Lois May McConaughey Wiley was born November 1, 1947 to Joe and Sarah McConaughey. Lois grew up on the family ranch west of Merriman with her older brother Jim. She spent her youth riding horses and helping with every aspect of the ranch. Lois was a gifted horsewoman and a neighbor once said it was good to see her along when working cattle because Joe and Jim were often on a colt but Lois would always be in the right place at the right time. Lois enjoyed rodeoing and was a competitive barrel racer and breakaway roper. She left the ranch briefly to attend a year of business college in Rapid City however found that she was happiest back on the ranch and returned.
On June 14th, 1972 Lois married Don Wiley and they continued ranching on the home place. They were blessed with three children Sonya, Sarah and Jess. Lois was the queen of mothers. She spent countless hours attending field trips, class parties and most especially following the kids to horse shows and rodeos. Lois never knew a stranger and formed lifelong friendships that she treasured forever, many of them starting on the bleachers at a rodeo. Lois was a mom not only to her three children but to many other young people who entered her life. She had a special bond with her nieces and nephew as well as many of her own children’s friends. Lois had a way of listening and loving unconditionally that drew others to her.
Lois had a fierce love of the land that she grew up on. All animals loved Lois and she had a special connection to them. She could spot a sick calf in the pasture before anyone else realized there was a problem. She often said that some of the best times of her life were the many years that she did the night check during calving. With the window down on her jeep so her dog Ginger could supervise and the heater on high so they didn’t freeze, Lois would go back and forth between bunches making sure things were OK. Lois loved a good brand and could spend all day looking through a brand book. She knew the neighbor’s brands and those from miles away. It was important to her that all her grandchildren had brands and she worked to make sure this would happen.
Lois often said her kids made her wait too long to be a grandma. She made up for it by spoiling her 3 grandchildren Brent, Abigail and Julia every chance she could. Their trips to Alco in Gordon and the Fort in North Platte were legendary. The word no wasn’t really in her vocabulary. She treasured all of her time with them, loved to help them celebrate their successes, and was an unwavering support when things didn’t go well for them. Her love for them was endless.
After breaking her hip in January of 2020, she worked tirelessly to rehab with the goal of going back to the ranch she loved. She was able to go home November 7th and celebrated Christmas once again with the ranch house being full. The family will forever be grateful to special friend Brook Cady who spent much of the last month helping Lois at the ranch doing whatever was needed whether that was cooking a meal or helping shop for cowboy snowmen for Christmas.
Lois passed away January 7th, 2021 at Gordon Memorial Hospital surrounded by family. She made a big impact on all that knew her and will be deeply missed.
Survivors are husband of 47 years Donald Wiley of Merriman, daughter Sonya (Philip) Charlton of North Platte, daughter Sarah (David) Russell of Hay Springs and son Jess Wiley of Merriman along with her three grandchildren Brent Charlton and Abigail and Julia Russell. Brother Jim McConaughey along with niece Phyllis (Scott) Lindsey and nephew Mike (CaCee) McConaughey will also mourn her passing. A small family service is planned at this time.
A memorial has been established for Gordon Memorial Hospital or the Pioneer Manor Nursing Home and donations may be sent in care of: Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366, Gordon, NE 69343
The service will be live streamed at Chamberlain Chapel Facebook page.
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