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In Memory of Lawrence John Riedmann
Lawrence, or Lory as he was called in the family, was born August 5, 1930 on Al and Frances 11th wedding anniversary. He attended St. Patricks Grade School and South High School. After school he drove a truck and delivered pop for his dad at Willow Springs. His customers were fond of him. His older brother Al took over his route for him after he was called up into the Army to go to Korea. Al said they all remembered him when news came out of his death in the war.
Lory was a carefree and fun-loving young man, with an ornery side that could get him in trouble. But because of his pleasing personality it was hard for people to get mad at him. He use to tag along with brother Al and would occasionally double date with him and his girlfriend, and future wife, Shirley. They use to go roller skating quite often. He also loved swimming at Peony Park and would attend dances there. He met Birdie Marsh and was dating her before he was called back into active duty. He had a Chevrolet that he use to drive and was very proud of. He gave it to his younger brother Lou when he left for Korea.
He originally enlisted in the Army in 1948 with the help of his mother. He was never fond of working at the pop plant and wanted to get away. After basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and his first tour he came back home. He was later recalled to active duty during the Korean War on September 28, 1950. Lory was 20 years old. He served with the 2nd Division, 23rd Infantry Reg, E Company. He was shipped to Korea on December 23rd as a rifleman. He arrived in Korea on January 1, 1951, shortly after the Chinese entry in the Korean War and the American retreat from the Chosin Reservoir. He fought during Operation Ripper, the UN counterattack to push the Communist Chinese forces back to the 38th parallel. He fought in the famous Battle of Chipyong-ni three weeks before he was killed. This battle is regarded as the Gettysberg of the Korean War and was a major turning point. His regiment earned the Presidential Unit Citation for this battle.
Lory was killed in battle on March 8th, 1951. His parents, Al and Frances, were notified a month later by telegram on April 8th. Al was at work at the pop plant at 13th and Jones when the telegram came. The messenger who delivered the telegram stayed while Al read the letter and made sure Al was okay before he left the plant. Al called his daughter Frannie and asked her to go be with her mom at the house at 504 Martha. He then called the kids and told them about Lory. He asked that they wait until he went home and told Frances himself. The minute he walked in the door Frances knew it was about Lory. Al's face was white.
Lorys body was returned to the United States. A Mass for him was held at St. Patricks Church on 14th and Castelar. He was taken to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where a Requiem High Mass was held. He is buried in the base cemetery at Fort Leavenworth, grave 300 C Station B. His mom wanted him buried there to be with the rest of his buddies whom he served with. His name can be also found on the Korean War Memorial at Memorial Park in Omaha. Lory posthumously was awarded a Purple Heart and received several other medals for his service. His brother Lou proudly displays the flag that was draped over his casket. His nephew Chip has accumulated the medals he earned. May he rest in peace.
The story of Lory's experiences in Korea have been documented and can be viewed by downloading it here. It is a large file and will take a minute or more. As more information is discovered the story will be updated.
In Memory of Ruth Ann Riedmann Elsasser
Ruth was born April 4th, 1933, the seventh of eight children. Growing up in South Omaha she attended St. Patrick's grade school and South High School. She met Gene Elsasser when they were both 13 years old. He was a paperboy in the area and with her mom's permission he would stop back at the Riedmann house to visit her after delivering his paper route. He would eventual propose to her years later. They were married shortly after high school on June 22, 1953. They would soon have three children, Debbie, Gary and Dale.
Ruth would go to work at John Opitz car dealership after high school for a short while. Ruth also had a day care and was co-owner of Aspen RV with Gene. She would occasionally travel to Elkhart Indiana with Gene to pick up an RV or a camper to drive back to Omaha with Gene following in another RV or camper. Eventually she went to work for Ferrellgas till she passed away. She loved working for the company and when she was told she would have to transfer to Kansas City she took the offer. She started as a bookkeeper and would advance to an auditor position in the company because of her good work ethic. She was very well liked by everyone in the company.
For those of you that knew Ruth, you know that she loved children, golf, a Windsor Press, a cold beer by the water or on a boat, football games, shopping anywhere, traveling, or at home entertaining family and friends. She had fun with whatever she was doing.
