tractor, field, agriculture

Velda Jean is a woman in motion.

“If there’s something going on, I want to be in the middle of it. If I can’t do it, I want to at least see it!”

From humble beginnings on her parents’ Nebraska farm to raising her own seven children and traveling the world, Velda has remained true to her ideals: never be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life, and raise a good family. By all accounts she has done both well.

Early Life

Velda arrived in this world on November 24, 1936, the youngest girl born to Edward Walter K and Eva Ruth (Reed) K. She shared a birthday with her sister Lola, who was only one year older. Their elder siblings, Joyce (born 11/27/30) and Lyle (born 2/14/31) were both born on holidays (Thanksgiving Day and Valentine’s Day, respectively.) Two other siblings, Wendell Wayne and Wayne Allen, did not survive infancy. Velda has distinct memories of the death of Wayne Allen, who only lived for a few hours:

“That was so hard. I think I was 8 and couldn’t wait to have a little baby. It was terrible hard on them. Mom didn’t get out of the hospital for the funeral even. She was in pretty bad shape when he was born because he was so big. I remember Daddy carrying that little casket out of the house and into the car to go to the cemetery. I could cry now. I still remember that. He had it in the car with us kids and took it to the cemetery. I can still see that little baby. He had white rompers on in that casket. I can still see it and that was 70-some years ago.”

She discovered that her mother had saved Wayne Allen’s baby announcements, uncovering them in a trunk many years later.

Velda has many vivid memories of her childhood. Their home burned down and was replaced when she was a toddler. Although the new home (pre-built and moved onto their lot) was a spacious four-bedroom model it didn’t have indoor plumbing or electricity until Velda was in high school. She remembers carrying in water and coal for heating, recalling that her parents would let the stove go out during the night because they couldn’t afford the coal to keep it going. And the outhouse –“ you know how cold that is when it’s 30 below?!” Living on a farm came with other responsibilities as well, including milking cows, feeding chickens, and gathering eggs.

“I never liked gathering eggs because the chickens always pecked at you. When we gathered eggs, we had 2 buckets – one for good eggs, one for cracked eggs. Once Mom had enough cracked eggs, she’d make angel food cake. Best part on the farm was when we lambed and went out and did the sheep chores.”

Threshing was an annual event that involved the entire household. After the grain was reaped (cut down) it would be separated from the straw. According to Velda, local farmers would band together to work one another’s fields as the threshing equipment moved from farm to farm.

“There was one guy who owned the thresher, so 10-12 guys would go in together and work the fields. Loaded it by hand and unloaded it by hand; farmers really had to work hard. At threshing time, we had to cook on a wood stove. Day before would make pies and bread. Morning of threshing, we’d kill a chicken and put it in cold water so we could fry it. Had fried chicken, potatoes, bread, and pies. Had two crocks wrapped in gunny sacks and it was my job to take water out to the guys morning and afternoon.”

“Daddy done everything with a horse and buggy. He’d have to pitch the hay in the hay rack and then take it home and pitch it off. Daddy would pull the binder and Mom would ride on it. The bundles went on the rack. When you got 6 or 8, you’d trip it and dump them. Then there was a guy who’d shock them.”

Farm life was strenuous, but not without its merits.

“I was always the outdoor girl. Lola must have cooked because I don’t remember her being outside as much. When I was 14, Mom and Joyce went to the Hills convention and I had to stay home and cook for the well drillers. You didn’t call them; they came in exactly at noon. To this day, I can still put a meal on right at noon.”

“What I always liked was in the spring of the year, there was water standing and I loved to hear those horses’ hooves going through it. I would stand at the front of the hay rack with Daddy and just watch those feet go through that water. I got to ride a horse every day out to get cows in the summer. I also loved it in the spring when Mom would get her baby chicks.”

Other tasks were not quite as pleasurable.

“I remember going out and picking up cow pies. Any time a sheep would die, us kids went out and pulled the wool off. Nothing was wasted. We had to wait until the sheep was bloated and green and smelly and then the wool would pull right off. We’d take a gunny sack out and pull it off then Daddy would turn it over so the next day we could do the other side.”

Rural living required a bit of ingenuity.

