry) Lanka.

Memorials are suggested to Christ Lutheran Church in St. Paul.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Shirley M.D. Lanka, please visit our flower store.


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