For those of you that didn't know Ruth, she was one heck of a lady and one great Mom. If she was alive today should still be doing all the things she always did. She would probably be retired but busier than ever. She would be doing some traveling with her family and spending a lot of time watching her grandkids grow up.
Ruth left Gene around 1984 or 85 to start a fresh life. Unfortunately she found she was in the late stages of ovarian cancer in February, 1990. It had advanced too far for much to be done. She was still living in Kansas City at that time and her children would travel down to be with her as she underwent chemotherapy. She fought the battle for two years before finally leaving us at too young an age on January 26, 1992. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery next to her parents on the north side of the cemetery. RIP
In Memory of Madeline Marie Riedmann and Anton Richard Panowicz, Sr.
Madeline "Madge" Riedmann Panowicz was born September 16, 1920 to Alfred and Frances (Vacek) Riedmann in Omaha, Nebraska. She was the oldest of eight brothers and sisters. She grew up in Omaha attending Train School, St. Patrick's Grade School and South High School. She was a talented seamstress and won first place in the Nebraska High School Sewing Contest. She baby-sat in the summers, starting at age 12. She could cook and bake as well as her mom.
Anton "Tony" Panowicz was born on February 7, 1918 to John and Victoria (Pruss) Panowicz in St. Paul, Nebraska. He graduated from St. Paul High School in 1935. Tony joined the Grand Union Tea Company of Omaha, Nebraska acting as sales manager for crews of salesmen covering the states of Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.
On Sunday nights Madge and her sister Renie would go out to meet boys and dance at either Sokol Park, south of Omaha by the Platte River, during the summer months and Sokol Hall on 13th Street during the rest of the year. This was despite the complaining of their father. There parents would also attend, probably to keep an eye on the girls, and visit with friends and other members of the family. Their dad enjoyed the beer and their mom loved to visit the Vacek family. Madge met Tony at a polka dance held at Sokol Park. His first dance was with her sister, Renie, much to the dismay to Madge who already had her eye on him. Being the older sister she let Renie know that he was hands off.
Tony was drafted into the service and sent to boot camp in Little Rock, Arkansas. Madge and Tony wanted to get married before he left, but there was not enough time to arrange it. Her mom promised they could get married on his first furlough. The furlough came through at the end of June when he was to be sent to Officers Candidate School in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He was given a 10 day leave. It took Tony 4 days to hitchhike back to Omaha. He arrived the day before the wedding. Madge had a wedding shower, bought her dress and made arrangements for the wedding in that short time. Madge and Tony were finally married on July 5, 1942 at St. Patrick's Church. The reception and polka dance was held at the American Legion Hall in South Omaha. They both left Omaha by train for Virginia 2 days after the wedding.
Before he went overseas he was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington where he and his new bride first became acquainted with Olympia. She returned to Omaha to stay with her parents when Tony left for Europe. Their first child, Rick, was born on March 26, 1944 while Tony was oversees. The first time Tony saw his his son was in the fall of 1945 after he was discharged from the Army.
Major Panowicz was with the XIX Corps of Engineers that ultimately stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy France. The Corps fought through France, Belgium, into Germany and finally Berlin, participating in the defeat of Nazi Germany. Tony directed the construction of the first bridge over the Rhine River into Germany. He received many citations for his military career including the Bronze Star.
While in Germany Tony took the opportunity to search out Fr. Alois Riedmann who was Madge's great uncle. Alois was in hiding during this time of the war as Catholic priests were always under risk of persecution. When Tony reached the town Fr. Alois was in he began asking the townsfolk where he could find him. They were very reluctant to to help him as everyone was suspicious of anyone they didn't know, especially a soldier in uniform. He was directed to an alley with an iron gate. He called out for Fr. Alois who eventually appeared but was very hesitant to talk with him. After Tony explained, in great length, who he was and that he was married to a Riedmann in America Fr. Alois let him in. They eventually shared a glass of cognac and had this picture taken.
Upon returning home for the war Tony and Madge remembered their early 40's stay in Olympia and returned for good in 1946. Madge really wanted to stay in Omaha and be with her family. She cried half the way to Washington. About halfway there she called home. Her mom made it clear in no uncertain terms that Tony was her husband and she belonged with him. That settled the matter. Together they opened the "Jewel Box" in 1948 and it eventually became Panowicz Jewelers and Gem Shop. They later sold the shop to their son Rob in 1982.
