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Grace Donker

Grace Donker, 79, of Chadron, NE, died early Saturday morning, August 20, 2011, at Prairie Pines Lodge.

She was born December 28, 1931, at the home of her parents, Dick and Anna Luurs, outside Platte, SD. She was born the fifth of eight children.

Grace was raised on the South Dakota farm, attended school until she graduated from the eighth grade, and was very proud to go back to school to complete her GED in 1972. When she was eighteen, she took a job taking care of a couple in a small town not far from home.

While she was working for this elderly couple, she met Albert (Rusty) Donker on a blind date with his best friend, Arlin Plooster, and his sister, Noreen Donker-Plooster. Grace once said that she married Rusty because he was so much fun to be with. Rusty and Grace were married on January 29, 1953, and were married for almost 51 years before Rusty passed away. When they were first married, they lived and worked on the Mule Head Ranch outside Farifax, SD, right along the Missouri River. A few years later, they moved to Hot Springs, SD, where they bought a Mobil filling station, and a few years later they took over the operation on the Standard Oil Bulk Fuel Company. In 1968, they moved their family to Chadron, NE and bought the Culligan Soft Water Plant, where they worked together to make it successful. They retired in 1998, but continued to help with the business for another couple of years. To this union, there were four children born: Jerry (Red) Donker, David (Dutch) Donker, Steven Donker and Nancy Donker-Eitler.

She was a long time member of the First Congregational Church, where she served as an officer for many years for the Ladies Aid groups. She was also a member of the BPO Does for many years, and more recently was an active member of the Eastern Star.

Her family was the most important part of her life, and she enjoyed family gatherings and activities, including church activities- she loved to have her entire family attend church with her at the holidays. She also enjoyed family holiday meals.

Grace is survived by three of her four children, Nancy (Gary) Eitler, David (Karen) Donker and Steven (Dani) Donker, and daughter-in-law, Teala (Jerry) Donker. She is preceded in death by her eldest child, Jerry, and her husband, Rusty, who preceded her to her reward by seven years. She is also preceded in death by her parents, three sister and two brothers. She is survived by two brothers and numerous brothers and sisters-in law, eleven grandchildren, two step grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and two step great grandchildren.

Her funeral service will be held on Thursday, August 25, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. at the First Congregational Church in Chadron with Dr. Russ Seger officiating. There will be a viewing on Wednesday, August 24 at Chamberlain Chapel from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Burial will be at Greenwood Cemetery.

A memorial has been established. Donations may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.


Robert (Bob) Erwin Brown

Robert (Bob) Erwin Brown of Hay Springs, NE passed away August 2, 2011, at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Alliance, NE.

Bob was born June 27, 1928, in Valley, NE to Archie E. and Leta M. (McDuffee) Brown. At the age of four, his family moved to their homestead five miles south of Lingle, Wyoming. There, he and his big sister, Arlene, grew up and attended school in Lingle. Bob always chuckled when telling how the bus drivers built their own buses on a truck chassis and heated it with the exhaust pipe. It was here that Bob learn to farm and raise livestock, all the while keeping a sharp eye out for rattlers. They raised wheat and other small grains and had a small cattle herd. Fall brought the hunting season, and Bob hunted with his father, Archie, and brother-in-law, Joe Schneider, often in the Laramie Peak area. At age 18, Bob was stricken with polio and had to wear leg braces and use crutches from then on. They had a Case tractor outfitted with a drawbar step and hydraulics, which was a godsend for Bob. We kids all remember riding on the fender, keeping Bob company. It was here that we all developed our baseball arms as we carried a pocket full of rocks, and there were always plenty of jackrabbits. Grandpa Brown passed away in ’53, and Bob did all the farming from then on. In 1959, Grandma and Bob bought a dry land farm south of Hay Springs and moved there to be closer to us (Schneider’s). The homestead at Lingle was sold shortly thereafter. Lingle was never forgotten, though, as a Lingle newspaper always came in the mail. Bob continued to farm until the early 70’s, when he had had enough of the heat and dust and rented out the farm. Bob stayed on the farm until moving to Pioneer Manor in Hay Springs in 2000, and then on to Good Samaritan in Alliance in 2007.

Survivors include a niece, Launa Means of Scottsbluff; nephews, Joe Schneider Jr. of Minneapolis, Tom Schneider of Alliance, and Rick Schneider of Hay Springs; 14 great nieces/nephews; 21 great-great nieces/nephews; and 1 great-great-great nephew.

Preceding Bob in death were his parents, his sister, Loretta Arlene Schneider, and brother-in-law, Joe G Schneider.

Memorials may be made to the Hay Springs Vol. Fire Dept. Building Fund. Donations may be sent to Chamberlain Drabbels Mortuary, PO Box 443, Hay Springs, NE 69347.

Funeral services were held on Monday, August 8, 2011, at the United Methodist Church in Hay Springs with Pastor Rod Heilbrun officiating. Interment followed at the Hay Springs Cemetery.

Online condolences can be made to Chamberlain Drabbels Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.


Dale Eugene Piper

10.12.1929 - 07.27.2017

Dale Eugene Piper was born Oct. 12, 1929, in Gordon, Neb., to G.R “Sam” and Frances Piper.

