Lola May (Key) Speirs, 87, of 96 Speirs Road in rural Hay Springs died Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, at Crest View Care Center in Chadron. She was surrounded by her loving family.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron. Visitation will be from 5- 7 p.m. Monday at the funeral home. Burial will be at Chadron Cemetery.
She was born Dec. 30, 1931, in Winner, S.D., to Faran “Bud” Key and Neva (Hayworth) Key. Her mother died in 1945. The family then moved to Chadron.
As a child, she loved visits to and spending summers at her grandmother’s and uncles’ ranches near the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Those visits and the trips there as an adult with her children were special memories.
She graduated from Chadron High School in 1949. She completed what was then called normal training at Chadron State Teacher’s College and began teaching in rural schools in Box Butte and Dawes Counties.
On Sept. 15, 1951, she and Walter Speirs were married after they eloped to Rapid City, S.D. He was the pilot who kept buzzing her schoolhouse to get a glimpse of the cute school teacher. She continued to teach until 1953 when they began their family. They had five children – Daniel, Valerie, Timothy, Michael and Patrick, and because he was so close to the age of her children, she considered her grandson Christopher to be like a son.
In 1957, they moved to Renton, Wash., where Walt worked for Boeing. In 1960, they returned to the Speirs family farm in the Antelope Valley south of Chadron and lived there for more than 50 years.
In 1972, she returned to teaching with Head Start in Rushville. She became Head Start director for Northwest Nebraska Community Action, was with that program for 32 years and retired in 2004. She also enjoyed traveling nationwide to review Head Start programs. She served on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Community Action Partnership until recently.
She believed in education, so in 1990, after a gap of 41 years, she earned a degree in early childhood development from Chadron State College.
She loved children and loved being a teacher. Through teaching in her schools, her work with Head Start and being a parent and grandparent, she gave hundreds of children a chance at better lives. She was a 4-H leader for her children’s clubs, supported and encouraged them in their activities, and enjoyed the Dawes County Fair.
In retirement, Lola and Walter enjoyed traveling and camping in their fifth-wheel camper. After years of following her children’s sporting events, she became a huge football fan. Her favorite team was Howells-Dodge High School, where Mike is the coach.
Lola was a loving and loved mother and grandmother. She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Walter of Chadron; children, Dan and his wife, Julie, of Kearney, Valerie Worth and her husband, Doug, of Parker, Colo., Tim and his wife, Deann, of Chappell, Mike and Candy Recker of Howells and Pat of Hay Springs and Robin Johannssen; grandchildren, Chris of Hay Springs, Emily Tienken of Berkeley, Calif., Savannah Worth, of San Francisco, Trevor Worth of Lone Tree, Colo., Chance Speirs of Chappell and Anna Speirs of Chappell; and cousin and “big sister” Marge Schumacher of Chadron.
She was preceded in death by her parents; brother Faran Melvin in infancy; and sisters Dorothy Staniszewski and Eileen Brenneman.
Her family appreciates the excellent, compassionate care she received at Crest View.
Memorials are suggested to Northwest Community Action Partnership Head Start to be used for educational materials for children.