The Superior Express -- Jewell County Record


Obituaries published April 20, 2017

The Superior Express and Jewell County Record

This week: Kenneth Hansen, Richard D. Wroughton, Jennifer Freel, Wilbur Gribble, Donnie Biltoft, Paul Lung, Charles Mertens, Don Davis, John Simpson, Laverna Brandt, Richard Diehl


Kenneth Hansen
Kenneth Gene Hansen, the son of Chris and Mabel (Sykes) Hansen, was born on Jan. 3, 1930, on a farm near Oak, Neb. He died on April 12, 2017, at Thayer County Health Services at Hebron, Neb., at the age of 87 years, three months and nine days.
Kenneth attended District 2 country school and Ruskin High School. He was a member of Bethany Lutheran Church in Ruskin. On May 24, 1953, Kenneth was united in marriage to Donna Boitnott at the Community Presbyterian Church in Ruskin, Neb.
He was employed at the Government Bin Site at Ruskin, Nelson and Mt. Claire, worked for farmers in the Ruskin area and the Nuckolls County Road Department for many years. Kenneth was a member of the Ruskin Volunteer Fire Department and the Ruskin Lions Club. He enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Douglas; one great-granddaughter, Neveah Hansen; and a brother, Donald Hansen.
Survivors include his wife, Donna, of Hebron, Neb.; son, Dennis Hansen and wife, Donna Rae, of Tipton, Iowa; one sister, Mary Ann Striggow and husband, Allen, of Lacey, Wash.; four grandchildren, Christian Hansen, Tonya Arellano, Jayme Wescoat and Corey Hansen; 11 great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends.
`Graveside services were held on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at 2 p.m., from the Spring Creek Cemetery at Ruskin, Neb., with Pastor Chris Hjelmstad officiating.
Honorary pallbearers were Dennis Hansen, Christian Hansen, Tonya Arellano, Jayme Wescoat, Corey Hansen and Kenneth's great-grandchildren.
Inurnment was in the Spring Creek Cemetery at Ruskin, Neb.
Memorials are suggested to go in care of the family.
Condolences may be sent to Megrue-Price Funeral Home, 750 N. Commercial, Superior, Neb., 68978 or
Megrue-Price Funeral Home of Superior, Neb., was in charge of the arrangements.

Richard D. Wroughton
Richard Dudley Wroughton, the son of Irvin and Florence (Thieman) Wroughton, was born on Feb. 10, 1935, in Nelson, Neb. He died on April 13, 2017, at the Good Samaritan Center at Superior, Neb., at the age of 82 years, two months and three days.
Richard attended Shiloh rural Country School and graduated from Nelson High School. He was baptized at the Presbyterian Church in Nelson and was a member of the Nelson Community United Church of Christ. He entered in the United States Navy (Seabees) on July 14, 1952, and was stationed in the Philippines and Saipan. He was united in marriage to Lorraine Kelley on Aug. 13, 1955, in Lincoln, Neb. Richard was honorably discharged from the Navy on Feb. 2, 1956. He was very proud of his military service. Richard and Lorraine made their home near Nelson, Neb., where they raised their three children. They later moved to Superior, Neb.
Richard was a Cub Scout leader, helped organize the Nelson golf course and was a Nelson city councilman. He enjoyed golfing, hunting, fishing, camping and time with his family. He was a member of the American Legion and a life member of the VFW, serving as post commander and district commander. He was a Masonic Lodge member for 50 years and served as master six times.
He was preceded in death by his parents; son, Steve Wroughton; daughter, Janet Rowland; and nephew, Scott Wroughton.
Survivors include his wife, Lorraine, and son, David, both of Superior, Neb.; daughter-in-law, Becky Wroughton, of Lincoln, Neb.; and son-in-law, Martin Rowland, and wife, Sandy, of Milford, Neb.; six grandchildren, Brandon, Katie, Sean, David, Austin and Trace; and four great-grandchildren, Owen, Quinn, Elijah and Nicholas; his brother, Donald Wroughton, and wife, Lois, of Nelson, Neb.; other relatives and a host of friends.
Memorial services were held on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at 11 a.m., from the Nelson Community United Church of Christ in Nelson, Neb., with Royce Schott officiating and full military rites following the services.
Music was "Old Rugged Cross" and "Amazing Grace," with Carlita Price as the organist and Tom Jensen as the soloist.
Book signing visitation was held on Monday from 4 to 8 p.m.
Honorary pallbearers were Richard's grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Private family inurnment at a later date will be in the Smith Cemetery at Nelson, Neb.
Memorials are suggested to go to Nelson Community United Church of Christ
Condolences may be sent to Klawitter-Price Funeral Home, 446 South Main St., Nelson, Neb., 68961, or
Klawitter-Price Funeral Home of Nelson, Neb., was in charge of the arrangements.

