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Jennie Monk - January 11, 2011


Jennie Kathryn Monk was born Nov. 3, 1912 in Burt County, Neb. to Olof and Hulda Wiklund Oman. She died and completed her life’s work Jan. 11, 2011 in Yuma.

Her family homesteaded west of Cope in 1915, and Jennie had fond memories of early work with her three older sisters and younger brother.

The family moved to Wray in 1927, and Jennie continued work with school—delivering newspapers with her brother and doing all the cooking and washing for the Wray hospital with her sister Lillie.

After graduation, she attended Teachers’ College in Greeley, living with her uncle and aunt. She said her uncle convinced the dean to let her live off-campus, saying “that girl can’t afford to live in a dormitory.”

She taught schools in the northeast part of Yuma County for a dozen years, forming lifelong bonds with students and parents. Some years she lived with families such as the Sheridans and O’Neals, and other years lived in a dugout near the school. Students from 1935 still phoned and visited her.

In 1943 she was living in a lean-to at the Wages store, teaching at the school across the road because of gasoline rationing. She was a clerk for the Ration Board and met Bert Monk when he signed up for gasoline. He asked her out and proposed a month later—on Valentine’s Day.

Bert and Jennie whole-heartedly merged their extended families, loving nieces and nephews without regard to whether they were a Monk or an Oman.

They also supported Pleasant Valley Church, the one-room school (which Bert allowed to be moved to his land) and their neighbors. They loved to serve as election judges and loved to garden.

They helped their children, grandchildren, extended family and neighbors in many activities, whether it was using Bert’s cement mixer to pour a shed foundation for a neighbor, taking a neighbor to Denver for medical treatment, anonymously contributing money or hosting meals.

Many people don’t remember the 1959 auto accident. She coped with the back and head pain for the rest of her life and rarely complained about it.

Bert and Jennie liked to try different things. In the 1960s Jennie took care of the four young children of Don and Betty Blach. After they began school, Jennie then worked at the Lone Star school as an aide.

Bert died in 1971 and Jennie lived on the farm, gardening, sewing and doing church work. She loved the Pleasant Valley Vacation Bible School, for example.

In 1978 she moved to Yuma and continued community work with Yuma United Methodist Church, the History of West Yuma County publication, teaching rug-weaving at the Yuma museum, working at Meet and Eat and gardening. She and Nancy Hansen spent many mornings with their flowers and vegetables, taking great pleasure in the work and each other’s company.

She was always adventuresome, driving in 1939 to the New York World’s Fair and going on tours to Disney World, the Rose Parade and Broadway shows.

In 2000 she moved to Parrish Care, enjoying the new friends and making the best of her reduced mobility. She continued to sew and attended the Yuma Methodist church as long as she could.

She and Bert were generous all their lives to their children, their parents, their siblings, their 36 nieces and nephews, their neighbors, their churches and their communities. Her family was always glad to talk to her and will strive to emulate her good spirits, smile and energy.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Bert; siblings, Annie (Otto) Sundquist, Esther (Leroy) Jameson, Lillie (George) McGinnis and Herbert (Lucille) Oman; daughter-in-law, Nancy Kellberg Monk; and Bert’s siblings, Zella (Charles) Piper, Phoebe (Carroll) Josh, Beulah (Doyle) Neiman, Dale (Elsie) Monk and William Monk.

She is survived by Bob and Patty Spellman; Marion and Carol Monk; grandchildren, Mary and Howard of Yuma, Kelly and Chad of Dallas, Texas, Dallas of Pullman, Wash., Roger (Trish, Timmy and Elizabeth) of Lincoln, Neb. and Devin of Austin, Texas; sisters-in-law, Arliss Monk of Greeley and Dolly Monk of Yuma; 32 nieces and nephews and their families; and a host of good friends.

The funeral service was held Jan. 14 at United Methodist Church in Yuma with Pastor Ed Bollack and Pastor Joyce Hudiburgh officiating. Interment followed at Yuma Cemetery.

Baucke Funeral Home directed the service.