Anna LaVerne Kellison, 97, Osage City: June 30, 1923 – Oct. 21, 2020

OSAGE CITY, Kan. – Anna LaVerne Kellison, 97, Osage City, passed away Oct. 21, 2020. Mom was born June 30, 1923, in the downstairs bedroom in the family home on Ellinwood Street, in Osage City, Kan. Her parents were George and Leah Regenold.

She had two siblings, Louis (Uncle Buzz) and a sister Louellen (“Auntie”), who were wonderful aunt and uncle to all of us. Mom was the last child in the family and years younger than her siblings. Many times she served as a chaperone for her sister.

Mom was active in school, played flute in the high school band. She graduated from Osage City High School and attended business school in Topeka. She lived with her cousins, Margaret and Loretta, in a house on Monroe Street close to downtown. After graduating from business school, she went to work for a plumbing firm, Shinn and Degan, in Topeka, that was located on Kansas Avenue. This was the building that was shown after the 1966 tornado that said something like, “a refuge during the storm.”

Mom met her future husband when she was at home in the house on Ellinwood. Dad lived in the Presbyterian Manse (pastor of the Presbyterian Church, in Osage City) next door to Mom’s family home. The story we heard was that Mom would lure Dad’s dog over to her house and then return the dog, hence getting to talk with Dad. Mom and Dad dated up to the time that Dad went to active duty during WW2. After Dad was separated from the service, Mom and Dad married in the living room of her parent’s home, Dad in his naval uniform and Mom is her beige suit.

They left on their honeymoon to Pennsylvania and Niagara Falls, which lasted about a month. Dad was from Pennsylvania, so Mom got to meet all of the relatives on Dad’s side. That would have been a long driving trip in those days. When returning home, Dad and Mom accepted a call to the Caldwell Presbyterian Church, in western Kansas. Dad said at this time that Mom hardly knew how to boil water. Caldwell is where my brother, Steve, was born and they learned all about taking care of baby. Lots of help was received by Mom’s mother, Leah, and her sister, Louellen. Mom used to say Louellen (Auntie) thought she knew everything about babies there was to know, but when Steve would cry, they would all cry with him.

The next church that Mom and Dad were called to was the Presbyterian Church, in WaKeeney, Kan. This is where Janis, Greg and Mark were born. As parents to four young children they were a busy family.

Mom reminded Dad often of the time he went to the grocery store with one of the boys and when he checked out, Dad took the groceries and left the baby in the cart. Mom had to send him right back to the store.

I remember when we were very young going to the drive-in-movie. Mom would get us in our PJ’s and we would be asleep before the end of the movie. Dad would have to carry us all upstairs.

Mom and Dad next moved the family to Abilene, Kansas to serve the Presbyterian church. We lived in a great old two-story house that was just our size. We had a few “could you marry us weddings” in our house and many church parties that Mom and Dad hosted. We were used to the routine when someone would call and say they were coming over, Mom would say, “Everyone pick something up.” We would then proceed to “pick something up” and throw it over the banister upstairs to be cleaned up later. All of us loved that old house and we count it as the place we all grew up. Mark recalls having Sunday afternoon ping pong matches with Mom and Dad against the kids. When we got our first dog, it was a sad day for Mom. Dad had always wanted a dog but Mom knew she would have to take care of it. Dad took several of us to adopt Heidi, a little Chihuahua. Mom cried for two days until Heidi won her over. After that we usually had a cat and a dog in the family. We were so lucky to have my Mom’s mom (Grandmother Regenold) that stayed with us many winter seasons while we lived in Abilene.

Wichita, Kan., would be the last church that Mom and Dad served full time; they moved there in 1968. Steve, Janis and Greg were in college or very close. Mark was in sixth grade. The manse in Wichita was small and we barely fit. One day Mark and I found the cat (Mark said it was Amos) in the garage very sick. Mom told us go take the cat to the vet but told us the bill had to stop at $20. Vets were negotiable in those days.

Mom and Dad retired from the ministry in 1981 and moved to a small neighborhood in Wichita. They lived just two doors down from Steve, so were in good hands. Mom would give Dad a list to go to Sam’s to buy groceries and he would always come home with the list and including the kitchen sink. Mom was a good cook by this time, but she had Mark for lunch one day and fixed tuna casserole. When they had finished, Mark looked over to see the tuna sitting on the counter.

Mom volunteered at Wesley Medical Center in the chaplain’s office, and again was a great pastor’s wife. Dad and Mom had acquired five grandchildren by then, Dawna, Kelsey, Adam, Ben, and just few weeks before Dad passed away, Laura. Dad passed away in 1989 (31 years ago). The next year Mom moved to Osage City to be close to her brother and sister and Janis, who lived in Topeka. Steve later moved back to Osage City.

