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Vivian T. King (Hembd)

March 7, 2024 | 10 comments

Our loving Mother, Vivian Thelma King, 89, passed away, Sunday, March 3, 2024. She was born December 10, 1934, “after supper time” her mother used to tell her, in Galesville, WI. She was the second of 7 children, the oldest daughter, born to Earl J & Thelma E. (Polzin)Hembd.

Her family were farmers. After moving around the area for the next few years, they settled into city life on French Island, La Crosse, WI in 1947.

Growing up as an “Islander”, Mom enjoyed taking photos, going to picture shows and babysitting in her neighborhood. She was a proud 1952 graduate of Logan High School.

Vivian married Roger L. King in August 1953. Together, they raised 10 children. In the Fall of 1966, the King Family moved from French Island to the country, to a place we have all come to call, The Farm, in Onalaska, WI. It was there that their 10th child was born. After 30 years of marriage, Mom and Dad divorced.

Our mother had many interests and hobbies she shared with her family and friends. Writing poetry, reading, gardening, playing scrabble, baking, hunting Morel mushrooms, to name a few. She especially enjoyed her cat, Squeaky.

As a big fan of country music, she enjoyed listening to artists like Ernest Tubb, Willie Nelson, Marty Robbins, Loretta Lynn and others.

Green Bay Packer football was a great interest and we kids knew not to call until it was halftime. She also loved watching the Wisconsin Badgers football and basketball games. Summer months brought the Milwaukee Brewers and she took numerous trips to Miller Park with family members to cheer them on. But the Holmen Viking Football team held a special place in her heart. Most Friday nights she could be found cheering them on to victory, while her oldest son coached, and a few grandchildren played. Tho, the battles against the Logan Rangers tested her loyalty.

Mom worked several jobs throughout her 89 years. The Maid Rite Café on La Crosse’s North Side was one of her first ones. She spent a few years at the La Crosse Rubber Mills, making lifelong friendships there. As her children grew, she took a job with the Holmen School District, driving School Bus, a job that lasted 22 years. She also worked, a few years, as a Personal Care Provider for the Visiting Nurses Association in La Crosse. She used to like to say “I’m PCPing for the VNA tonight!”. But above all these, the job she loved the most was farming with her “Best Friend in the Whole World”, Janet. Many years, they spent, side by side, working together, building a friendship few people are lucky enough to share. Once retired, she would still dream of the chores they had to do. After waking one morning recently, she told her daughter, “I’ve done more work with Janet in my dreams, than I ever did when I was actually working with her”.

She welcomed hard work and savored the fruits of her labor. She was proud of her family and treasured her time with them all.

Vivian is survived by her 10 children, Steven (Mary), Marilyn, Betty, Karen (Dave Shefelbine), Sally (Butch) Uhl, Jeffrey, Pamela (Rodney) Naas, Donald (Gena), David (Tammy), Nancy (Michael) Smith, 12 Grandchildren and 15 Great-Grandchildren. She is further survived by siblings, Donald Hembd (Kent, WA), Betty Steele (Black River Falls, WI), and Ralph Hembd (La Crosse WI). Numerous nieces and nephews and her best friend Janet Kloppenburg.

In addition to her parents, Vivian was preceded in death by two brothers, Bob and Russell Hembd, one sister, Shirley Smaby, A great-grandson Dylan King, and a great-granddaughter, Lydia Mishun.

Vivian’s family wishes to give a very special thank you to the caring team of doctors and nurses of the last few years, at Mayo Clinic and Hospital of La Crosse and Onalaska. The care she received was a great comfort to her and her family. Thank you all.

A Celebration of Life for family and friends of Vivian will be held Saturday, March 16, 2024 from 11:00am – 5:00pm at The Farm, N5811 Kings Rd, Onalaska, WI.



  1. Lori Smaby


    Was a very special person. I knew her as a bus driver for the Holmen School District, also as very hard worker, farming for many years.
    I learned so much
    more about her from the beautiful obituary.

    My sister Gena married Vivians son “Don On The Farm” on a beautiful fall day. “ The King’s farm”.
    That day Gena was gifted another Mama “Mama King.” May Vivians family and friends be comforted by your all your memories. In Sympathy and caring, Lori Smaby

  2. Victoria Langenhahn

    I am very sorry for your loss!! She was the most genuine, kind hearted and best hugger ever!! She will be greatly missed!!!

    • Karen King

      Thanks Tori.

  3. Karen King

    Thanks Lori,
    Mom was happy you stopped by while you were in town.

  4. Paulette Johnson

    Had the pleasure of getting to know Vivian while driving bus for Holmen, always a sweet lady with a warm smile for all. Sorry to all of family.

    • Karen King

      Thanks Paulette .

  5. Teresa Woodard (Crawford)

    Sorry to hear if your loss…. I got to now Vivian by living in the same neighborhood (near Moos Rd) and occasionally she was my bus driver. Very sweet lady….she will be missed. Deepest sympathy to all ????

    • Karen king

      Thank you Teresa!

  6. Sandi Auseth

    Your Mom was one special Lady! She was always so positive about life. Her work ethic was extraordinary! She truly loved her family and was so proud to share sweet things about each of you. May you have comfort in great memories. I am hugging you with my prayers!

    • Karen king

      Thanks Sandi!


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