Opal Viola Hess Hanley was born at the White Star Hotel in Chadron Nebraska on January 23, 1923 to Raymond and Elsie Palmer Hess and passed to her Heavenly home on Monday, September 14, 2020. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, September 22nd at 10:00 am at The Harrison Bible Church. Opal’s Grandmother, Rhoda Hess was the proprietor at that time. She was named Viola after her Aunt Mildred Hess, her Father’s Sister. Opal was brought home to her Grandmother Rhoda Hess’ ranch. At About 4 years old they moved to Whitney Nebraska for a time and then back in Chadron. She was 7 when they moved back to the home ranch. She started her education in Chadron and then after moving to the ranch she went to Districts 25, 33 ,29 and 18, then on to good old Sioux County High School in Harrison, Nebraska, where she graduated in 1940, and then on to Normal Training in Chadron.
Opal went to work at the Frank Harris Ranch to help Hazel cook for the hired help. She met Octave Hanley in 1938, who was one of the hired hands she was helping to cook for. They were later married November 28, 1940 and continued to live at the ranch. Frank Harris was Octave’s uncle. Their first Son, Octave LaVerne, was born November 16, 1941.
When LaVerne was about 6 months old they moved to California where Octave went to work at the Rohr Aircraft Plant. They lived there about a year before moving to Florida where he was in basic training. When he got his call from the Army, they moved back to Sioux County so Opal would be closer to family.
Opal took her teachers examination on January 23, 1943, the same day Octave left for the Army. Opal started teaching at District # 57 in February 1943. Octave was honorably discharged from the Army the 31st of October 1945 to start a new life as a civilian. Opal resigned at the end of the first semester at the Wheeler school and they returned to the Harris Ranch where three more children were born, Mary Elaine, Martin DuWayne and Audrey Lorrayn. In October 1957 they moved down the Niobrara River to the Sandoz place just East of the Harris Ranch. They added one more child Loreta Mae to complete their family.
They lived there until May 1974 when they moved a mile and a half North up the gravel canyon to the section of land they owned and Octave moved the old District #43 school house to that property along with several other buildings he moved out of Harrison to start a new home site of their own. Opal started planting trees up on that hillside before they ever moved any buildings up there and hauled water in cream cans to water the trees. Most survived and others were added after they moved there.
Opal was a charter member of the Log Cabin Extension Club started in 1955. In later years after the Log Cabin Club disbanded, she joined the Prairie Circle Project Club when she moved into Harrison. She sold greeting cards for many years for both clubs to help raise money for many of the other projects the clubs did in the community. She was involved as a leader of the Log Cabin 4-H Club when her kids were in 4-H and the Chuck Wagon 4-H Club in later years.
Octave and Opal loved to volunteer for just about anything that needed to have help. They were some of the first charter members of the Sioux County Historical Museum when it was organized in 1974 and helped set up the displays that are still there today. Opal worked at the museum for many years after Octave had passed. She cut stories out of several different newspapers of area happenings and made wonderful scrapbooks for the museum.
She was a longtime member and officer of the VFW Auxiliary Post #7970 in Harrison Nebraska as well as at the District and State levels. Together with fellow members from surrounding Posts they volunteered at the Hot Springs VA Hospital for white socks and bingo parties, with entertainment and refreshments the vets always looked forward to. They volunteered at the Ponderosa Villa Nursing Home in Crawford Nebraska from the time it was built until heath issues kept them from going. Opal was awarded a 30-year Volunteer Plaque in May 2016 for her may years of service.
Opal was a member of the Harrison Bible Church and helped with many different activities throughout the year. Whether it be Vacation Bible School, Rodeo Bible Camp, Ladies Day or a carry in dinner, she was always willing to help however she could. Her baking powder biscuits and Dutch honey were always a hit at the different camps. Opal loved the Lord and her life showed it. She would often joke about she must just be too ornery for Him to take her home but the truth was He just wasn’t finished with her here on Earth quite yet.
They moved into Harrison in August 1999 after Octave’s health deteriorated and he passed in February 2000. Octave and Opal were married for 59 years and their home was always open to others. Whether it be a family member, a friend or a stranger they were always made welcome and had a place to stay and something to eat if needed. Opal continued to live in the house in town but would also go back out to the ranch house during the summers for several days at a time as she still had outside flowers to take care of and trees to water. Opal had two green thumbs and could grow anything. She loved all her indoor plants and would take slips of them to root and later sell at the Ponderosa Villa Bazaar in the fall. She also baked bread, made jelly, and pickles of all kinds for the bazaar and for anyone who might stop in for a visit at her home.
Opal loved Halloween and all the kids that came to her door for treats. When it came time that she could no longer stay in her home and was going to move to the Mitchell Care Center she told the doctor who was dismissing her from the hospital, she had to go home for Halloween first to see her kids and then would go to the care center the next day, to which he agreed.
Opal moved into her last home here on Earth on November 1st 2016 to the Mitchell Care Center. She kept very active with bingo, crafts, physical therapy and her most favorite thing to do was artwork. She colored many of the place mats used in the dining hall and could usually be found there back at the corner table coloring away. She usually attended all of the different church services and especially loved Root Beer float Friday’s when they would have entertainment that played the type of music she grew up listening to in her family home.
Opal was proceeded in death by her Husband Octave and Son LaVerne, Parents Raymond and Elsie Hess, 4 Sisters, 2 who died in infancy Thelma and Wanda Hess, Pauline Ellis Logar and Patricia Smith, 1 brother Kenneth Hess, 5 Brother-in-laws Howard Foster, Raymond (Bud) Ellis, Frank Smith, Jay Hackleman and Henry Logar , 1 Son-in-law, Wayne Copp and 1 Daughter-in-law, Kitty Hanley Kohler and 1 Great Grandson Mark Corbin.
Opal is survived by her Daughter Mary (Maurice) Bell, Son Martin (Lois) Hanley, and Daughters Audrey Holland and Loreta Hanley, 10 Grandchildren, Penny (Glen) Albers, William(Bill) Hanley, Trudy (Kyle) Flaherty, Pat (Tobie) Copp, Raymond (Becky) Hanley, Jenny (Dale) Batt, Rusty (Heidi) Hanley, Tim Hanley, Larissa (David) Robinson, Britney (Adam) Teeple, 8 Great Grandchildren, Jessica (Tony) Schlichlemeier, Jodi (Jeremiah) Holmes, Jesse Young, Corbin Batt, Lilly and Suzy Hanley, 4 Step Great Grandchildren, Jesse McRoberts, Rebecca Dauel, Heather and Michael Hanley, and 6 Great Great Grandchildren, Spencer, Cora and Olivia Schlichlemeier, Ava Robinson, and Bree Teeple, numerous Nieces, Nephews, and friends.
Special thanks to the Mitchell Care Center staff who took care of Mom when we couldn’t any longer and who became friends and family to us. Also special thanks to Sarah with Regional West Hospice. Bless your hearts, she loved all of you.
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