Vanessa C. Oleske McConaughey, 97, of Denver, Colo., formerly of Merriman, Neb., passed away Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Denver.
A Rosary Service will be held at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in Martin, S.D., at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Funeral services will be held at the Church on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 10:00 a.m., with Fr. Tyler Dennis officiating. Honor guard will be the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nenzel. Inurnment will follow at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Cemetery in Merriman.
Vanessa was born March 10, 1918 to Chris and Vennessa Brown Christensen. Her mother died within a few days of Vanessa’s birth. She was placed in the loving care of their farm neighbors, the Heinz family, until Chris married Mary Grewe Christensen. The little family made their home at the farm where brother John and sister Margaret were born. The young family moved to the Merriman area in the early 1930’s.
The Christensen family moved to the Merriman area soon after Vanessa’s birth. She attended school in Merriman, at Immaculate Conception Parochial School in Rushville, Neb., and Assumption Academy in Chadron, Neb., where she graduated from high school. She attended Chadron State College.
Following enrollment at Chadron State College she travelled to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a Civil Servant in the Commerce Department. It was during this time that she met her husband, Andrew John Oleske, of North Bergen, New Jersey. The couple was married on Oct. 25, 1941, at the Church of St. Paul, in Washington, D.C.
Andrew joined the Army Air Force, and Vanessa spent the early years of their marriage living in the New York City area, where their first two children were born. With Andrew’s discharge from the United States Army Air Force, the family moved to Merriman where four more children were born. Andrew passed away in 1967.
Vanessa married Joe McConaughey in 1976. Vanessa continued to live in Merriman when Joe passed away in 1990. Vanessa moved to Denver, in 1997, living in the Mullen Home, operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, until her death.
Vanessa was a member of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Merriman, and a member of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Martin. She served as church accompanist and played the piano throughout her life. She taught piano lessons and played for numerous school programs, bringing a love of music to all who met her.
Vanessa was preceded in death by her parents; husbands, Andrew Oleske and Joe McConaughey; brother, John Christensen; sister and brother-in-law, Margaret and Gordon Brooks; niece, Janet Christensen; and granddaughter, Jennifer Skinner Fancher.
She is survived by her children, Christina Oleske, Denver, Andrew Oleske, Liberal, Mo., Mary Oleske, Wayne, Neb., Frances (John) Nelson, Umatilla, Ore., Matthew (Cheri) Oleske, Worthington, Minn., and Margaret (Jerry Frew) Oleske, Martin; sister-in-law, Annabel Christensen, Martin; step-children, Jim McConaughey and Lois (Don) Wiley, both of Merriman; 19 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and her beautiful collection of friends who she treasured.
Sandoz Chapel of the Pines, of Valentine, Neb., is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be made to the Little Sisters of the Poor, Mullen Home for the Aged, 3629 W. 29th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211.