“We always had homemade bread. We didn’t have a refrigerator. We would put the morning’s milk in the water tank or down the well pit to keep it cool. We would sit out on the front porch and turn that crank to make butter. I just knew it took all day. Daddy never took water out to the fields to drink – he just drank from the slough. We always had meat, potatoes, and vegetables for meals. Folks didn’t buy anything except flour and crackers.”

Chores were simply part and parcel of farm life.

“We didn’t hate chores. It was just something you done. In those days, you didn’t have to discipline. When Daddy said something, we did it. I remember a couple times when Mom would scold me but when they told us to do something, we listened.”

Velda recalls her parents warmly, but notes that it was a different time, and family relationships were not as open as they are today. Both her parents were of stoic German and Dutch/German descent, and even for the baby of the family, affection was not freely displayed.

“I don’t remember ever sitting on Daddy or Mom’s lap. I don’t ever remember them arguing. Years ago, when they disagreed, they done it when the kids weren’t around. I remember one argument – Daddy called Mom a name, but that’s the only one I ever remember. Years ago, you didn’t really show your emotions, you know.”

“Between ‘em, I think they had a good solid marriage. Mom loved dances. I have to give Daddy credit – the first couple years they was married, he’d stay home on Saturday night and tell Mom she could go to a dance and he’d stay home with the kids. I remember her saying that Daddy let her go quite a bit.”

Becoming wistful, she recalled her father’s silent generosity:

“We all sat at the table and Daddy always gave thanks. He’d just kind of sit there while us kids and Mom ate. Then he’d finish what was on the table. He made sure we ate first.”


Today’s school calendar still reflects its roots in America’s farming traditions, with summers off for working the fields. Velda and her siblings walked a mile to school, rain or shine. School began at nine, after the morning chores were finished. During her elementary school years, there were only two families attending – about eight children in all. Later a third family, the Farneys, moved in, and the K kids hitched a ride to school in their horse and buggy – luxury!

As with many rural communities, it was customary for the teacher to live with her students families. Instead of feeling crowded, Velda remembers feeling privileged because she got to share a bed with her sisters, snuggling between Joyce and Lola on cold winter nights. A few fond memories:

“When we went to school, we walked a mile. Didn’t matter how cold it was. We carried a gallon bucket with our lunch in it. In the winter we’d take a potato and when we got to school, we laid it on the register. No potatoes tasted like those potatoes. At noon that was a baked potato – no butter or nothing, but boy it was good.”

“During winter time we got to go ice skating at recess!”

“Math was my best subject – and spelling. I didn’t like history.”

With the completion of eighth grade, Velda moved on to Faulkton High School. That was an informative experience, as the town kids and country kids mixed together for the first time. Velda observed that the country kids, including herself, were more reserved in comparison to the “wild” town kids. Prior to high school, Velda rarely contemplated her appearance, but soon discovered that it was very important.

“Saddle shoes and long skirts were popular; we had to kneel on the ground and we’d get sent home if our skirt was too short.”

“I was bashful. My classmates thought I was so pretty. I always felt shy and awkward, but I guess other people didn’t see me like that.”

One young man in particular did not see 16-year-old Velda as shy and awkward. Darrell Leroy B first spotted Velda at a barn-raising and was instantly smitten. Like the K’s, the B’s were also farmers. Velda thought that Darrell, of Polish ancestry, was very handsome, with jet black hair and deep brown eyes. Darrell didn’t attend high school – in those days the law mandated schooling through 8th grade or the age of 16. For a farm boy, additional schooling was considered a waste of time.

Thus began an unconventional courtship. Since they couldn’t see one another regularly, Darrell wrote letters to Velda. One of her daily chores was to ride the horse out to the road to collect the contents of the mailbox, so Velda was able to keep the correspondence secret. As the letters began increasing in frequency Velda rented a mailbox in town. It wasn’t until she was a high school senior that her Daddy discovered their romance.

“I was in love. He was very good lookin’. He was born in 1935 in May so he’s just a little over a year older than me. I was 19 and he was 20 when we got married. My folks didn’t like him at first – wouldn’t let me go with him. Then once we got married, I think he was one of their favorites. Darrell and my dad got along real good. After we got married, we’d go to the folks every Sunday for dinner. They’d talk by the hour. Daddy told Darrell a lot of things he didn’t tell other people.”

Married with Children

Although she married young, Velda already had a plan for her life. She knew that her role was to be a wife and mother, and she welcomed it.