Jennifer Freel
Jennifer Garman Freel died Sunday in Raleigh, N.C.
Her funeral will be Monday at the Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh, N.C., with burial at Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh, N.C.

Wilbur Gribble
Wilbur L. Gribble, 86, Superior, died Sunday at the Superior Good Samaritan Center. The son of Willis Martin and Marguerite (Burrell) Gribble, he was born Jan. 3, 1931, in Onley Springs, Colo.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Iva Mae (Hurt) Gribble, on Nov. 13, 2000; brothers, Francis, James, George, Bill, Milton, Jay, David and George; and sisters, Clara Hren and Alma Marie Wiggins.
Survivors include his sister, Mrs. Lee Keller (Eva) La Junta, Colo.; brothers, Claude Gribble of Palisade, Colo., Cecil Gribble of Las Animas, Colo,. and Wesley Gribble of Rocky Ford, Colo.; and about 250 nieces, nephews and other relatives.
His funeral was held yesterday (Wednesday), 2 p.m., at the Red Cloud Cemetery, with Missy Wilt officiating. Williams Funeral Home of Superior was in charge of the arrangements.

Donnie Biltoft
Donnie Biltoft, 62, of San Antonio, Texas, formerly of Nelson, died last Monday in San Antonio.
His funeral is today (Thursday) at 10 a.m. at Megrue-Price Funeral Home in Superior. Burial with military honors will be in the Nelson Cemetery.

Paul Lung
Paul Allen Lung, 74, died April 1 in Belleville. He was born Jan. 18, 1943, to Percy Sr. and Carrie (Brenneman) Lung in Fairfield. He attended school in Minden and graduated from Superior High School in 1963. The family moved to Belleville in 1964.
Paul worked in construction and as a handyman. He was creative, thoughtful and enjoyed reading and life. He had a fun sense of humor and remained dedicated to his family and faith. He was one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Paul was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Charlotte Fox; and brothers, Percy Jr. and Harry. Survivors include his brother, James Lung, of Belleville; and sister, Mrs. Dan LeDroit (Gloria) of Elkhorn; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
His funeral will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Belleville, followed by a family and friends gathering in the basement of the Astra Bank in Belleville. Tibbetts-Fischer Funeral Home, Belleville, assisted the family with these arrangements.

Charles Mertens
Charles "Chuck" Mertens, 85, of Superior, died Friday in Superior. His funeral will be Tuesday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Superior, with the Rosary being recited before the funeral at 9:30 a.m. Burial with military honors will be in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Lawrence.
Friends may call or stop by on Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. with family present from 4 to 6 and on Monday from 4 to 8 at the Megrue-Price Funeral Home in Superior.