Tony and Madge had three sons and a daughter: Richard, Robert, Russell and Ruthann Goularte. They have four grandchildren.
The community was very important to Madge and Tony. She always believed that "you must give back what you receive." They were members of the St. Michael Parish, Olympia Yacht Club, Olympia Country Club, Olympia Opera Guild where they helped several people with their careers, and the Washington Center for Performing Arts. She also was also active in Saint Agatha Guild, Catholic Youth Organization, Catholic Daughters of America, and Rosarian Guild. Tony was also active in the Fraternal Order of Elks, the American Gem Society, Rotary, and the Knights of Columbus. He was a past president of the Washington State Jewelers Association and was on the boards of Saint Martin's College, the Salvation Army, Heritage Park, Retail Jewelers of America, and the Washington Center for Performing Arts. Tony was honored by the Masterworks Choral Ensemble for outstanding contributions to the Arts and to the community.
Tony and Madge, besides their many friends and family, enjoyed traveling and had done so extensively over the years. She would help out occasionally at her daughter Ruthann's store, Drees. When not helping someone, or traveling, Tony and Madge could be found on their beloved boat, "Mona Lisa".
Madge died of cardiac arrest on July 11, 1994, six days after their 52nd anniversary. She was an optimist and had a strong desire to help young people get ahead. She also remembered how hard it was to be a newcomer in Olympia and liked to help people meet each other.
Tony died of lung cancer on January 5, 1997. Tony will always be remembered as an upbeat person who was a pillar of the Olympia community.
In Memory of Clement Julius Van Moorleghem
"Clem" was born on September 6th, 1922 in Underwood, Iowa. His family owned a farm at the time and moved to Omaha when he was 9 months old. He was the youngest of five children. His parents were Rene and Laura Van Moorleghem from Ingooihem, Belgium. His brothers and sisters were Hazel Van Moorleghem Miller, George, Ambrose, and Jerome. He attended St. Mary's and Corrigan Grade Schools and South High School. His father was a carpenter and Clem helped him build three homes after work for himself, Irene and their children. While growing up during the Great Depression he was paperboy for the Omaha Bee News and a caddy at Happy Hollow Country Club. He gave everything he earned to his Mom to help pay the bills. She would give him a potato that admitted him to the movies on Saturday plus he received a nickel for an ice cream cone. It was the highlight of his week. He worked at F.W. Woolworth Co. in South Omaha during his senior year at high school for credits to graduate, going to school in the morning and working in the afternoon. He started as a stock boy (stocking storeroom shelves plus receiving freight).In 1941 he was made an assistant manager.
He met his wife, Irene Riedmann, while working at F. W. Woolworth. She was an assistant manager and window trimmer at the time. They became engaged before he left to serve during World War II. They were married July 10, 1943 in Harlingen Texas, Clem was in gunnery school at that time, and asked Irene to come down and visit during his first furlough. Irene did not know until she arrived that he had already talked to a priest to arrange the wedding . They called both their moms to tell them of their decision to marry. Clem's best friend Wayne Ross was the best man and Irene's sister Fran was the maid of honor. He had to be back on base the next night, so there was no honeymoon. During World War II he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 3,1941.He served three years. He was a gunner, flight engineer and mechanic on the B-24 Bomber, also known as the "Flying Boxcar". He belonged to the American Legion South Omaha Post #331 for 57 years.
After the war he went to work at Miller Pontiac in the parts department, then as manager for Marlin Associates, which later became United Electric Supply Corp. United Electric is a retail and wholesale company that specializes in light fixtures and electrical supplies. With the support of the owners, Clem built the company up from a small business originally at 46th and Dodge to today's operation, which has the largest showroom in the Midwest and the largest electrical supplier to the homebuilding industry in Omaha. Over time he invested in the company to become an equal shareholder with the other owners. He worked there 45 years, up until the time of his death.
He enjoyed fishing and was a natural at golf. He loved music, especially Frank Sinatra and big band great Glenn Miller. When the family hears Frank Sinatra they automatically think of their dad. He answered to the names of "Babe" as a youth, Van in business, Clem to his wife and dad to his children.>
Clem and Irene were blessed with a large beautiful family. Their children are Dennis (Denny), Wayne, William (Bill), Susan (Sue) Sandra (Sandy) and Scott. As of 2002, they had 18 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, 3 step-grandchildren and 2 step great-grandchildren.
