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Norma Jean Wickham, age 88, of Axtell, Nebraska formerly of Arapahoe, Nebraska passed away on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at the Phelps Memorial Hospital in Holdrege, Nebraska. She was born at home south of Holbrook, Nebraska on May 14, 1932 to Frank Colburn and Alma Sophia Louise (Stagemeyer) Paxton. She graduated in 1950 from Holbrook, NE. The next day she went to Portland, Oregon to live with her aunt and uncle but after 3 months became homesick and came home. She rented a room in Arapahoe and worked in the Derby Café as a salad girl and dishwasher. She and a car load of girls went to Holdrege where she got a job at the Brewster Hospital and worked as a tray girl in the kitchen. After a few months she got a job as a clerk in the Hesteds 10 cent Store, then on to the office of Granger Brothers Whole Sale. When Artistic Woven Labels came to Holdrege she became the 5th employee and worked for 30 years as a weaver for 2 years, instructor for 18 years, supervisor for 5 years & during that time for 6 months as personnel director until one was hired, and finally in quality control. She married Harold Dean Verbeck in Holdrege on March 18, 1951 with two children born to this union; DeAnn Kae and Richard Dean. They later divorced in 1974. She would marry Donald William Jones, M.D. in Holdrege 1976, he would pass away on July 14, 1982. For being a person that never cared about traveling that much she had been to Kansas, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, Minn., Canada,, New York, Kentucky, California, Seattle, Wash., Missouri, North Carolina, the Netherlands, Switzerland,, France, England, Austria, Italy, Germany, Vatican City, Liechtenstein, and Pompeii. She would marry Eldon Earl Wickham in Holdrege on August 24, 1983, they made their home in Arapahoe. He would pass away on July 20, 2009. Norma enjoyed working so kept busy volunteering, worked at the Food Pantry in Arapahoe, NE for 12 years, in 2002 joined the Furnas Co. Gen. Soc. where she was treasurer for several years, tried to keep the Holbrook, Arapahoe and Edison Cemeteries books up to date. Typed up the 3 x 5 index cards of obituaries, births and weddings for the Furnas County Genealogical Society of Beaver City, Oxford, Edison, Arapahoe, and Holbrook. NE. In 2014 she began volunteering for the Phelps County Food Pantry in Holdrege, NE She had made 371 teddy bears which she sold or gave as gifts. She never advertised, yet people in California, Portland, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Hawaii, North Dakota, Kansas City, have her bears. When Norma turned 80 her daughter wanted her to live closer to her so she bought her son’s house in Axtell, NE when they moved to Omaha May 20, 2012. She is preceded in death by her parents and her husband’s Eldon Wickham & Donald Jones, MD. She is survived by her children: DeAnn Kae (Tom) Nickel of Kearney, Nebraska and Richard Dean (Lynette) Verbeck of Omaha, Nebraska, four grandsons; Scott Thomas (Janah) Nickel and Daniel Joseph (Tena) Nickel both of Kearney, Nebraska, Chad Michael (Shannon) and Travis Dean Verbeck (Kyle Rotert) both of Omaha, Nebraska, five great-grandchildren; Scarlett and Serena, Claire Lyn, Mason Cain and Hendrix all of Kearney, and Ezra and Eloise of Omaha, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Viewing and visitation will be Friday, February 19, 2021 from 4 PM till 6 PM at Wenburg Funeral Chapel, 652 Main St., Arapahoe, Nebraska. Private Family Funeral services will be at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Arapahoe, Nebraska with Rev. Richard Moon, officiating. Interment will follow at the Arapahoe Cemetery, Arapahoe, Nebraska. Wenburg Funeral Home of Arapahoe, Nebraska is in charge of the arrangements. Condolences and personal reflections may be left at wenburgfuneralhome.com
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