Don Davis
Donald Dean Davis arrived in rural Jewell County, Kan., during the big snow storm of March 15, 1924. He had a child's eye view of the great depression from the home of his parents (Newell F. Davis and Ruby M. Fogo) in Mankato, Kan., and the farmstead of his maternal grandparents north of Burr Oak, Kan.
World War II crashed into the lives of everyone in his generation. The U.S. military decided he could best serve his country in the Coast Guard, first as a mounted patrol on the Georgia coast and then as a member of the crew on a landing craft in the Pacific. After the war, Don and his new bride (Jean Claire Bothwell) moved to Hays, Kan., as he, like millions of his fellow veterans, used the G.I. Bill to make their lives better. Don enrolled at Fort Hays State College to attain his teaching certification while also playing as a scrappy 150 pound center for Tiger football team. He was elected president of the letterman club during his senior year.
Graduation brought Don (Gabby) an offer of a teaching and coaching position in Smith Center, Kan. His family, which now included a son, Daniel James, and a daughter, Donna Jeanne, moved to the central Kansas county seat and spent the 1950s living their version of the American dream. Don's passion for sports had him playing town team baseball across western Kansas during this time. One of his proudest honors was being selected for the individual sportsmanship trophy at the NBC national tournament in 1951.
When the Smith Center school board decided that they "wanted to go in a different direction" for a football coach, Don was forced to find a new way to support his family. His personality was well exemplified as he told the many fans who offered to battle for his reinstatement that "if you get down in the gutter to fight, you're just in the gutter."
Don then enrolled at the University of Nebraska and rode the Rock Island Rocket to Lincoln every week to earn certification in the newly created education role of guidance counselor. He completed his master's degree at Ft. Hays and was hired as the first guidance counselor at Beloit High School. His counseling career only lasted two years at Beloit, largely due to conflicts defining this new position. Don felt that the counselor's office should be a place where conversations with students were considered private rather than a source of information for the school administration. He accepted a position with the Kansas Department of Education and spent the next few years driving from Beloit to Topeka to work so that his children would not have their high school years interrupted by a major relocation.
During this time Don was noticed by a group of educators who were establishing what became the American College Testing Program. They asked Don to work with the colleges and universities in Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas utilizing individual ACT test scores to help students find majors that were personally fulfilling. His work as regional director for ACT spanned the 60s, 70s and 80s and included several years living in Salado, Texas, as the growing company expanded and consolidated. At each community in their lives, Don and Jean found warm folks with similar world views who became part of their lifelong friendship circle. They chose to make Manhattan their retirement home and purchased a house on what came to be called Democrat Ridge amid neighbors who were some of the finest of Manhattan's caring citizens.
Inevitably, life challenged Don as he aged into his 90s and his life partner, Jean, was felled by Alzheimers. His strength and determination were a source of inspiration and frustration for the many folks who helped him in his last years. He was fiercely determined to be in control of his life even as his sight and reason failed. His struggle ceased late in the night of April 13-14 while he was surrounded by his exhausted family members who were laughing and crying while reassuring him of their love and gratitude.
Don is survived by his children, Dan (Nancy Patnode) and Donna (Shawn Nouri), and his grandchildren, Kane, Booker and Oakley (Dustin Shawn) Davis and Ada Davis-Nouri.
His wishes were for cremation.

John Simpson
John Simpson, 62, Lebanon, Kan., died peacefully on April 14, 2017.
John was born to Beverly (Post) Simpson and the late Richard Simpson in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Feb. 13, 1955. He grew up in Topeka, Kan., where he graduated from Topeka West High School. He attended Kansas State University and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He later entered the plumbing trade and worked on construction projects across Kansas for many years.
John was an avid sports fan. His favorite teams were the KSU Wildcats, K.C. Chiefs and the K.C. Royals, that he supported through good times and bad. He also enjoyed hunting and fishing in the Lebanon area with his family, friends and dogs. His home was a popular venue for guests during hunting season. John had a number of dogs through the years and they were always by his side whether at home or riding with him in his truck. His brittany, Jenny, was a favorite of his.
John's interest in genealogy research allowed him to trace ancestors back to the Revolutionary War and the Mayflower. He created a large family tree that prompted people from all over the country to contact him seeking information about his research in Smith and surrounding counties.
John treasured his friendships with friends from Topeka and Lebanon. John hosted many a BBQ at his home. His family and friends will always remember and love John for his sincere care of others. He was always available to help others out. John had a big heart but, unfortunately, not a strong heart.
John was preceded in death by his father, Richard Simpson. He is survived by his parents, Gary and Bev Bothwell; brothers, Bob Simpson (Sandy) and Greg Bothwell (Karen); sister, Tammy Dishman (Jeff); nephews, Gray Bothwell (Kristin), Caleb Dishman (Linda); great-nephew, Liam Bothwell; as well as aunts, cousins and many friends.
Honoring John's wishes, cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at a later date for John along with his aunt and uncle at Oak Creek. Family and friends will be notified of details in the near future.
John's final resting place will be North Oak Creek Cemetery in Smith County, Kan.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to North Oak Creek Cemetery, sent in care of Kevin Brennan Family Funeral Home, 2801 SW Urish Road, Topeka, Kan., 66614.
Condolences may be sent online to

