Ainsworth Star Journal

Graveside services for Evelyn L. Pancake, age 79 of Omaha, NE will be held on Saturday, November 1st at the south cemetery in Ainsworth, NE at 2:00 p.m. Fellowship will follow at the Parkside Berean Church located at 247 N. Richardson Drive in Ainsworth. Evelyn is preceded in death by her parents, George and Alice Weber; son, Kevin Pancake; daughter, Roxanne Pancake. She is survived by: husband, Clarence Pancake; sons, Willy (Kim) Pancake and Kelley (Katrina) Pancake; grandchildren, Kyle (Rianne) Pancake, Kaycee Pancake, Billy (Kenneth) Pancake; great-grandson, Jackson Pancake; brother, Mike (Edlyna) Weber; sister, Ellen (Jim) Gardner. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, send donations to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Franklin Dean Graff, age 93, passed away October 17, 2014 in the Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, NE as the result of an automobile accident. He was born on June 1, 1921, at the ranch north of Johnstown, NE to Arthur “Chuck” and Velma (Casselman) Graff. He spent his childhood on the ranch at Plum Creek, and graduated from Johnstown High School in 1939. After graduation, Dean went to California to work in a B29 airplane factory. In January of 1943, Dean joined the United States Navy and served as an airplane mechanic on escort carriers in the Pacific until January of 1946. He was honorably discharged as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate E First Class. He then served in the Navy Reserve from 1947 to 1952. On March 16, 1947, Dean married Jacquelyn Petersen. They spent their first years of marriage in Omaha, where Dean was employed by the Veterans on the Job Employment Service. While in Omaha, Dean and Jackie welcomed their first child, Connie. In 1950, the three returned to Brown County and started farming. During this time they welcomed Kathy, Merrilee, and Marty. In the fall of 1960 they moved to the family farm. From 1964-1967 Dean and Jackie operated the Ainsworth Development Farm in cooperation with the Nebraska Advisory Committee on Irrigation Development. While working the farm Dean also worked as a census taker and Field Recorder for the ASCS. Dean became manager of the KBR Soil & Water Conservation District, the Brown County Weed District, and later, the Middle Niobrara Natural Resource District. As Manager of the Middle Niobrara NRD, he was project coordinator for the Cub Creek Project in Keya Paha County and the Sand Draw West project north of Johnstown. After retirement in 1986, Dean and Jackie traveled and did mission work in Texas and Louisiana. In 1995 he became employed as “Mr. Fix It” for the Maintenance Department of the Brown County Hospital until 2005. In 2001, Dean was honored to receive the Caring Kind Award from the Nebraska Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. He also received the Aksarben Good Neighbor Award and the Ainsworth Chamber Senior Citizen Award. In 2005 Dean and Jackie moved to their home in Ainsworth, NE. Throughout his lifetime Dean remained very active. He enjoyed dancing, especially the polka. He loved a good game of cards. He and Jackie attended as many of the grandchildren’s activities as possible. In his later years he enjoyed going to the Senior Citizen Center for meals and social events. Dean also loved tinkering with projects in his garage such as woodworking, small engines and home repairs. Dean felt giving to others was important. For his 90th birthday Dean requested canned goods in lieu of a card shower. The result was a donation of over 100 lbs. of food for the Brown County Food Pantry. Dean was a lifetime member of the Johnstown United Methodist Church where he was influential in modernizing and adding a basement to the church in 1956. He was a member of the Brown County Ag Society, where he was an officer for many years. Dean served on the Board of Directors of KBR Rural Electric Association for 30 years. He was a Past Master of Wood Lake Masonic Lodge #221, and a member of the Ainsworth American Legion Post #79, Elks Lodge #1790, Johnstown Fire Department and Johnstown Alumni Association. Dean is survived by his wife Jackie of 67 years; four children, Connie (Brad) Dillon of Ainsworth, Kathy (Bill) Burchell of Ainsworth, Merrilee Spanel of Omaha, NE, and Marty (Brenda) Graff of Ainsworth; grandchildren Jim and Jennifer Rau, children: Jesse and Jade; Deena and Ric Fritz, children: Dilan, Rachel, Bryson Fritz, Harley Svenson; Tom and Tammy Burchell, daughter: Maddy; Christy and Bub Killion, sons: Taylor and Pete, daughter: Morgan and AJ Stevens and their son Glen, (Dean’s Great-Great-Grandson); Emily and Dean Johnson, daughter: Katrina Keogh; Jodi Spanel, sons: Juston Spanel and Kamren Hamlin; T.J. and Shannon Spanel, sons: Evan and Aidan; Jamie Spanel; Jake and Jeri Graff, daughters: Ava and Elsie; Lucas Graff, Micah Graff,and Noah Graff; sister, Glee Swanson; sister-in-law, Jeanne Graff; and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins. Memorial services with Masonic Rites by the Wood Lake Masonic Lodge #221 and Military Honors by the Navy Funeral Honor Team and the Ainsworth American Legion Post #79 were held on October 24, 2014 at the United Methodist Church in Ainsworth. Pastor Eldon Davis officiated the service. Music was provided by Marilyn Williams, Bob and Duane Keim. Special song selections were, “We Are Going Down the Valley” and “It’s Not the Last Mile.” Congregational selection was “God Be With You Til We Meet Again.” Honorary bearers were James Rau, Rick Fritz, Tom Burchell, Bub Killon, Dean Johnson, TJ Spanel, Jamie Spanel, Jacob Graff, Lucas Graff, Micah Graff and Noah Graff. A private family inurnment was held at the East Woodlawn Cemetery near Johnstown. In lieu of flowers, memorials were suggested to the Johnstown United Methodist Church, the Ainsworth Senior Center, Brown County Ag Society, East Woodlawn Cemetery or to the Brown County Hospital in Dean’s name. Hoch Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.