Dale grew up in the sandhills with his three brothers: Glen, Wayne and Blaine, also known as Red and Whitie.  Just imagine having the sandhills of Nebraska as your backyard.  It has been told there were few “blowouts”, windmills, lakes or meadows that have not been explored by the “Piper boys.”

Trips to town were rare and money was scarce, so these four young boys learned to entertain themselves with what was available.  They were quite ingenious creating sling shots, swings, stick horses and other homemade toys and games.

A memorable Christmas morning found their stockings filled with BB guns.  Four boys plus four BB guns would lead to fun and dangerous times.  BB gun wars on foot and horses, not to mention, target practice with their mother’s chickens, resulted in the guns being put on the “shelf” only for viewing until a promise of better behavior was fulfilled.

As these young men grew up, they forged life-long friendships with their neighbors of the sandhills.  Card parties, barn dances and brandings were all anticipated social events for Dale.

In 1951 Dale joined the United States Navy during the Korean War.  During his world tour aboard the USS Colwell, he saw many ports.  He said it was quite the adventure; it was the best of times but also the loneliest of his life, being so far from family.  After four years of service, he came home to Nebraska with a strong appreciation of the life we are afforded living in the United States of America.  He often reminded his family, that in this country we really do not know poverty and should be very grateful for what we have.

In 1955, Dale returned to the sandhills and began ranching with his father. 

Also that year, at a Christmas dance in Merriman, Neb., he met his future wife, Geraldine “Jerri” Ann Ostrander.  This young, good-looking fella swept her off her feet with his charm and smooth “two-step”.  They were married May 28, 1956, in Scottsbluff, Neb.

Dale and Jerri celebrated 61 years of marriage in 2017, a true testimony of the commitment to their vows, “For better or for worse and also in sickness and in health.”

Two children joined their family, daughter Rhonda in 1957 and Michael in 1959.

Raising their children and trying to make a living always has its ups and downs.  To provide for extra income Dale would trap in the winter and contract hay in the summer.  For as long as any of us can remember he would contract to put up hay for the U-Cross Ranch, later known as the Fawn Lake Ranch.  Many present at today’s memorial probably have worked for or have memories of working in the hayfield under the watchful eye of Dale Piper.  The crews were worked hard, fed well and taught that a hard day’s work never hurt anyone.  Hay season ended with Dale’s straw hat being thrown in the last stack and a cold beer and steak supper awaited the crew. A job well done!

Dale and Jerri retired in 2000, after a life-long career of ranching.  They enjoyed some traveling, camping and fishing.  Many summer evenings found them at the ball fields enjoying a good game of baseball or softball that their grandchildren were playing in.

Dale “Liked” many things: a good horse, lot’s of grass, high cattle prices, a good hand of cards, a shot of “good” whiskey, and a good fishing day. But what he LOVED was his family.

Dale departed this earth, at his home, July 27, 2017, with a “worn out” body and a “sharp” wit.  He was surrounded by his adoring family: wife, Jerri Piper; daughter, Rhonda and son-in-law, Ted Baseggio; son, Michael and daughter-in-law, Tish Piper; grandchildren: Kaleb Nixon, Taryn (Clayton) Brown, Jordan Baseggio, Macy Piper, Sam Piper and Chaz Piper.  Great-grandchildren:  Kylee Nixon and Kinley Nixon.

Dale lived a simple life and will be remembered for his generosity, humility, hospitality and humor.

Memorial services were held Tuesday Aug. 1, 2017, at 10 a.m. at the Gordon American Legion. Inurnment with Miliary Honors was held in the Gordon Cemetery. The family suggest memorials to the Tri-State Cowboy Museum or the Gordon American Legion and donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366 Gordon, NE 69343.


LaVonne Esther Flueckinger

Funeral services for LaVonne Esther Flueckinger will be held at the United Methodist Church in Gordon, Neb., on Monday. Aug. 7, 2017, at 2 p.m. with burial at Fairview Cemetery in Rushville, Neb.

LaVonne Flueckinger passed away Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017, at Pioneer Manor in Hay Springs, Neb. LaVonne was born March 22, 1936, at Martin, S.D. She was the only child of Cecil and Flossie (Leeper) Burd. She grew up helping her folks with the ice plant and electric company in Martin, S.D. LaVonne would go with her dad in the airplane and would help him fly it under his supervision.

LaVonne graduated from high school at Bassett, Neb. While she was living in Bassett, she met Charlie Kelly and they were married in 1954 and to this union three children, Tony, Connie and Dale were born. Later LaVonne married Walter Flueckinger on Feb. 25, 1973, and their only child, Sonja was born.

LaVonne worked at various nursing homes caring for the residents and also bringing them into her home for family meals once a year. She enjoyed cooking for her family and baking for the holidays. LaVonne enjoyed her family reunions and traveling to other states to the reunions for both of her mom and dad sides of the family. She loved to play cards, especially solitaire and would often change the rules of the game in order to win. LaVonne belonged to Rebecka Lodge and the American Legion Auxiliary.

She moved to Pioneer Manor in Hay Springs where the care she received and love expressed by the staff and residents was beyond words. The family is grateful for the way they cared for their mom. She enjoyed life there and died peacefully in their care.

LaVonne is survived by her children Tony Kelly, Connie Nelson, Dale Kelly, Sonja (Kory) Hooper, 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. LaVonne was preceded in death by her parents, husband Walter and grandsons Ryan and Lane.

Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

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