Gladys Jean Oetken passed away on October 4, 2019 at the Ponderosa Villa in Crawford, Nebraska. She was born March 17, 1931 to Fred and Lottie Oetken. As the ninth of ten children, she learned early to hold her own. Barely age 17 and armed with her Crawford High school home economics textbook she married Earl Soester May 21, 1948. They started small and for a short period rented an apartment above the then Gate City Hotel next to the Corner Bar. Earl farmed during the day and tended bar at night. Embarking on what would be a very successful marriage and business partnership they purchased a place eight miles east of town on Ash Creek. By age 25, she had four children under the age of five. She took a first aid course to patch up the four, volunteered for the school board, cooked meals that were often kept warm for hours on the wood burning stove while Earl worked and generally took on life. In 1962 the family moved to the place north of Crawford where she lived for 57 years. She was known by extended family and friends for her hospitality and could get a delicious meal for a large group on the table on short notice. She understood independence for women before it was in vogue, assuring that her daughters had a title to some land when she and Earl helped their sons get a start in farming and ranching in the 70s. She was a strict disciplinarian with clear boundaries established and not to be crossed but she and Earl managed to raise four equally strong-minded children. Her life emphasized honesty, hard work, fairness and family – with a sprinkling of community service, patriotism and competitive social bowling. She was a long-time member of the Crawford Eagles Club and the American Legion Auxiliary. She will be missed by many. She was preceded in death by all her siblings, her husband Earl and son Earl II. She is survived by her son Alan and her daughters Linda and Kathy, five grandchildren, and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Funeral services for will be held on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 10:00AM at the United Methodist Church in Crawford, Nebraska. Burial will be at the Crawford City Cemetery. A memorial has been established for the Crawford Volunteer Rural Fire Department or the Crawford Rescue Unit. Donations may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron NE 69337.