Clem passed away on March 18th, 2001. He was buried in Calvary Mausoleum after a Mass at St. John Vianney Church in Omaha.
In Memory of Frances Ann Riedmann and Robert Garvin
Frances was the fourth child of Alfred and Frances. She was born May 26, 1923 in Omaha Nebraska. She was the second child born in their longtime home at 504 Martha. As a child she attended St. Patrick's grade school and South High School.
Frannie, as she was called by her family, enjoyed roller skating as she grew up. While in high school she worked at F. W. Woolworth in South Omaha, starting at the candy counter and eventually moving up to the make-up counter. Looking back it is little wonder that she would succeed in any endeavor which involved working with people. Fran was always an outgoing person who could quickly charm the socks off all whom she met, drawing them to her because of her open heart and pleasing personality. Fran would next work at the downtown Borsheim's until she and Liz Danford went into business together in a Handy Dandy Grocery store around 43rd and Leavenworth. This was in the 1940's when businesses could only be open 6 days a week. Many stores closed on Sundays, except Fran and Liz's store. They decided to close Saturday and stay open on Sunday. This shrewd little move allowed to them to become successful as that is when they made most of the their profits.
Fran met Chet Quistad while roller skating at the rin on Leavenworth Street. They married and had two children, Dan and David. After several years she met Bob Garvin and dated him for some time with no one aware of it. She filed for divorce from Chet around their 11th anniversary. Her father was quite upset about it as divorce was very rare back then and even more so if you were Catholic. After an argument with her father she got back together with Chet for one week, then moved out of town without telling anyone. She moved to California with Bob and the boys for reasons unknown. They settled down in the Los Angeles area. Her mind was set. She loved Bob and this is where she was going to stay. Her family was crushed by what had happened. It was almost 16 years before they came back to Omaha.
Fran was very independent and very focused in her thinking . She knew what she wanted, or wanted to do, and got it done. This may explain a little of her actions in her move away from Omaha and her successful business acumen she later developed.
She and Bob worked many years for Camping World as ambassadors. At that time Camping World was a small company in southern California specializing in the sales of RVs. With the help of Fran and Bob the company grew to a coast to coast business selling RVs and camping supplies. They traveled the country and visited any campground or camping facility they crossed to leave information about Camping World and the products they sold. They would visit with people who camped to tell them about the company and build goodwill for the company. This proved very successful for the everyone.
Bob loved fishing, sometimes going to great lengths to provide the opportunity for getting out. He even bought a boat, under the guise of becoming a sailor of sorts, in order to get the whole family out on the water. But they knew better. Unfortunately the launching of the boat was not the pleasant experience he desired. Both times in fact. But that is a story for his sons to pass on.
Dan and David said Fran loved McDonalds, a lot. There was a restaurant near her and she went there everyday and had a chicken sandwich. They also laugh about how scary it was to ride with her in the car. Seatbelts were mandatory when she was driving long before the federal government became concerned about safety. She didn't have to say a word, everyone knew if they wanted to survive the drive they had better buckle up!
Fran passed away October 16, 2005. On November 5, 2005, after a mass at St. John Vianney, she was buried next to her husband Bob at the Calvary Mausoleum in Omaha. She died two weeks short of a year after her husband. Looking back it can easily be said that they were made for each other. They lived happily together and apparently couldn't bear being apart for too long. Now they are together again.
In Memory of Mary Pat Riedmann Greene
Mary Pat was born October 25, 1955, She was the 3rd of 5 girls. She attended Mercy High School and the College of St. Mary. She received a degree in early childhood education. Mary Pat was the loving mother of 3 children, Tricia, Daniel and David. When not raising her kids she was a long time employee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Mary Pat was the "quiet one" until she got to know you. Even then, she was a woman of few words. Every now and then a comment would coming zinging out and you'd think "where'd that come from!" She led the family in the locomotion at every wedding reception. That was the fun, outgoing side of Mary Pat. Usually, she didn't like to be the center of attention. She was also a great confidante. She never revealed what you told her and that was true all of her life. She was always dad's favorite; the one who got to paint with him, who worked the longest at the bottling plant with him, the one who helped him at the rental property. Her nickname was "Mary Pet" to her sisters.