“Didn’t think about how life would turn out – just thought I’d get married and raise kids. That’s just what you do.”

Darrell was a take-charge kind of person, and he made it clear from the beginning of their relationship that he was in command.

“He didn’t really ask me to marry him. Just like our trips, you know, when he decided we were going to do something, we just did it. I think it was April when he said, “We’ll get married in June.” OK, I guess we’ll get married in June. He did let me pick what day. I picked the 21st because of my period. Went to the courthouse and got married. We went to Aberdeen and spent one night there and went home the next day and went out pitching manure. The honeymoon was over. Time to get to work now!”

Darrell’s father passed away the following September, and his mother decided to go to work in town. Darrell and Velda took the opportunity to purchase his family’s farm in preparation for beginning their own family. Velda loved the house because it had indoor plumbing. It was a good place to raise kids.

The newly minted B clan grew by leaps and bounds, adding a baby girl each year for four years. Debra Lee was the first child, born in June close to her parents’ first wedding anniversary. She was followed a year later by Lorna Lee in October, Wanda Lee the next year in October then finally Tamra Lee the following year in January. All the girls were given five letter names ending with the letter “A” and Velda chose the middle name “Lee” to honor her husband’s middle name of Leroy. Regarding the size of her family Velda says:

“Didn’t matter if I had girls or boys. Had 4 kids and thought we were done, then decided we wanted more. Debbie was only 3 when Tam came home from the hospital – 3, 2, 1, and newborn. I raised them out on the tractor.”

“You know, I had those 4 little kids and I didn’t think it was any work at all. The kids were so close that I don’t remember them fighting until Debbie started school. Then she knew more than they did.”

The B’s were happy with their gaggle of little girls in matching outfits (“Makes ‘em easier to spot in a crowd!”) but by the time Tam was eight, Velda was longing for a baby, and Twyla Lee made her appearance. She was followed in subsequent years by two brothers, Kelly Lee and Kerry Lee, both named by their father.

“I wanted more babies! I love babies. I love ‘em all ages, but a tiny baby – there’s nothing like it.”

Birthing seven children is a lot of work, but Velda was so happy to be a mother that she took it in stride. Both sets of grandparents lived nearby, and Velda’s mother would watch the older children when the next baby was due, but that was the extent of child-rearing help. She and Darrell would pick up the girls on the way home from the hospital – there were no days off.

“The day after I got home with Kelly, I was out helping sort cattle. Nowadays these younger ones are wimps – boys or girls. They’re wimps.”

All of the B children were born in the hospital, all without incident – except for one.

“I almost died. Tam was big, and when she was born it pinched one of the main blood vessels. Back then they used to give you ether. Darrell had already went home because everything was fine. Couple-three hours, I started to vomit from the ether. When I started to vomit, I can still remember, it was just solid blood. Everything was blood. So they took me down to see what was wrong and I had such pain, it was hurting so bad. When they went to give me ether, I thought, ‘Oh boy, just breathe in’ and so I did and held my breath.”

“I can still remember the nurse slapping me, saying, Velda, Velda, Velda! Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe! And bing bing bing – I must have been short of oxygen. That’s all I could hear – pounding. She was slapping me hard – Velda! Velda! And I just thought, ‘What’s he going to do with all those girls?’ And then I started to breathe, but that’s how close I come to not making it.”

“That nurse was scared. I mean she was slapping me. I knew I was short of oxygen because I could hear that pounding in my head. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with me.” [laughs]

“Those days they kept us in the hospital for 5 days. Rhyllis (her sister-in-law, brother Lyle’s wife) came in and gave birth to Darwin, so we were in the hospital a couple days together. Darwin has always been extra special to me and I suppose that’s why.”

Parenting came easy to Velda. It was her passion, but it was also her profession. Like a general marshalling her troops, Velda kept the household organized, and employed the older kids to train the younger ones. She expected difficulties and was prepared to handle them, which kept her from being overwhelmed, even with seven kids. Her confidence is impressive:

“Never had a baby that cried. I think a lot of times when babies are fussy, the mothers might be nervous or something. It didn’t matter where they was at, they would go to sleep. I was never upset because I was pregnant. I was never upset about anything. That’s just how it was.”

“Once they get a year old, that’s when you really gotta start watching them. Under that, you put ‘em someplace and you know where they’re at. And I never had a fussy baby. It didn’t matter where we was at, they were content to sleep. If we were visiting somebody and wanted to play cards, I could just lay them on the floor so they wouldn’t roll off and they’d go to sleep.”

