Betty Bredemeyer often told younger church members that she used to run Christ United Methodist Church.
While raising her sons in the '50s and '60s, she taught Sunday school and was “probably on about every committee they had,” according to her son, 68-year-old Dennis Weaver, who remembers growing up and spending Sundays at church.
She moved to Omaha to live with her second husband in 1986, but she still got to know the new, younger church members. Long-timers still tell Dennis that his mother was the nicest lady.
She was giving, Dennis said through his tears. “Always willing to help out.”
Betty grew up in Florida and moved to Nebraska in 1948. She married her first husband, Clarence Weaver, in 1949. They had three sons: Alan, Dennis and Roger. Clarence Weaver died in 1976, and she married Dewey Bredemeyer a decade later.
They moved between Omaha and a home in South Padre Island, Texas. He was a devout Catholic, but they found a way to practice their different faiths until he died in 2005.
The death was a woman in her 70s who had been hospitalized.
While he was in school, Dennis said his mother worked in customer service at what is now U.S. Bank. His dad used to joke about how she helped other people balance their checkbooks, but she struggled to balance her own.
Betty didn’t receive her driver’s license until Dennis turned 16. She was short, and he suspected her small stature made her dislike driving. She was mostly able to get around by riding the bus or catching rides with friends or family.
But Dennis still remembers the day his brother broke his leg when the boys were wrestling at home.
Burt Smith sat down and wrote his list and he and his brother composed a life story in chapters. Birth. Pre-Teen Years. Marriage and War Years. The Farmer’s Wife. Move to Town. Retirement Years.
“She picks him up and runs around the neighborhood, trying to find somebody to take her to the hospital with my little brother.”
Dennis said his mother was doing well in the memory care unit until she contracted the virus. She had dementia, but she could still remember the family, though she would occasionally forget names. She could not hear very well, which made phone calls difficult.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Dennis couldn’t be with his mother when she died Nov. 23 at age 94, three days before Thanksgiving and two days before his aunt died, also from COVID-19. He hadn't seen his mother in a year.
“It was a rough Thanksgiving,” he said.
— Libby Seline
CVS and Hy-Vee both say shots will be available to that age group starting Thursday, and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department will offer them at clinics starting on Friday.
The cost of COVID: Remembering lives lost in Southeast Nebraska
They were teachers and farmers and factory workers and homemakers. They played the piano, fixed old cars, danced to the Beach Boys, cuddled their grandchildren.
They loved to ice fish, gab with friends, read, run marathons, bowl, wander antique stores.
They were our co-workers and neighbors and friends. Our parents. Our spouses.
They all have one thing in common. They died from COVID-19, a virus that arrived in Nebraska in March 2020, claiming its first life in Lancaster County a month later.
These stories represent a fraction of the lives lost in Southeast Nebraska, but they are our way of paying respect to each and every one.
We'd like to share the stories of others from Southeast Nebraska who have lost their lives to COVID-19. If you would like to have your loved one added to our online tribute, please email your contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This spring, the Journal Star set out to honor the lives of those lost to COVID-19. The families were eager to share the stories of those they loved.
Lillian "Lil" Gibson, 61, died of COVID-19 on Nov. 2. The dialysis nurse and marathon runner was small but mighty with a big smile and warm personality.
Phyllis "Phyl" Maly, 87, died of COVID-19 on Jan. 14. She was an artist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a woman at home in her own skin.
Beth Smith, 64, died of complications of COVID-19 on Jan. 20. The red-headed woman loved music and parties and adventure, a loyal friend, sister, aunt and partner.
Roger A. Ryman, 70, died Oct. 20 from COVID-19. He was a cowboy in his younger years, but became a grandfather devoted to his Magnificent 7.
Gloria Pospisil, 80, died of COVID-19 on Feb. 11. The long-time piano teacher and church organist was a farm girl at heart who kept a busy social calendar.
Wanda Darlene Hedges was a strong woman who raised her family on a farm near Bennet. Sometimes she worked at a nearby grocery store, but she was mostly a full-time mother.
Anna Sales, 69, died of COVID-19 on Nov. 6; four days later her husband Chuck Sales, 88, also died of the virus. The couple loved to bowl, travel, serve their church and listen to Elvis music.
Randy Brinkman of Lincoln died of COVID-19 on Nov. 30. He loved his family, old cars, working hard and writing love poems to his wife.
Alan Burr, 73, of Humboldt died on Jan. 13 of complications from COVID-19. Teacher, artist, beloved brother, favorite uncle. “He did what he wanted, when he wanted to.”
Raymond Irvin 'Irv' Cidlik, 78, died Oct. 23 from COVID-19. He was a veteran, farmer, father and grandfather who loved making people laugh.
Employees lined the hallway in early December, clapping and cheering as my 94-year-old mother, Jane Koch, returned to her room in the long-term care facility where she lived.
Bryan Wintz, 46, died of COVID-19 on Oct. 4. The longtime LES worker loved to tease his only daughter, go ice fishing and work on projects around the house he built with his high school sweetheart, Jill.
Orva Samuelson, 95, died of COVID-19 on May 22. She and her late husband loved to dance and play cards and after she raised her daughter she became an Avon lady and turned customers into friends.
Tam Mai, 80, died of COVID-19 on May 4. The man from Vietnam was a protective big brother and a devoted son and grandfather who taught his grandchildren to study hard and be respectful.
Janet Ann Jodais, a caring mother known for her love of reading, crafting and church life, died Oct. 8 of COVID-19 in Lincoln at age 83.
Jack Fields, 87, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 8. He spent his career fixing copy machines and making friends and creating memories for his children and grandchildren.
Nadene Stull, 94, died Dec. 12 from complications of COVID-19. She lived a full life as a bookkeeper and mother of three sons who later went on to become a lay minister in the Methodist church.
Betty Srb, a longtime nurse known for her caring and loving personality, died of COVID-19 at a Lincoln nursing home last November at age 95.
Albert "Butch" Butts, 79, died on Feb. 14 of complications of COVID-19. He was a hard worker and a kind and generous man who left behind a big family to mourn his passing.
Kevin Hopper, 60, died of COVID-19 on Aug. 19. The easygoing Lincoln native and computer expert loved Star Trek and Star Wars and all things sci-fi and, most of all, his family.
Hope McGraw, a 22-year-old crew leader at a York restaurant, died of COVID-19 in January. A fundraiser over a week later raised nearly $1,200 to help her family cover bills.