She was a great mom. Always there to help the kids up when they fell (or failed), but strong enough to let them take the fall in the first instance, so they could learn consequences. She had a great relationship with her kids, always ready to listen but slow to criticize.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2007 and treated until mid-2008. She was a very faith-filled person; and strong. Sitting in her hospital room after her lung biopsy (which later came back normal) she was asked if she had hit the point of asking "why me?" Her response was "Not really. Why not me? A lot of women have breast cancer." She took her disease without complaining. All the signs were that she had it beat but then was told it had metastasized to her liver in February of 2009. She passed away September 19, 2009. Her obituary can be read by clicking here. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Omaha. May she rest in peace.
In Memory of Sharon Mae (Whitson) Riedmann
Sharon Mae Whitson was born the second of three sisters on December 8, 1947 in St Paul, Minnesota to Allan and Phyllis Whitson. She had two sisters named Kathy and Sandy. The family moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1948 because her dad was given a new sales territory for the company he worked for. She attended Washington Senior High School and worked at Bell Air drug store during high school. She had 65 Mustang that her and Sandy loved to drive around town. Sharon had the bad habit of peeling out, or drag racing, whenever she went out. It didn't take long and she ruined the tires and had to buy new ones. She never told her dad what they were doing and he wondered why there was an extra pair of tires in the garage. He eventually figured it out. After high school she went to the Stewart School of Hairstyling in Sioux Falls and graduated in 1970. She moved to Omaha in 1971 and worked for a Stewarts shop until she opened her own shop.
She met Lou Riedmann during Thanksgiving of 1972 while they were on separate vacations in Acapulco. Though both had different dates for the trip they were attracted to each other when they met. When they returned to Omaha it took Lou six months to get her phone number. He had to get it from the guy she was dating (he had stopped dating her but didn't want him to have it). Then he was afraid to call her for fear she would say no. He called a mutual friend, Jane Ford, and asked her the next time she saw Sharon to ask if she would be interested in dating him. Sharon said yes but the first date was a complete disaster. He brought her down to the cabin at Hansen's Lakes for the evening with other couples. A big fight erupted amongst the other couples and it ruined the night. Sharon ended up walking out and she wanted nothing to do with him and wanted to go home. He called her a week later and asked her out to dinner in the Old Market at the French Cafe. She accepted and they had a pleasant evening. Unfortunately she was still dating someone else and he had to out wait him. Eventually Lou told her that he wasn't going to wait forever. It turned out the other guy was gay, the relationship ended and Lou was in. She married Lou on August 21, 1976 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They had a large reception shortly afterwards in Omaha on the fifth floor patio of the Woodmen of the World Tower.
Sharon opened her own shop on Capehart Rd. in Bellevue on July 6, 1984 named the Hair Hut. She opened a second shop 3-4 years later called SR & Co. on Harvell Dr. in Bellevue. Although she had built a loyal customer following she eventually closed both shops because the strain of running both and doing hair at the same time took its toll. Next she sold phones but that didn't appeal to her. Diamonds however did. Her sister-in-law Shirley Riedmann helped her get started at Borsheims Fine Jewelry in 1991. While there she took a Gemology class and passed the test to become a certified gemologist in 1997. She eventually became one of their top sellers because of the excellent connections she and Lou had throughout Omaha. With her natural knack for making people feel comfortable she developed a clientele that stretched around the world.
Sharon loved her family and friends. She always told Sandy she was adopted just to torment her like only a big sister can. Some say Sharon was a demanding person, but she would tell you she was "uniquely demanding". She loved her bling and her two dogs Sasha and Lucy. She loved anything with monkeys and gardening. She didn't like to be alone. She was very outgoing and accepting of people as they were and very giving. She was willing to try anything and get you to try it too. Her family and friends were treated with love and kindness and she pursued all her desires with a passion for success. She enjoyed a full life with a loving husband, a beautiful family, exciting travel, loving dogs and a garden like no other.