Even with remarkable parenting skills, life was a test of endurance. On a farm, the daily pace is relentless and the list of chores is never-ending. Velda once remarked that if she could do one thing differently she would have worked less and spent more time with the kids.

“To take four little kids out in the tractor, that’s dumb. But when you have to, you have to. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t. I just done what I was told. By the end of the day, can you imagine how dirty they were? When I got home, I’d put them in the tub while I made supper. Then I’d wash clothes, go hang them out, bring in the ones from the night before.”

Making supper was no easy task either. Most of the ingredients came from the farm.

“Always had meat, potatoes, vegetables. I always mashed the potatoes because the kids liked them that way. Had our own beef, chicken, pork. Cleaned 250 chickens every year. In the fall we’d freeze corn. Canned beans, carrots, tomatoes, and over 200 quarts of pickles. Canned a lot of meat too – beef and chicken. Nothing like it! Canned chicken and then have chicken and dumplings. Clean it and put it in a jar tight and ½ tsp salt and some water and cook it for 5 hours under boiling water. Then you’d take it out and hear the lids pop, pop, pop. Could eat it cold, or cook it and use the juice for gravy.”

One of the perks of a seasonal business such as farming is the free time in the off-season. Darrell and Velda loved to travel, and they made a point of carting their tribe all over North America during the winter months. They visited New Orleans, California, Texas, Florida, the East Coast, and even detoured into Canada. Traveling with so many kids required a firm grip on the budget.

“Kerry was only two when we were gone for five weeks. Took the middle seat out and folded it down. The four girls sat in the back seat and the three little ones played in the middle. Would eat breakfast at the motel and ate sandwich meat, fruit, etc. on the road and then ate supper out. We could go 60-70 miles while they were eating. We ate a lot of apples and it seemed like I was always peeling oranges.”

On that same trip Kerry split his lip at Busch Gardens and had to go to the hospital for stitches. The doctor was amazed by his stoicism, saying, “Are you sure he’s okay? He doesn’t even cry!” With a giggle Velda recalls more funny stories about the kids:

”The three littlest kids wanted to jump out the door of the hay mow. Twyla and Kelly made Kerry go first and thought if he didn’t die, they would do it too. He came in the house and said, “I thought my head flewed off!”

“I found Tam cutting out pictures from a brand new set of Childcraft books. We had just got them and could barely afford it. She just couldn’t believe no one else had gotten to all those beautiful pictures yet!”

“One time, I went looking for the boys. They were out behind the old granary. Just as I came around, Kelly threw a match into some gas. It exploded as I rounded the corner and said, “BOYS! What are you doing??” Kelly said, “We were cold.”

It was a hard life, but a good one – most of the time.

“I remember many a night going to bed at midnight and getting up at 3 or 4. Had to take lunch and snacks out. Darrell thought I should be out in the field by 8. Couldn’t come home until 8.

“I thought I was happy. I mean, I was – I had the kids.”

The kids were both a blessing and a distraction. Velda soon learned that her handsome black-haired husband had a short fuse.

“I found out pretty early that he had an awful temper. When someone has a temper, you just try to keep your mouth shut. When I knew I was right and tried to say so, it wasn’t a pretty sight. You learn to keep your mouth shut.”

“I think that’s the main thing with men is the control. If you’re not gonna let ‘em control you, they get all bent out of shape.”

Like a mama bear protecting her cubs, she did her best to shield them from his rages.

“I always tried not to let Darrell know if the kids done something wrong. He was harder on Kelly than any of them. He was even abusive. He always said he wanted 6 girls so maybe he was mad because of that. Kelly was probably a freshman in high school and he said something that Darrell took wrong. Did he ever lay into him – hit him and kicked him. Kelly went out to the barn and after about fifteen minutes, I went out to check on him. I was worried. He was up in the hay mow bawling, and I said, “Honey, I’m sorry. Just try to get over it. I know how you feel. You was right.” I went in the house and told Darrell that Kelly had been right, but he would never say I’m sorry. He just had it in his head that when Kelly opened his mouth, he was going to be wrong.”

