You have to laugh at yourself, and boy, did she ever.

Cecilia, Cea, CeCe, Mom, Grandma, Big-Grandma, Grandma Toast, Pama Read—that’s who she was to us, who she was proud to be, and how we’ll always remember her. She passed away on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in the gentle care of Fargo Hospice House.

Cea was born on January 9, 1931, to William and Mary (Michels) Hensel, on the farm in rural Park Rapids, MN. She was the second youngest of ten children—eight brothers and a sister. She walked to school down the road, and her morning job was pumping water for the family—the first example of her lifelong service to others.

As she grew, she loved being outside, tending the garden, cross-country skiing on skis her dad made, and yodeling while hanging out the laundry. (She never yodeled for others, but if she didn’t know you were there, you got a treat.)

She also loved to dance, and she met Harold L. Ziegler on the dance floor in 1951. We’re not sure he swept her off her feet that night or not, but they were married on January 26, 1953—a marriage spanning 54 years and countless square dances, family gatherings, games of pinochle, loaves of fresh bread, and laughter.

Cea and Harold moved to a farm in rural Wolf Lake in 1954. That small home and humble dairy operation was her happiest place, with long rows of lilacs, a big garden to feed everyone, and her family—six children who were her joy. Lorie (Jim), James (Marsha), Harold M., Kelly, Cherlyn (Perry), and Lee (Ingrid).

She took care of her family and the farm until 1977, when they moved to Acorn Lake, near Frazee. It was around that time that she was hired by the University of Minnesota to help low-income families learn to cook nutritious meals. When the program ended nine years later, she went to work for Barrell o’ Fun, where she learned to help families eat potato chips.

She retired at 71—the oldest employee on the line—and still she took care of her family, a family that has now grown to ten grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren. She also continued to care for residents of the Frazee Care Center and the community as a whole. In 2011, she was named Becker County Outstanding Senior Citizen for her volunteering.

She was a woman of deep faith, deeper compassion, and the rare ability to tell you exactly what she thought. She knew how to laugh. She knew how to love. She knew how to live.

Cea is proceeded in death by her husband; one son, Harold (who passed away 44 years ago to the day); her parents; and each of her siblings. She is survived by hundreds who love her.

When you think of her, think of her laughing and how she always laughed hardest at herself. She never put herself above others, and maybe that’s why she worked so hard to take care of them. That’s who she was, and that’s what we’ll remember.

We’re not crying Mom, we’re laughing. You showed us how, and we’ll be alright.

Services were held on Monday, April 8, 2024.

Furey Funeral Home in care of Arrangements.