April 16, 1918 — February 8, 2018
Veda Nadine McKee passed away while surrounded by loved ones at Good Samaritan Hospital on February 8, 2018, just shy of her 100th birthday.
In her lifetime, she would see the world change in ways that seem hard for most to imagine. On the day of her birth, the United States was still fighting in the First World War and humans had only just managed powered flight 15 years before. A few days before she passed, a private citizen launched a car into space on a rocket. A hundred years has a lot to offer.
Veda was born April 16, 1918, in Highfill, Arkansas. She was a child through the roaring '20s, growing up for a time on a farm in Arkansas with her sister Olive and parents, who farmed tobacco, hay and strawberries. Although tractors were just coming into usage across the country, Veda’s family never had that sort of money. They farmed with a plow pulled by mules and harvested through the sort of hard work she would live her life by and someday instill in her family.
Later, the family moved to California, traveling with other family members in a caravan to a farm in Placentia, California, where her father would find work and where she would live until she married. She was asked once how the crash of 1929 impacted her family and she simply shrugged. “We never had enough money to put in a bank and dad had work, so we never noticed.” While living in Placentia, California, her two younger twin siblings, Floy and Lloyd, were born in 1925.
She would marry Leavitt Leo Joseph Daley on September 27, 1938, and by the time she was 23, they had a new baby and a house of their own.
It was at this house, while building a rock wall in her front yard that a neighbor rushed over and told her the Japanese had attacked and the United States was at war. During that time frame, she wanted to do her part and went to work for the defense industry in the tool room at the Long Beach shipyard. Much later, she took a job working for the Norwalk La Mirada School District where she worked until she retired.
After her first husband passed away in 1965, after 27 years of marriage, she would find love a second time and marry Earon “Mac” McKee on August 13, 1966. It was a marriage that would last 53 years and true to his promise to stay with her in sickness and in health, Mac was to hold her hand when she went to meet her Lord and Savior. Their faith in God and in each other never wavered.
Veda loved to cook and bake and her culinary skills were admired far and wide. She baked more pies for any family gathering than could be eaten by an army. And family members always knew they could invite guests for dinner because there was always enough food to feed another family or two.
Veda was a skilled quilter, seamstress, and knitter, creating many beautiful family heirlooms. Throughout her life she loved plants and gardening, and found great joy in the beauty of the flowers in her yard.
The picture her family chose to use is of Veda’s high school graduation. She is only 18 and has a full life of love and adventure ahead of her, and it is this energy and optimism that best reflects the person she was all the years of her life.
Scottish poet Thomas Campbell wrote, “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” If that is true, then Veda’s life will continue in her loving husband Mac; her daughters Kathy Powell (Tom), and Carol Neelands, of Albany; her grandchildren Tom Powell (Heidi) of Corvallis, Jennifer Powell of San Antonio, Texas, Joseph Neelands (Barbara) of Philomath, and Todd Neelands (Tracy) of Tigard; many great-grandchildren; her sister Floy Brady of Las Vegas and the many friends she touched over almost 100 years.
A memorial service and celebration of her 100th birthday will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Regency Park Place, 2695 NE Jack London St., Corvallis.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in her name to Heartland Humane Society, Corvallis, Oregon. (www.demossdurdan.com)