The relationship continued to degrade as the kids grew up and left home to begin their lives. Eventually the pair separated, and Darrell grew vengeful and bitter at what he viewed as Velda’s betrayal. He began circulating rumors about her, saying she’d had affairs with a number of men. He even approached the sheriff and the town’s doctor about signing a statement that she was insane so he could have her committed.

“I know people heard all kinds of stories about me. But I just made up my mind I know what I’m doing and if anyone wants to believe it, that’s their problem, not mine.”

According to Velda, the kids were all scared of him, and his behavior became more erratic. He would refuse to answer the door when they came to visit. The house burned down while he was living there, but instead of rebuilding, he lived in his shop for more than a year, sleeping in his pickup with an electric heater for warmth.

“The year Darrell and I were getting a divorce was the most difficult time of my life. Didn’t matter what he did to me. Hurt me what he done to our kids, shutting out everyone but Wanda. Kids rallied around me. That’s what got me through. He turned on all of them.”

She knew the marriage was doomed when she listened in on a phone call between Darrell and Debbie. Debbie asked if there was a chance her parents would get back together. Darrell’s terse reply signaled the end. “I’m never going to sit across the table from that son-of-a-bitch again.”

Still, Velda felt compelled to carry on her duties as she had always done.

“I still went over to the farm and cooked and everything. Took him supper out to the combine once. He sat there and ate it. Then we got in an argument and he hit me. A few days later, I got something in my eye and had to go to the doctor. He saw the bruise and asked if Darrell hit me. I said no. He said, “Velda, when are you going to admit it and get a divorce?”

Velda spent two weeks in a shelter while the divorce was finalized. She stayed away from Darrell, fearing for her safety.

“I wouldn’t get in the car with him because he would have run me in the river.”

True to his controlling nature, Darrell tried to prevent Velda from receiving her share of their assets. He tried to claim bankruptcy, but since Velda had always managed the household finances she didn’t fall for his ruse. Still, she was forced to go to court every month to get $1000 to live on, while Darrell controlled the money. Eventually the judge instructed him to sell the assets and split the money with Velda.

She knew that his stingy nature would not allow him to give up, so she cleverly gave each child $20,000 to hold for safekeeping, with the understanding that if she ever needed it back it would be available. That proved to be a wise move.

“When I got my divorce, I got a trailer and my car. That’s when I gave them the money. Darrell hired an attorney to see where I put my money. They couldn’t find it so he told everyone I lost it all.”

“Everybody was surprised when we got divorced because they thought we had a perfect marriage and I did too. Thought it was just natural how things were.”

As a final thought on that subject, Velda mused that she was glad that her parents had passed before the divorce, because she believes it would have broken their hearts.

Finding Happiness

After the divorce Velda spent a number of years relaxing and traveling to visit her kids and grandkids. She had FUN – riding a Harley, tubing down a river. She tried all kinds of things she’d never done before.

And then she met William F; a meeting that changed her life in a beautiful way.

“This assisted living needed help, I knew the gal who ran it. Didn’t even interview, just started working. First night I was there, I went into Bill’s room and we got to talking. He sounded like a very nice guy. Every day I was in there, we’d talk. Then it got so after work, I’d go in and we’d talk some more. Talked about farming and religion. Then his daughter and his brother were there and they were so nice. They kind of pushed us together. I only worked there six months – guess I was supposed to work there.”

Their relationship deepened, and love blossomed. Both realized that although they had loved before (Bill’s wife Lorraine had passed) there was plenty more love to go around, and there was no reason not to be together. “But people will talk!” she protested to Kelly. “People will talk if you do, and they’ll talk if you don’t!” he responded. After spending eight days in the hospital with Bill (undergoing heart surgery), Velda brought him home to her house and they decided to wed in June.

“It’s altogether different than when you’re younger. We talked about our past lives. When you get married at that age, it’s about companionship. That’s what I miss – it’s that empty chair at night. I don’t mind the daytime, I don’t mind going to bed alone – but I don’t like that empty chair at night. I’d look over there and he’d be sleeping a lot, but he was there. Your second marriage at that age, it’s altogether different. It’s more – maybe satisfying. Peaceful. It’s just companionship.”

“When you’re younger, you’ve got kids and finances and we had none of those worries. All we had to worry about was where we was gonna go next.”