Sharon discovered she had cancer on May 13, 2010. In her fight with cancer she proved she was a trooper and could fight any battle. She wrote up a bucket list of the things she wanted to do before she died and worked hard at achieving them. She traveled to Paris, California wine country, Eddies Island in Canada, the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas, and traveled around the country to see her friends and family in Dallas and Washington DC. God came and swept her soul to heaven with a mighty gust of wind on Good Friday, April 6, 2012. Two fine eulogies were given for her at her funeral. They provide an excellent look at her life, her career and her uniqueness. To read Lisa Lackovic's eulogy click here and to read Susan Jacques's click here. Her obituary was listed in several papers and can be found by clicking here.
Her final resting place is in Omaha at the Resurrection Cemetery outdoor mausoleum facing the fountain. May God's eternal light always shine upon her.
In Memory of George Boris and Elizabeth "Betty" Jane (Farrell) Riedmann
George Riedmann was the first son born to Alfred and Frances Riedmann on October 5, 1926. As were his sisters before him he was born at their home at 504 Martha St. He was named after his grandfather Georg Riedmann. As a young boy he had blonde curly hair. While the color may have darkened the curls never left. He attended St. Patrick's Grade School and South High School. He played in the South Omaha Sons of the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps. His father was a very active in the American Legion, including holding the office of president several times. All four of the Riedmann boys played in the Drum and Bugle Corps. George also like to play the harmonica when he was young and took it with him wherever he went. While at South High he had the honor of being the first male cheerleader for the high school.
During high school George and his bothers worked at their father's pop plant at 13th & Leavenworth. Later the plant moved to 18th & California. They would take a street car from school to get to work. George did buy a Mercury car and motorcycle which he would use to get around. George worked in the plant and his brothers Al and Lory would handle the deliveries.
Between his high school years and before he joined the Navy in World War II George went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad. Then the war came and as soon as he reached the age of 18 he joined the Navy rather than wait for the draft notice and be taken by the Army. George did not want to be in the infantry and his father was in the Navy during World War I. He received his training at the Naval Air Station in Olathe, Kansas and then was later stationed at the Naval Air Station Grosse Ile, Michigan. He worked as a navigator and a radio operator. He would work with the pilots conducting tests with newly invented bombs and drop them on an island to test their design. While he was flying and working as a radio operator his headphones exploded and caused severe damage to his hearing. The Navy supplied him with free hearing aids the rest of his life.
Betty Farrell was born September 27, 1926 in South Omaha to a large, close knit Irish Catholic family. She was the oldest of eight children. She had with two brothers and five sisters. The Farrell’s lived, shopped and attended church and schools all in South Omaha. Her father, Edmond Farrell was a livestock commission salesman at the Omaha Stockyards all his working years, and his two sons followed in his footsteps. With a moderate income they all attended St. Agnes grade school. The family was regarded as a very strict catholic family, as most Irish families of the time were. A good deal of the family time was spent at St. Agnes Church. They attended mass, devotions, benediction, novenas, weekly confession and weekly communion which was very unusual at the time, but not for the Farrell’s.
Betty attended South High School contrary to the family’s wishes but there was no money for tuition to a Catholic high school. She worked at Neisners 5 & 10 cent store, as it was called, in the cafeteria department. Betty was later recommended for a position at Prudential Insurance in downtown Omaha at 17th & Farnam where she worked for many years.
She was very close to her sisters as the Farrell family was very important to her. She was a little mother to all her sisters and loved combing their hair. One particular day the neighbor lady cut a little sister’s hair. Betty and the sister decided to run away from home. They soon changed their mind as we all do. After the birth of the eighth child her father hired a German housekeeper for 30 days. Betty accused her of being a Nazi agent which was not a nice thing to do at the time. Otherwise, Betty was a good example of being a perfect daughter, so every child would follow her example. When playing house Betty would tell her sisters that she had visions of joining the convent and becoming a nun. They would agree and promise to follow. As George would say, “It was not to be because of me".
George and Betty met while at South High. They were same age and had some classes together but didn't start dating until later. She was so bashful and had no interest in boys. Her closest friends were girls from St. Agnes. George and Betty took a serious liking of each other after he returned from World War II. George went to the sugar rationing office and shared an elevator ride with Betty and her sister Margie who going to visit another sister Mary Clare who worked at the rationing office. George knew Mary Clare’s boyfriend Ray Smolinski, so later he asked him to arrange a blind date with Betty to the Peony Park dance hall. He had a motorcycle, which was almost scandalous at that time, and despite being shy she would ride on it with him. Since George was also Catholic that gave him an "in" with her parents. When George took Betty to meet his parents his mom knew right away that Betty was the girl for George. After a courtship of a couple of years they were married at St. Agnes Church on May 1st, 1948. They moved into their first house on 39th & Gordon and later moved to a house on Hanscom Blvd. as the family quickly added five girls.