Laverna Brandt
Laverna Brandt, 97, of York, Neb., died Friday, April 14, 2017, at York. She was born Jan. 19, 1920, at Woodruff, Kan., to Arley Edgar  Hageman and Florence (Bradley) Hageman. She was a bookkeeper for Montgomery Wards in McCook, Neb., and Denver, Colo.  Her enjoyment came with genealogy, bird watching, the coffee club in Superior, Neb. She played on a girl's baseball team; she loved to dance, especially ballroom, played piano and was a member of a small local band with her sisters. On Jan. 31, 1942, she was married to John B. Brandt at Oberlin, Kan.
She is survived by son John W. (Kami) Brandt of Ogallala, Neb., and his children, Suzie (Aaron) Dexter of Thornton, Colo., Logan and Jacob Dexter. Jodi Deaver of Denver, Colo., and her children, Arianna, Elliana, Alliyah, Chelsea and Regie. Jonathan (Mimi) Brandt of Kearney, Neb., their children Jonas Burton Brandt, August Emerson Brandt, and a great-granddaughter to be born in May. Daughter Joyce (David) Samson of York, Neb., and her children, Jay Nelson of Bradshaw, Neb., and his friend, Deb Bray. Jill (Randy) Shaw of Crete, Neb. Their children, Tyler (Katy) Shaw  and their baby daughter, Collins Rosella Shaw, of Pleasant Dale, Neb., Tristan Shaw and Taryn Shaw both of Crete. Jackie (Clay) Bittinger of Henderson, Neb., and their children, Tori Bittinger and fiance, Kendall Gierhan of Utica, Neb., and Jordan and Ashley Bittinger of Lincoln, Neb. Laverna was blessed to hold and enjoy her great-great-granddaughter, the fifth generation. Son, Jim (Faith) Brandt of Colorado Springs, Colo.
She is also survived by her brothers, Glenn (Jeanne) Hageman of Denver, Colo., and Wayne (Lois) Hageman of Torrington, Wyo., and a sister, Marylou Hartzog of Ogallala. Many nieces, nephews and their families, along with their Texas and Nebraska friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; one brother, Raymond Bradley Hageman;brother-in-law, Ron Hartzog; one sister, Bernice (Jim) Turner. Sister-in-law and brothers, Morris (Virginia) Brant, Ruth (Don) Bridgmon and Marge (Curtis) Ely. Nephews, Bradley Wayne Hartzog, James Clayton "Butch" Brandt and Gary Hageman. Her parents-in-law, J. Arthur and Anna Brant. 
Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 22, 2017, at the Metz Chapel in York with the Reverend Art Phillips officiating. Burial will be in York's Greenwood Cemetery.  Visitation will be held from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. Family will greet friends one hour prior to services Saturday. Memorials may be sent to the family for later designation.
Online condolences may be directed to the family at Metz Mortuary in York is handling arrangements.

Richard Diehl
Richard L. Diehl, 73, a resident of Scurry, Texas, died April 7 at the Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital Emergency Room, Kaufman, Texas.
The son of William and Luella Diehl, he was born in Omaha. Richard served with the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserves for 12 years during which he received several honors. He went on to have a 22-year career with the Bureau of Federal Prisons, Department of Justice.
Survivors include his three daughters, Kristina Diehl of Scurry, Texas, Mrs. Rob Thompson (Nicole) of Oklahoma City, Mrs. Dan Shinedling (Tami) of Flower Mound, Texas; one son, Tony Hollis, of Yukon, Okla., eight grandchildren, Brandon Bailey, Kahli and Logan Gardner, Sara Spera, Rubie and Tatum Shinedling, and Brendon and Addison Hollis; four bothers, Herald Diehl, Dennis Diehl, Stephen Diehl and Gerald Diehl; and one sister, Bonnie Crosby.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Gail Haynes; a daughter, Michelle Jeter; a brother, Donald Diehl; and his parents, Bill and Luella Diehl.
Interment with Naval honors was April 13 in the DFW National Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.

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