Bill was extremely kind, and tried hard to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Velda laughingly recalls the only “argument” they ever had. They were coming home from a family visit and she was driving. Momentarily confused, she turned the wrong direction on the interstate. She was upset with herself for making the mistake, so Bill tried to soothe her feelings by saying, “It’s not your fault.” Frustrated, Velda replied, “Bill, I’m driving and I’m going the WRONG WAY! Of course it’s my fault!” She tried to drop it, but he wouldn’t give up, continuing to offer reassurance because he didn’t want her to feel bad.

Although Bill loved Velda’s family with his whole heart, he was troubled by his relationships with a couple of his own children. He discovered that a married son was having an affair and disowned him. It just wasn’t in him to accept that behavior. He had a falling out with one of his daughters, and they didn’t speak for the last two decades of his life. Bill’s son, Glen, and Glen’s wife, Marcy, were the only ones who remained close with him.

More than anything else, Bill never failed to express his love and appreciation for Velda.

“About two months before he died, he said come and sit down. He said, I want you to know, I never forgot Lorraine, but I want you to know that these are the happiest years of my life.”

“I’ll tell you what he really enjoyed. We’d get up in the morning and I’d help him get his leg on and he’d start getting dressed. Then he’d go in and shave in the bathroom. Then I’d get dressed and make the bed and come in to comb my hair. One day I said to him, do you need a new razor? He said, why? I said, you take so long to shave. He said, I like to watch you comb your hair.”

Thoughts about Life

Velda has witnessed a lot of changes in the world during her lifetime. She feels particularly encouraged by the expressions of love she sees in her family.

“I was close to my folks, I loved them dearly. But it wasn’t like now where we hug each other. I don’t remember Mom or Daddy ever saying ‘I love you’ like nowadays we do. I don’t remember Mom and Dad ever hugging me. Years ago you didn’t show affection. They didn’t show affection like they do now, but they didn’t fight like they do now either. I never thought of it that way before. It just was different.”

“Don’t be so busy making a living that you don’t have a life. I think you need to take time to be with your family. Especially farmers, they have to put in long hours. You need to enjoy your family and do things with them. Play with your kids. Don’t just work with them, play with them. When they’re little, get down on the floor and play with them. I like to see dads playing with their infants. You see it more now.”

She observes the many differences between her childhood, her children, and her grandchildren.

“When we’d have company, you’d sit in the room and wouldn’t say one word. You were just happy you had company. If they had kids, we’d be outside playing. It wasn’t that they told us to be quiet, that’s just how it was. Now if a little kid comes in the room, you talk to them. Years ago, they didn’t do that.”

“First time I went to a ballgame was to watch my grandson Reed; I wasn’t allowed to do that stuff as a kid.”

“In the winter we played checkers a lot. It was the only game we had. As far as toys, I had a doll. Lola had a doll. Lyle had an airplane. I don’t know if Joyce had anything.”

“I remember when it rained or in the winter time, Mom would let me get the clothespins out. I’d stand ‘em up and have fences and imaginary cattle in them. That was so fun when I got the clothespins out. I’d make corrals. I didn’t have real toy cattle, but in my mind, I could see ‘em in there.”

“When I had kids, they had so much fun with a shoebox and magazines. We didn’t even have shoeboxes when I was a kid, and our magazines went out in the outhouse!”

She cherished the relationships with her siblings.

“When we’re busy raising families, we still love ‘em but we don’t have time. Then when you have more time, you do. Lola and I talk at least once a week. You’re close then you draw away when you got your kids. Once your kids leave, you got more time and kind of come back.”

And remembers her father’s favorite poem:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done

      But he with a chuckle replied

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one

      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

      On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

When asked to describe herself, Velda becomes flustered. She doesn’t want to appear conceited by saying kind words about herself. After a little gentle prodding, she responds:

“Loving, kind, fair, fun to be with, I hope I’m not crabby, jolly! Caring, honest, loyal. And I sure love my family!”

“I like to help others. When I was working taking care of the elderly, I really enjoyed that.”

“I think that I enjoy life. I like to do stuff with the kids and not just sit around and talk and knit. I want to be doing something.”

Velda had an immediate and enthusiastic response to one final question: What do you think your purpose in life has been?

“To raise a good family, and I think I done pretty good. My kids have all done good and they’re all honest. None of them on drugs or been in trouble with the law. I think I raised some pretty good kids. Honest, hardworking. They better be or I’ll be after ‘em!”