Adah Cecila (Riggs) Dukat, age 100, passed away November 20, 2011 at her home in Rushville, NE. Adah was born March 25, 1911, to Bennett and Bessie (Murray ) Riggs in a log cabin on their ranch southeast of Rushville. Born into a family with a history of public service, Adah was predestined to aid those around her. Her grandfather, Johnny Riggs, served as the first sheriff of Sheridan County and her father was remembered by all who knew him for his concern for the bereaved and ill. Therefore, it was no accident that by the age of five, Adah dreamed of becoming a nurse.
As the eldest child at the age of seven, Adah was sent to live with her grandmother, Amma (Irwin) Riggs in the town of Rushville because her grandfather, Johnny Riggs passed away from pneumonia. While with her grandmother, she attended all twelve years of primary and secondary school at Saint Mary’s Academy. In 1930 at nineteen, Adah graduated from high school. While she greatly desired a career in nursing, it was the beginning of the Great Depression and financial worries were high. In addition, Adah’s mother prevented her from pursuing a nursing degree until she reached the age of twenty-one. Because she was a high achieving junior and senior at St. Mary’s Academy, Adah was given the opportunity to attend Nebraska State Normal at Chadron (known later as Chadron State College) to receive normal training for teaching the summer following high school.
For the next seven years Adah taught at various country schools within Sheridan County. During that time, she took several college courses in science and saved money to eventually pursue nursing. In 1937 at the end of her contract with the Strasburger School, Adah followed through with her life-long dream of becoming a nurse. While many other women her age were getting married and beginning families, Adah bought a one-way ticket to Boston, Massachusetts using a great amount of determination and money she received from a car accident settlement. In Boston she stayed with a relative, Paula Kearns, and obtained training in nursing and psychology at Cambridge City Hospital. After fours years of persistence, Adah received an RN (registered nurse) license for the states of Massachusetts, Nebraska and California as they were the only three states in the union that recognized her dual training in both nursing and psychology.
When she saved enough money, Adah returned to Sheridan County for a brief time and served as the head nurse for the Rushville Hospital. At the time, Joe Dukat, the youngest son of a family of Czech homesteaders, advertised in the newspaper that he was going to California to find work and wanted to share expenses. Although Adah did not know Joe, she rode with him to Los Angeles, California to assist her sister Eva (Riggs) Clarke with her first pregnancy. Soon thereafter, at the age of thirty-two, Adah married Joe on March 9, 1943. It was war time, and Adah worked as a surgical nurse for both a Methodist hospital and the Douglas Elsegundo Airplane Plant. During her time of employment, at both locations, Adah served in many capacities as a nurse including driving the ambulance through Los Angeles.
With the arrival of two children, Don in 1944 and Maureen in 1945, Adah worked at her profession on a part time basis. There were few luxuries and rationing of bedding, milk, meat, and stamps for gas to run the car was in full swing in Los Angeles. Upon request of Joe’s parents, Nicholas and Barbara Dukat, the couple returned to Sheridan County and took over the Westover place that Nicholas had bought in 1919 for $10 an acre. In August of 1947, Adah gave birth to Leon Michael. Although Adah briefly practiced nursing upon returning home, she quickly realized her family’s need for her and laid aside her hard-earned career to assist on the ranch and raise her family. She continued to serve those within the ranching community by generously giving her time and talents. She took care of the ill, provided medical attention and shots to injured neighbors and welcomed all to her home. In order to send her children to private school, Adah returned to the teaching profession in their local country school. After her husband Joe passed away on June 13, 1998, Adah remained on the ranch for several years until she moved to Rushville where she resided until her death.
In the last 100 years Adah experienced first hand women getting the right to vote in 1920, the Great Depression, the inception of antibiotics in the 1940’s , World War II, 18 presidents, and the age of technology. Her wise experiential advice was....”Pray; be kind, loyal, and true; do your best always but enjoy as you go.”
In many ways Adah’s ambition designates her as a pioneer for women in education and the workforce. She has been quoted saying, “If you want it, just do it,” long before Nike started using the phase. She was most celebrated, however, because of her generous heart, her outgoing and fun loving nature, and her positive influence in getting others through hard times. To the Catholic and Christian community she was regarded by her peers and neighbors as an individual who is kind to all people and a best friend to all. To her family, Adah’s devotion was unwavering; she loved fiercely and unconditionally. She set an example for sharing what you have; for when you give you receive much more through the richness of others.
It was once written that Adah’s father was on of the most unforgettable persons you would know in a lifetime. That legacy lived also through his daughter Adah Dukat.
Adah is survived by her son, Donald Dukat of Rushville, NE, daughter Maureen Shannon of Montrose, Colorado, son Leon Dukat of Palmer, NE, two sisters, Amma Fisher of Rushville and Eva Clarke of Fullerton, California, twelve grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren.
A rosary service was held Friday, November 25, 2011, 7:00PM at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Rushville, Nebraska and a Mass of Christian Burial was held Saturday November 26, 2011, 10:00 AM. Burial was held in the Fairview Cemetery, Rushville, NE.
The family suggests memorial donations to the Rushville Ambulance Squad, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church or the Pleasant Point Church. Donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366 Gordon, NE 69343.