After the war George returned to Omaha and decided to go to work for his father at Willow Springs Bottling. His father gave he and his brothers Al and Lory part ownership in the company. Betty was not real happy that he did not go back to Union Pacific. She felt it was a better company to work for and had better benefits. But, like his siblings and in-law's George would become a successful businessman eventually taking over the ownership of Willow Springs Bottling which he later renamed Cornhusker Beverage Mart while keeping the Willow Springs name as the official business name. In the 60's they sold the plant and the company's franchise rights to the popular lines of pop in that day, including 7 Up, Dr Pepper, Orange Crush and Squirt, to Consolidated Beverages. George went to work for Fontenelle Springs, a competitor in the pop business, then decided to open his own pop plant. In 1968 he built a new facility for bottling pop and selling liquor in west Omaha at 85th & K St., where it still operates. The early years were hard and the days long as he built up the business. In those days bottles were returnable so he had a drive thru built in so his customers didn't have to leave the car. As the business grew he became the largest beer keg retailer in Omaha. A fact that still stands today. He introduced Goody pop and its 24 flavors to the Omaha market along with producing Double Cola, Frosty Root Beer and other pop products. You can read more about the company's history in a 1984 Omaha World Herald article and a 1987 article in Beverage Analyst.
Betty's greatest talent and hobby was her work at home as a seamstress. She made many dresses for the girls as they grew up and even into their adulthood. She handmade all the exquisite First Communion and wedding veils for her daughters and granddaughters. She was also a great cook and it is reported she made excellent cherry pie. Unfortunately because of George’s work schedule many dinners had to be held into the evening as they waited for him to come home.
As anyone will tell you George loved to talk. He could keep a conversation going for hours all by himself.
Betty was a very religious person and took her Catholicism with great sincerity. Anywhere the family would travel the first order of business was to locate the nearest church and get the schedule so they could attend Sunday mass. She also loved chocolate covered peanuts, O-So grape pop and Fritos. She would later work at the Firehouse Dinner Theater after all her girls were adults.
Betty succumbed to Parkinson disease and dementia in the later years of her life. She passed away peacefully at Papillion Manor on June 9th, 2012. She left behind 21 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren with more coming. Her obituary can be read by clicking here. She is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Omaha near her daughter Mary Pat. May God's perpetual light shine on her.
George Riedmann passed away on June 10, 2014 after a severe traffic accident several days before. He left us in the presence of his family at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His service was held at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on June 13, 2014 and he was interred next to his beloved wife Betty and his daughter Mary Pat at Calvary Cemetery. The ceremony was held with military honors by the South Omaha American Legion Post 331 which his father belonged to. His obituary in the Omaha paper can be read here. The Omaha World Herald also had a nice write-up of George a couple days later. Click here to read the article. May he and Betty enjoy eternal companionship.
In Memory of William "Bill" L. Van Moorleghem
Bill, or Will as many called him, was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Irene (Riedmann) and Clem Van Moorleghem on April 4, 1952. He attended St Thomas More Grade School and graduated from Ryan High School in 1970. After high school Bill began the adventure most would never imagine. As young boy he was always wandering, meeting people and experiencing new things. His mom would say he make a five minute walk take an hour with all the detours he took.
Bill was a smart kid and a star athlete in high school and liked by all the girls. In sports things didn't work out the way he would have liked between he and the Ryan coaches and his athletic abilities were never fully revealed. Once out of school he set off westward with a couple of friends, first living the more rugged life in the mountains of Colorado. After a period there he moved to Hawaii on his own then moved back to Colorado to live in the mountains above Boulder. He lived a handmade teepee enjoying the outdoors. Among his other possessions was a goat and books he would buy in Boulder. His family would visit him and be amazed at the way he lived but knew this is what he wanted. His enjoyment of living the rugged life would never leave him.
