Let’s talk about our mom. Helen (Rhea) Ostmeyer died on November 23, 2022. She was 101 years old and left a legacy of love and kindness behind her. She was born to John and Clara Rhea in rural Saline County and moved to Northwest Kansas in the early 1930’s. She told many stories of living through the dust storms in those years and how her family and others survived. She had one older brother and four younger sisters. Helen graduated from Oakley High School in 1938 and attended business school in Salina during the war years. Mom would tell us stories about the USO dances and one dance in particular where she wore a red dress and danced every dance! Mom had very fond memories of that red dress. She married James Ostmeyer on May 11, 1947. They had two sons (Dennis and John – now deceased) and three daughters (Jane, Sue, and Rita). Mom told the story of how after her fifth child she heard a family member coming to visit her in the maternity ward saying, “another red head”, Yes, we all got our father’s hair color! Mom’s final and probably favorite job was working for the City of Oakley as a billing clerk. She always said she had the best co-workers, and it was so nice to be able to interact with the people of Oakley. Mom just enjoyed people.
Once Mom retired, she and dad traveled. By that time, they had family members scattered all across the United States. They would winter in Tucson to be near their son and travel to Colorado and Ohio to be with their other children. They would take a cruise out of Florida to the Bahamas and see Niagara Falls in New York and Phantom of the Opera in Toronto. Dad died in 1995 and Mom continued traveling with her family. Branson and Las Vegas were favorite locations. For her 90th birthday her family met in Las Vegas and celebrated with her. She wore a “beauty queen sash” that read “birthday girl” and was thrilled when throughout the day complete strangers would come up and wish her a happy birthday and marvel that she did not look her age. She never got too old to hear that!
Mom was addicted to coffee and liked it black and hot. She started every day with it. She taught herself to crochet and created many beautiful table doilies and doll clothes. She even learned how to quilt and had a quilting rack built in her basement where she and her sister, Mildred Gilkerson, would create beautiful bedspreads and wall hangings. In her nineties she wanted to learn how to play the piano better and started piano lessons. Mom was always open to learning new things. A favorite pastime of Mom's was playing cards. She enjoyed playing cards out at the Country Club and always packed a deck of cards in her suitcase so whoever she visited, card playing was on the agenda. Our Mom was a wonderful human being. There was an innate kindness to her. She will be sadly missed by her son and daughters, her eight grandchildren, and her ten great-grandchildren. Her favorite saying was "I love you a bushel and a peck" and that feeling was returned to her a million-fold.
Visitation will take place from 9:30- 10:30 a.m., with a memorial service at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, December 3, 2022, at Baalmann Mortuary, Oakley. Burial will take place in St. Joseph Cemetery Oakley. Memorials may be made to St. Joseph Church or Logan County Hospital and sent in care of Baalmann Mortuary, PO Box 391, Colby, KS 67701. For information or condolences visit www.baalmannmortuary.com