Wilda Jeanette (Williamson) Nelson was born December 6, 1922 to Reuben 0. and Alma J. (Everingham) Williamson in Ainsworth, NE. Wilda graduated from Ainsworth High School with the class of 1940. On June 8, 1940, Wilda married Milan L. Nelson in the parsonage of the Ainsworth United Methodist Church. Their first home was a 3-room house west of Ainsworth in an apple orchard. During the early years of their marriage they moved several times between Nebraska, Oregon and Idaho. Wilda was a proud homemaker and transformed every house into a comfortable and inviting home for her growing family. Their son Harlan “Roy” was born in Grants Pass, Oregon, on June 13, 1941. Another son, Lyle Victor was born on November 7, 1943, and passed away a month later. Milan entered the United States Navy in April of 1945. After his discharge in April of 1946 the couple returned to Ainsworth where their three daughters were born - Joyce K. on May 9, 1946, Norma L. on August 13, 1948, and Joanne E. on September 19, 1950. Wilda and Milan moved to Bassett in the fall of 1955, where they started a dairy farm and delivered milk to the homes and businesses of Bassett until the fall of 1958. Following this, they entered a ranching partnership with Robert Isham, and their son Roy and his wife Pat (Terry), raising yearling steers on land south of Bassett, and southwest of Newport until 1968. In 1969 Milan and Wilda bought a farm near Plainview, NE, operating a Grade A Dairy farm, and later buying another acreage north of Creighton, NE, to set up a sow/pig farming operation. In 1980 the couple retired to southern Missouri where they enjoyed several years of fishing and following the Southern Missouri State Lady Bears’ basketball team. They spent many weeks each year camping at Treasure Lake in Branson, MO and enjoying all the entertainment provided at Silver Dollar City. In 2003 Wilda and Milan again returned to their home state of Nebraska, moving first to Fullerton for 6 years, and making their final home in Neligh, NE in 2009. In June 2010, the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with many friends and family in attendance. Their 72 1/2 years of love, adventure, and fun came to an end December 12, 2012 when Milan passed away. They had begun each day with prayer and devotions; and Wilda was a faithful servant of the Lord to the end. Wilda was preceded in death by her husband Milan, their infant son Lyle, and granddaughter Terisa Nelson, her parents, her brother Ausby Williamson, sisters Dymple Hughes, and Lois Herring. She is survived by: son, Harlan “Roy” (Patty) Nelson of Ainsworth; daughters, Joyce Nelson (Ron McNally) of Phenix City, AL, Norma (Phil) Horner of Henderson, NV, and Joanne Haberlan of Lawrence, KS; 9 grandchildren, Rod Nelson, Nathan Nelson, Lanny Hart, Amy Sanger, Jared Sanger, Mandy Sanger, John McNally, Michele McNally, and Kelly McNally-Cook; 19 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson. Funeral services were held on October 25, 2014 at the United Methodist Church in Ainsworth, NE with Pastor Eldon Davis officiating over the service. Music was provided by Marilyn Williams and Marilyn Philben providing the selections of “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art”. A special music selection of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was provided by Michele McNally, Kelly McNally-Cook, Bailey Landholm, Lindsey Landholm, Eleyna Sanger, Jacey Jensen and Ethan Jensen. Pallbearers were Rodney Nelson, John McNally, Nathan Nelson, Jared Sanger, Gage McNally, and Rylan McNally. Honorary bearers were Phil Herring, Ron Nelson, Tom Nelson, and Rich Nelson. Burial was held in the Ainsworth Cemetery at Ainsworth, NE. Hoch Funeral Home of Ainsworth was in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorials were directed to the Antelope Memorial Hospital or to the Ainsworth United Methodist Church.

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