He eventually moved back to Omaha where he found new purpose in his life through God and became very religious. While he was involved with a religious group he had joined he met Jane Papendick and later married her on Sept. 2, 1978. They had their first son, Joshua in 1980 then moved to Appleton, Wisconsin later that year. The rest of his children, John, Johanna and Luke, were born in Wisconsin. They moved to Hortonville, just outside of Appleton, to live a private piece of land where he could be back close to nature. He and Jane divorced in the late 90's amicably.
When they moved to Appleton Bill started painting houses for a living. While working on one house he met a man who owned a filing systems company. Bill, being the great talker he was, convinced the man to give him a job. After learning about the business Bill started his own small business, Design Office Interiors, selling and installing office furniture. He developed a very loyal clientele. His easy-going nature and calmness proved to be one of his strong points. His customers developed a trust in him knowing that he would take care of them. He owned the business for 17 years.
Bill later claimed some fame when he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. With the popularity of a new television shows "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" Oprah in 2003 created a segment dedicated to finding a bachelor for a senior woman. Trista Rehn, a former contestant on both shows, conducted a search for bachelors to meet her mother Roseanne. She found Bill on match.com along with many other candidates. The list was narrowed down to three with Bill selected by Roseanne as the winner when she handed him a rose on the program. Bill later went out with her, complete with Oprah's film crew. They struck a good friendship but nothing more. It turned out that Roseanne lived in nearby Appleton. Bill and Roseanne stayed in touch over the years.
Bill lived out in the country and loved the outdoors. He owned a home that sat on several acres of forested land. This would be a good thing until a storm blew through in July, 2010. The damage to his property made the local Fox news as the destruction to many of his trees was devastating and would take a long time to clean up. Thankfully a church group stepped in to help with the cleanup.
For the most part Bill lived a private life, never complaining but always willing to smile. He had his hardships in life as much as anyone else. Bill loved to hike and stay in shape. He was known to travel back into the mountains with a backpack and barest of essentials spending the time living off the land. Mother Nature always provided for him. Though raised a Catholic he did not stay a part of the church. But that didn't mean he couldn't find his own belief in God. Religion was important to him in his way and celebrated it in his joy of being outdoors and the way he dealt with others. Oddly enough, as much as Bill stayed in shape and could be said to the fittest of his siblings it was a hidden heart condition that ended his life. While he may have known that something was wrong he never let his family know.
Bill passed away in peace at his home in Hortonville, Wisconsin on August 1, 2013. He was cremated and his ashes were spread at High Cliff State Park in Sherwood, Wisconsin on August 7th. His obituary in the Omaha paper can be read here. A service was held for him at the park pavilion. A second service was held in Omaha at St John Vianney on August 22nd. May he rest in peace.
Epilogue: Bill's son Luke found a manuscript Bill wrote about his life. The timeframe covered are his 18 to 21st years when he left Omaha and moved out west. It was a very tumultous time for him. He provides a very interesting look at his life that most people never knew, including how he was living and what he was thinking during that time. You can download his story by clicking here. Thanks to Luke for typing and editing Bill's manuscript.
In Memory of Shirley Maree (Simpson) Riedmann
(Work In Progress)
Shirley was born in Omaha, Nebraska on January 25, 1931. She grew up on north 30th St. near the Florence waterworks. She had two brothers and two sisters. She attended North High School. Before she was married she and Al Riedmann would go to his sister Irene's house for Sunday dinners. She married Al Riedmann on May 3, 1952. She converted to Catholicism before they were married. After they were married they moved to Des Moines where Al started a pop business. After three years they moved back to Omaha and moved into a new house at 43rd and Marinda.
Shirley loved to crochet and would make afghans for all her children and grandchildren. She learned how to make excellent sauerkraut and dumplings from Al's mother. She also loved dogs. She worked at Borsheims in the gifts department for many years and was loved by all her fellow employees.
Shirley always had a smile for everyone and greeted anyone with warmth and affection. They were blessed with six children, 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren at the time of her death.
Shirley passed away peacefully in her sleep at home in Omaha on July 31, 2015 with her husband Al at her side. Her obituary in the Omaha paper can be read here. A service was held for her at Mary Our Queen on August 3rd. She was cremated on August 7th. Her ashes will be held by the family and buried with her husband's ashes when that day comes. May she rest in peace.
|Updated 8/2015||Webmaster: Chip Riedmann|