Obituaries for Plains Edition 4-25-09

James W. Blythman Jr., 89, of North Platte, died April 16, 2009, at Great Plains Regional Medical Center.

He was born on Sept. 23, 1919, to James William and Louise (Niethammer) Blythman Sr. in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he grew up.

He married Ellen Henry on Jan. 3, 1949. The couple lived in Peoria, Ill., before moving to North Platte. He worked at the Union Pacific Round House, and then went to work for the City of North Platte in the street department for 25 years.

He was a member of the Lincoln County Historical Society in North Platte and a member of the VFW.

He enjoyed fishing at the interstate lakes; was active with boy scouts in his younger years; he loved music and dancing.

Survivors include a daughter, Penny (Tom) Curry of Albuquerque, N.M.; son, Ted Blythman of McCook; brother, Robert Blythman of Niland, Calif.; sister, Esther Van Zile of Louisiana; five grandchildren, Dennis (Angie) Smith of North Platte, Victor Smith (fiance Brenda) of North Platte, Bobbie Jo Smith of Bellevue, Gary Blythman of Tennessee, John Curry of Albuquerque, N.M.; and eight great-grandchildren, Aaron, Tory, Austin, Ashton, Drey, Noel, Kaitlin, Crystal.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Ellen; son, Gary Wayne in 1976; and sister, Pauline Schiender.

Birdie Valerie Williams, 90, of Chadron died April 6, 2009, at Crestview Care Center in Chadron.

She was born on Jan. 23, 1919, in Cody to Charles and Rose Morton. She grew up on a small ranch with her family south of Nenzel. She was baptized in the Lutheran Church south of Crookston. She attended a one room country school through the 10th grade.

On Aug. 17, 1936, at the age of 17, she was united in marriage to Hans W. Ehlers of Nenzel. To this union three children were born – Jerry, Janice, and Jack. On May 31, 1952, she married Jesse P. Williams and traveled with him on construction sites throughout Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Iowa.

Her life was very interesting and busy, as she worked on ranches and for neighbors picking corn, haying, cooking, and housekeeping. She worked at the air base in Casper, Wyo. She also cooked in restaurants in Casper, Valentine, and Rushville.

She took care of the elderly, worked road construction, and cleaned in motels. She skinned minks at a mink farm and cooked at the CCC camp for the tree planters at the national forest. She also had a job in the watch tower in the forest south of Nenzel. She owned two cafes and a trailer court.

They retired in Lodgepole and then moved to Oregon. In 1997 they moved to Prairie Pines Lodge in Chadron.

She was an avid fisherman, gardener, and her reputation was unbeatable as a cook and baker. Whether the number was two or 30 you never left her table hungry.

Survivors include her three children, Jerry (Linda) Ehlers of Warrensburg, Mo.; Janice (Larry) Hollers of Chadron; Jack (Pat) Ehlers of Thermopolis, Wyo.; seven grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, four great-great grandchildren; and host of relatives, friends, and special friends that all called her “Gram Birdie.”

She was preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Rose Morton; her husband; one grandson, four brothers, three sisters, four nephews, three nieces, and four grand-nephews.

Gary D. Kraus, 64, of Minatare, died April 13, 2009, at his home.

He was born in Scottsbluff, on Oct. 18, 1944, to Fred and Irene (Keller) Kraus. He attended Fairview 50 through 8th grade and graduated from Minatare High School in 1962.

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1965 until 1969.

He married Joan Reynolds in Providence, R.I. on Aug. 31, 1968.

He returned to Nebraska in 1969 and attended WNCC in Sidney until 1971, he then farmed at Minatare until he retired from farming in 1993; he then worked at the Scottsbluff Public Schools for 12 years before retiring.

Besides taking care of the yard work, he also enjoyed camping, fishing and radio-controlled airplanes and helicopters.

Survivors include his wife, Joan of 40 years; son, Todd (Jessica); parents, Fred and Irene; brother, Rick (June); grandson, Jonah, and numerous cousins.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Vonda.

John Robert (Bob) Mulligan, 68, of Halsey, died at the Jennie Melham Medical Center in Broken Bow on April 10, 2009, surrounded by his family, after a valiant battle with cancer.

He was born Aug. 18, 1942, in Valentine to John J. Mulligan and Bernys (Dick) M. Lovejoy. He was raised on ranches in the Valentine and Ainsworth areas. He graduated from Ainsworth High School with the class of 1961.

In 1961, he married Mary E. Denny. This union was blessed with four children. He spent his life ranching in the Sandhills of Nebraska.

In 1987, he married Sherry (Harsh) Moody. In 1991 his dream of owning his own ranch came true, when they purchased their ranch north of Halsey. He was proud of the purebred cattle he raised in addition to his commercial herd. He enjoyed raising quarter horses, giving away several over the years.

His love of the rodeo arena became his passion in high school. He was an avid roper his whole life. He calf roped and bulldogged early in his career, winning the NSRA Calf Roper Champion in 1971. He trained roping horses for himself and others. Star and Tommy were some of his best work. He was a member of the Senior Steer Roping Association and steer roped in New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska. They enjoyed traveling in their motor home to the ropings and spending time with the many friends they made throughout his roping career.

Cheyenne Frontier Days was always a highlight of the roping season. He made it to short go several times in Cheyenne. On any given summer evening the sounds of the chute could be heard at Mulligan’s arena as friends and neighbors gathered to practice chasing a few steers. He passed his love of roping to any kid that showed interest, by teaching them how to rope.

He was a good neighbor and friend. He enjoyed starting his day in Halsey over a cup of coffee, solving the world’s problems with his friends. He also enjoyed coyote hunting with his family, friends and hounds.

Survivors include his wife, Sherry; daughters, Tanna (Rick) Licking, of Thedford; and Christi (Joe) Leonard of Bassett; sons, Mark (Judy) Mulligan of Halsey; and Bobby (Marcy) Mulligan of Tonkowa, Okla.; stepdaughter, Pam (Russ) Moody DeNaeayer of Purdum; stepson, Mile (Cheryl) Moody of Purdum; 17 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren; sister, Betty (Bill) Joseph of Valentine; and brother, Doug Mulligan and Nadine Baxter of Ainsworth plus many other relatives, friends and his horse, Tommy.

He was preceded in death by his parents.