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Verneta M. Hilderbrand

March 29, 1932 ~ June 4, 2022 (age 90)


Verneta Mathilda Elizabeth (Mertz) Hilderbrand, of St. James, MO, passed away on Saturday, June 4, 2022, at the age of 90 years and 67 days at her home in St. James.


She was born in Pine Lawn, MO on March 29, 1932, to Oscar C. and Mary Elizabeth (Fuzner) Mertz. She was the youngest of three children. She graduated from Normandy High School in 1951. Her first job was working at McDonald Douglas as an IBM Key Punch Operator.


On September 29, 1951, she married Howard E. Hilderbrand in St. Louis, MO. Days after their marriage her husband was drafted into the army to serve in the Korean War. She continued working until her first child was born. Together they had seven children. Verneta became a stay-at-home mom while her children were young at their home in Ferguson, MO. During that time, she would babysit neighboring children to earn some extra money.


In 1970, Howard, Verneta and their family moved to St. James, MO so they could raise their family in the country. When the youngest of her children started Kindergarten, she started working for the Head Start Program as a Teacher’s Aide in the Preschool Program. Later in her working career she got a job working as a Dispatch Operator for the St. James Police Department. After a few years, she had an opportunity to start a long career with JC Penney working in several departments. Verneta always looked beautiful dressed in their clothing each and every day. She retired in 1995, to be able to care for her husband, Howard.


Verneta was a beautiful lady full of love and compassion, kind-hearted, had a gentle spirit about her, and nurtured all of her family at any given moment, but also had grit. She enjoyed her family gatherings during the holidays and special occasions. Verneta’s menu was always prepared long before the event happened to make sure she didn’t forget someone’s favorite dish. Her family meant everything to her and she meant the world to them, too. Her daughter, Sue, devoted her entire life to stay with her parents so that they could fulfill their dreams of living at home for the rest of their life, bringing much love and compassion to them, as well as keeping the family together.


Verneta was so proud to become Grandma when her first Grandson, Lucas was born in March, 1978. That was just the start of being a Grandma. She was able to enjoy a total of 12 Grandchildren. As time went on and the Grandchildren started having children, Grandma decided to change it up a bit and be known as Grammy for all of her 31 Great-Grandchildren. Verneta loved babysitting, making their favorite character birthday cakes, getting down on the floor to play building blocks with them, tending to all their Boo-boo’s, but most of all, just their presence made her happy.


Verneta loved her flowers in her yard, to be able to decorate inside and out for all the holidays, feed her fish in her pond, and pick blackberries and blueberries in her yard up until recently.   


She is preceded in death by her parents Oscar C. and Mary E. Mertz; parents-in-law James and Mary Hilderbrand; husband Howard E. Hilderbrand; brother Irvin Mertz, Rea (Mertz) Barro; son-in-laws Carl Auten, Wilburn Barnett and Deon Hollandsworth.


Verneta is survived by her children Mary Hutchison (Vern) of Vienna; Patricia Dressendofer (Glenn) of Vichy; Susan Hilderbrand of the home in St. James; Judy Auten (John) of Brandon, FL; James Hilderbrand (Belinda) of St. James; Debra Firestine (Kent (Sam) of St. James; and Christine Mahaney (Sam (Bo) of Eureka, MO; twelve Grandchildren Lucas Barnett (Crystal) of St. James; Carolyn Harmon (Tony) of Rolla; Sarah Buschmann of St. James; Brian Auten (Abbey) of St. James; Kate Helton (Matt) of Vienna; Heather Clark (Justin) of St. James; Mark Davis (Heather) of Edgar Springs; Daniel Friede (Cynthia) of Pea Ridge, Ark.; Drew Friede of Rolla; Jessica Pohl (Brian); Samuel Mahaney (Megan) of Mebane, NC.; Abby Waller (Travis) of Louisville, KY; thirty-one Great-Grandchildren plus one due later this summer, brother-in-law Bill Hilderbrand (Bunny) in Columbia, IL; and a host of many nieces and nephews.


Memorials are suggested to the American Heart Association and Shriner’s Hospital for Children in lieu of flowers, please.


Visitation for Verneta M. Hilderbrand will be at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 7, 2020, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in St. James, MO


Funeral Mass will be conducted at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in St. James, Mo with Father Brendan Griffey officiating. Pallbearers will be Ethan Barnett, Lucas Barnett, Daniel Friede, Brian Auten, Mark Davis, and Drew Friede. Burial will be in the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Cemetery in St. James, MO.


Online condolences may be entered at www.jonesfunerals.com


All arrangements are under the direction of the Jones Funeral Home in St. James, MO.



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Lying in state
June 7, 2022

10:00 AM
Immaculation Conception Catholic Church
318 East Scioto Street
St James, MO 65559

Funeral Mass
June 7, 2022

11:00 AM
Immaculation Conception Catholic Church Cemetery
707 E. Springfield Rd
St James, MO 65559

June 7, 2022

Immaculation Conception Catholic Church Cemetery
707 E. Springfield Rd
St James, MO 65559

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