She enjoyed having company and visiting with friends and loved her little house on Third and Holliday, in Osage City. She had three cousins her age living there and her sister and brother. There were never enough reasons to have “a coffee” and invite people over. She was able to spend time with her sister and brother and be with them when they passed away. She was active in the Osage City Presbyterian Church and helped with the Christmas sweet sale, making her peanut brittle. She volunteered at ECAT and was in charge of Thanksgiving baskets. She volunteered with her friend at the VA. When she voluntarily stopped driving, she continued to take care of her business. I was astounded one day when she told me that she called the bank because she needed some money and the bank brought money to her house (only in a small town) and that the mail lady brought her bananas when she needed them – thanks, Ruthie! Her real passion was playing Scrabble. When she heard there was a new neighbor moving in right across the street from her who played Scrabble, she was thrilled. This started the many years of friendship with Winnie. They played Scrabble many afternoons and there was the Tuesday afternoon Scrabble group (Mom, Winnie, Sherry and Mom’s cousin, Margaret) that started at about 1:30 p.m. and many times lasted until 7 p.m. I would hear from Mom, “Well, Winnie won all the games today, I will probably not ever win a game again, she is too good.” The next week she would say, “Ha, I won two games today and Winnie only won one game.”

Mom loved to watch tennis and had a specific opinion about all the players. Joyce (friend of Janis) would come once or twice a year to watch tennis tournaments with her. They might get up at 5 a.m. to catch a match. Mom also liked KU sports. Clyde, Janis, Mom and Steve would go to the football games. We would sit up on “The Hill” and tailgate then attend the game. She once attended a KU basketball game. When KU lost to Iowa State, Mom claimed forever that she caused the loss. One year Mom went to the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City with Clyde and I. Clyde and I stopped in Osage City and picked up Mom and then stopped in Wichita and picked up her granddaughter Laura. We had no tickets, but we bought them on the street and had a great time. Mom would try to stay up and watch the KU basketball games in her later years and always expected a call from Clyde and I as we left Allen Field House.

Mom had some wonderful caregivers who helped her stay in her house for a while longer. When she had fallen one too many times, Sharon Larson started helping her with bathing and dressing. When she needed someone to stay at night, Joyce Harold stayed with her almost a year. She did not want to leave her home, but there were just no safe options left. I just wanted her to go to sleep and not wake up in the morning.

The Lord did not have the same plan in mind, darn. Mom was angry about having to go to Peterson’s Assisted Living and I was crying. I can’t say Mom accepted the move gracefully and happily but it made me feel like she was safe and sound. Her 100-year-old neighbor Winnie (Scrabble partner) moved right next to her. Winnie told me once that she was so sorry that Mom was having problems, because she said their plan was to grow old together. At that time, Winnie was 101 and Mom was 96. Mom fell in June 2019, just before her 96th birthday, breaking her hip. She had a difficult recovery but she was at the best place to be cared for, Peterson’s. Again I want to mention the wonderful caregivers that sat with her when she was restless – Gloria Mathy, Nicie Wasinger and Alli Moore. When Mom needed someone with her and I was in the middle of who knows what, the ladies managed to drop what they were doing and spent time with her. She lived two years at Peterson’s Assisted Living. If she had to be somewhere, this was the place to be. She had a second family there that took such good care of her. Her face would light up when Tammy came in the room saying, “Look what I have, red licorice”. She knew Trish was the boss but always had a hug and kiss for her. She would tell me that one or the other girls were “her favorite” and it usually changed to who was there for the day. Callie, the cat, also delighted Mom, and Callie would just come in and jump in her chair or on the bed. PETERSON’S Assisted Living is the best! Mom’s communication skills (talking) declined in the last months. Some days it was good, and some days we couldn’t understand what she was saying. I believe during that time she was not confused, she understood what she was trying to tell us. I would come to visit and we would talk about when we were young kids and about old friends and she would shake her head yes or no. The day before she died she looked at me and said, “Are you sick.” That’s my Mama!

The family would like to thank the Presbyterian church family for care they have given Mom over the years she lived in Osage City. Also her many friends, too many to mention, that have played Scrabble, had coffee, ran errands, took her to the beauty shop, got groceries and been an ear. She loved you all!

My Mom was a special person. She was an avid listener and had friends of all ages. I loved her so much because she had such strong convictions and spoke of them. She was pro-choice, wanting women to be able to make their own decisions but not treating abortion as a method of birth control. She never thought she was a good enough mother, but was our mother to the last day of her life. She was so brave when her oldest son died suddenly and she had to say goodbye to him in just a few hours. She was such a good minister’s wife at four churches and made Dad shine. I am so glad to have had Mom to love me for 70 years.

I would like to end with this prayer. It was written by my father, John M. Kellison, and given as an invocation at a church event on an unknown date:

Oh God, our Heavenly Father, who hast set the solitude in families; Look in favor, we beseech thee, upon the homes of thy people. Defend them against all evil, and supply all their needs according to the riches of Thy grace. Make them sanctuaries of purity and peace, love and joy. Bless all dear to us wherever they are, and grant they and we may follow Thee at every step of our daily life, that, though our paths shall lead us far from one another, we may all abide with the safe shelter of they love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

-Janis Kellison Holiwell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas