Obituaries for Plains Edition |

Obituaries for Plains Edition

Merlin Helm, 66, of Ogallala, died peacefully on Aug. 17, 2008, with his wife and daughters by his side at the Northern Colorado Long-Term Acute Hospital in Johnstown, Colo.

He was born April 8, 1942, in Bassett. He was raised on his parent’s ranch 19 miles south of Bassett. He attended Rock County High School in Bassett, graduating in 1960.

On June 8, 1963, he married LaVina Rae Finnegan from Sioux City, Iowa. They resided on the ranch where the couple raised two daughters. In 1985, they sold the ranch and moved to Bassett. In 2005, the couple moved to Ogallala, here he worked at 21st Century Equipment.

He was on the Bassett Volunteer Fire Department for 27 years and was a member of the Bassett Ambulance Squad. While in Bassett, he served as County Commissioner for one and a half terms and volunteered and served on numerous boards and committees. After moving to Ogallala, he continued his dedication to community service. He was an active member of RSVP and was serving as Trail Boss of the Drovers when he became ill.

Family and friends were important to him. He especially enjoyed spending time with his great-grandson, Atley Sherfey, age 2, and little friend, Gracie Knoeke, age 2-1/2, who called him Papa.

Merlin and Rae recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary with family and close friends.

Survivors include his wife, Rae Helm of Ogallala; daughters, Teresa (Lyle) Sherfey of Lisco and Maureen Helm of Ogallala; brother, Eugene (Judy) Helm of Anderson, Ind.; grandchildren, Andrew (Candice) Sherfey of Lisco and Stephanie (Matt) Gilbert of Grovetown, Georgia; great-grandson, Atley Sherfey; exchange daughter, Marisela Munguia and husband, Gus Arichega of Hermosillo, Mexico and their children Astrid, Gustavo and Arlyn; special friends, Gracie and Lilly Knoeke of Ogallala; close cousin, Lois (Fred) Nydle of Ottumwa, Iowa, and twelve nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Clifford and Hulda (Boerger) Helm of Rose, Neb.

Fredia E. Dennis, 59, of North Platte, died Aug. 22, 2008, at Great Plains Regional Medical Center.

She was born Jan. 1, 1949, to Dale Eugene and Rosella Irene Love Murphy in Thedford.

She married George Dennis in North Platte, the couple had three children. She and her family have been North Platte residents for the last 20 years.

She enjoyed watching law enforcement shows like Law and Order and CSI.

She loved animals, especially her dog, Ursula and her cat, Lenore. She enjoyed cooking, reading Harlequin Romance novels, playing penny and nickel slot machines and visiting with people. She will be remembered as a happy, loving and out-going person who will be missed by all who knew her.

Survivors include a daughter, April Dennis of North Platte; two sons, George Dennis Jr. and Robin Dennis both of North Platte; mother, Rosella Murphy of North Platte; a sister, Nina (Larry) Hardy of Seneca; three brothers, Dale Murphy, Ron (Bonnie) Murphy and Mitch (Janet) Murphy all of North Platte; many nieces, nephews and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband, George in 1991; her father; a nephew, Mitch Murphy; and a niece, Thelma Roper.

Ivan L. Simmons, 78, of Kearney, formerly of Miller, died Aug. 20, 2008, at Gibbon Good Samaritan Center.

He was born Nov. 8, 1929, north of Miller to Irvin and Ada (Mowrey) Simmons.

On Aug. 18, 1954, he married Shirley Spellmeyer in Benkelman.

He began his education at a country school north of Miller. He went to high school in Mason City and graduated in 1948. One of the highlights of his high school years was playing football, which he dearly loved.

The U.S. Army came calling in 1951. He served two years in the Army and was stationed in Germany for most of his tour. While standing in line for the bus going to boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he met Floyd “Buck” Schroeder, now of Ravenna. Right there they decided to be best friends, a friendship that lasted throughout his life.

He ran the family farm north of Miller until 1960 when he moved to town. He took over Simmons Tavern, a business originally owned by his father. After selling the tavern, he worked at the alfalfa mills in Odessa and Elm Creek during the summer and hunted raccoons and coyotes during the winter. He learned the love of hunting from his father and passed that love on to his children and grandchildren.

He enjoyed playing and watching baseball and softball, riding and breaking horses, raising hunting dogs and spending time with family. His grandchildren held a special place in his heart.

He lived in the Miller area until March 2006 when he moved to Kearney. Because of his declining health, he went to live at Gibbon Good Samaritan Center where he resided until his death.

Survivors include his wife; son, Mike of Kearney; daughter, Jackie (Bill) Janssen of Litchfield; grandchildren, Michelle (Gary) Cheloha of Gering, Craig (Stephanie) Simmons of Miller and Rocky Janssen of Elm Creek; great-grandchildren, Derek Janssen and Seth and Thomas Timmons, all of Elm Creek, Scout Simmons of Miller and Gracyn Cheloha of Gering; foster grandchildren, Jade, Bridgette and Maeda Janssen of Litchfield; mother-in-law, Phyllis Spencer of Kearney; niece, Diane (Simonson) Harris of Holdrege; and other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Lila Simonson; brother-in-law, Richard Simonson; and foster sister, Malissa “June” Carpenter.

Mary LuElla Fritz, 76, of rural Clarks died Aug. 25, 2008, at her home with her family at her side.

She was born on March 17, 1932, on the family farm north of Central City to Walter and Frankie (Good) Garrett.

She was the seventh of eight children born to her parents. She attended school at District 13 and graduated from Central City High School with the class of 1949.

She married Hubert William Fritz on July 21, 1949, in Aurora. In the spring of 1966, they purchased the farm from the Ferguson Estate. They moved to the farm which is seven and one half miles northwest of Clarks in January of 1967, which is where she remained until her death.

She loved Nebraska football, golf, camping, music especially the piano and organ. She was an excellent cook, loved preparing for family holidays, sewing and quilting.

Survivors include her husband, Hubert of Clarks; three daughters, Linda (Bernard) Niemeyer of Kearney, Barbara Fritz and John Farnes of Wellington, Colo., and Anne (Steve) Niffenegger of Fairfield, Calif.; two sons, Tom (Peggy) Fritz of Stromsburg and John Fritz and Chrissy Harreus of Clarks; two sisters, Virginia Stalker of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Muriel Schroyer of Laramie, Wyo.; two brothers, Mark (Marjorie) Garrett of Great Bend, Kan., and David (Jill) Garrett of Central City; 17 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren; brother-in-law, Leonard Hoffman of Bradshaw; sisters-in-law, Theresa Garrett of Grand Island, Doris Garrett of Central City, and Delores and Kenneth Dittmer of Clarks; and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by a daughter, Nancy Kay; a son, Joseph Bradley; her parents; two brothers, Warren and Wesley; a sister, Helen Hoffman and two brothers-in-law, Howard Schroyer and Thayne Stalker.


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