Vonna Jo Moody - April 17, 2010
Vonna Jo Moody, a longtime resident of Wauneta, Neb., and owner of the Moody farm properties, died April 17, 2010, at 60 years of age, after many months of a courageous battle with cancer.
Vonna was an only child, born Aug. 16, l949, to Woodrow and Leola (Smith) Moody.
She attended public schools in Wauneta. She loved taking care of her young 4-H calves, and grooming and riding her horses. She was an excellent rider and enjoyed breeding and training Arabian-Quarter Horse foals. She practiced barrel racing in a pasture near the Moody home and competed in barrel racing events at the Chase County Fair. Vonna also played the piano for the girls glee club and clarinet in the school band.
She graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University at Lincoln, Neb., in 1971, where she was a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and the University Christian Movement. As an undergraduate, she participated in a “Washington-Urban Semester” program in Washington D.C. and performed volunteer work at an inner-city community center.
During the summer of 1970, Vonna was one of 11 college students to participate in the YMCA summer work project in Hong Kong called “Asia 70.” With a Chinese counterpart, she taught English and other subjects to Chinese refugee children on the roof tops of the apartment buildings in Hong Kong.
Vonna also served on the urban ministries staff of the United Methodist Metro Ministry in St. Louis, working in children’s homes, mission schools and hospitals, community centers and on urban and campus ministries.
After graduating from college, she worked in Chicago for about a year and then returned to Nebraska to help run the family farm in Wauneta. In 1997, Vonna was part of a United Methodist mission trip to Tlanqualpican, Mexico, to help the native people with their crops and building projects. According to Reverend Judy Dye, her minister, “It’s very apparent that Vonna had a curiosity about other cultures, a passion for new and diversified experiences, and that she had a heart for the poor.”
Vonna was small in stature but she had a mighty heart and was skilled in all the tasks required to farm the Moody properties. She operated and maintained the machinery required to grow and harvest dryland corn and wheat as well as irrigated corn. The pasture land east of the Moody home provided habitat for dozens of wild turkeys and, after her father died, Vonna maintained his determination to protect them from hunters. She was well known in the Wauneta area for her love of the land, as well by the local hunters for her protection of wildlife.
Vonna had many interests outside of farming. She was a talented shortstop and played on several local softball teams. She also enjoyed playing golf and, with her horsemanship skills, helped out area ranchers during round-ups. She was a charter member of the Women of Wauneta Investment Club. The members of this club comment that “Vonna had incredible intelligence and wisdom. She never spoke without thinking and weighed decisions carefully. She was a no-nonsense business woman, kind-hearted and understated, with a dry sense of humor.” Vonna was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church at Wauneta.
In 2008, Vonna was honored at the Chase County Fair as a recipient of the 2008 Pioneer Farm Family Award given to owners of farms whose property has been in continual ownership and operation by the same family for over 100 years.
During her long struggle with cancer, Vonna was encouraged and assisted by several of her cousins and by her devoted and loving companion, Howard Kaler of Gainesville, Texas.
Vonna was preceded in death by her father and mother, and the following six aunts and uncles: Leonora Endres, E. R. “Bud” Moody, Fosta Miller, Dolly Decker, Wauneta Rowley and Leona Newman.
She is survived by three aunts and uncles: May Belle Pribbeno, Ansel Smith and Jan Blackledge; 18 cousins: Bernice Dorso, Veora Erwin, Rogene Regehr, Vondalie Robertson, Lester Miller, Lyle Rowley, Garth Miller, Georgia Whitcomb, Sherry Berlin, Analice Decker, Jean Adams, Dennis Pribbeno, Mary Gage, Ron Moody, Susan James, Mark Smith, Ann Smith and Mary Lou Blackledge-Kortz.
Vonna was blessed to have many great neighbors in the community and a multitude of supporters in her church family. Being a good neighbor and a steward of the land were two of her passions.
She will be missed for her many quiet acts of kindness and devotion to her family. In the words of Dr. Shelley Kappel of Boulder, Colo., “Kind, caring, compassionate, and courageous—this is how I shall remember dear Vonna Moody. Knowing her has left an indelible imprint of “goodness” on my soul.”
Funeral services were held Wednesday, April 21, 2010, at 10:30 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Wauneta, Neb. with Pastor Judy Dye officiating.
Organist was Mrs. Diana Ham.
Casketbearers were Wesley Wheeler, Rod Wheeler, Karl Polly, Mike Gage, Bob Gage and Jim Gage.
Honorary casketbearers were Jeff Pribbeno and Jack Maddux.
Interment was at Riverside Cemetery, Wauneta, Neb.
Liewer Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.