Opal Hanley

Funeral services for 98-year old Opal V. (Hess) Hanley of Harrison, NE, are Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at 10:00 AM at the Harrison Bible Church in Harrison with Pastor Matt Parker officiating. 

A committal service will follow at the Harrison Cemetery. 

Opal was born in Chadron, NE, on January 23, 1922 and passed away on September 14, 2020 at the Mitchell Care Center in Mitchell, NE 

A memorial has been established. Donations can be sent to Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337. 

Online condolences can be made at www.chamberlainchapel.com

Opal Viola Hess Hanley was born at the White Star Hotel in Chadron, NE, on January 23, 1923 to Raymond and Elsie Palmer Hess and passed to her Heavenly home on Monday, September 14, 2020.

Her grandmother, Rhoda Hess, was the proprietor of the White Star when she was born, and Opal’s middle name Viola came from her Aunt Mildred Hess, her father’s sister.  

Opal was brought home to Grandmother Rhoda’s ranch, but the family moved to Whitney, NE, when she was about 4 years old. They moved back to Chadron, then returned to the home ranch for good when she was 7.

Opal started her education in Chadron, but after moving to the ranch went to Districts 25, 33 ,29 and 18 before good old Sioux County High School in Harrison. She graduated in 1940 and went on to the Nebraska State Normal School, now Chadron State College.  

While still in school, Opal would work at the Frank Harris Ranch helping Hazel cook for the hired help. One of them in 1938 was Octave Hanley, a nephew of Frank Harris, and they were married 2 years later on November 28, 1940.

Opal and Octave continued to live at the ranch and they were still there when 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, and started teaching at District #57 in February 1943.  

After Octave was honorably discharged from the Army the 31st of October 1945 and return to start a new life as a civilian,  Opal resigned as a teacher at the Wheeler School at the end of the first semester.

The family 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, where they added 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 a section of land they owned to start a home site of their own. Octave moved the old District #43 school house there along with several buildings from Harrison.  

Opal had 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, and after it disbanded years later and she had moved into Harrison she joined the Prairie Circle Project Club. She sold greeting cards for many years for both clubs to help raise money for many of the projects they did in the community.  

She was also a leader of the Log Cabin 4-H Club when her kids were in 4-H and the Chuck Wagon 4-H Club in her 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 displays that are still there today.  

Opal worked at the museum for many years after Octave had passed, cutting stories of area happenings out of several different newspapers and making wonderful scrapbooks for the museum.  

She was a longtime member and officer of the VFW Auxiliary Post #7970 in Harrison as well as at the District and State levels. She volunteers with fellow members from surrounding Posts 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, NE, from the time it was built until health issues kept them from going. Opal was awarded a 30-year Volunteer Plaque in May 2016 for her many 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. 

Opal and Octave moved into Harrison in August 1999 his health deteriorated, and he passed in February 2000. They 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, the Mitchell Care Center, on November 1st, 2016. 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 preceded in death by her husband Octave and son LaVerne, parents Raymond and Elsie Hess, 4 sisters,  Thelma and Wanda who both died in infancy,, Pauline Ellis Loga,r and Patricia Smith, brother Kenneth Hess, 5 brother-in-laws Howard Foster, Raymond (Bud) Ellis, Frank Smith, Jay Hackleman and Henry Logar , son-in-law, Wayne Copp, daughter-in-law, Kitty Hanley Kohler and 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,and 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.

Chamberlain Chapel in Chadron is in charge of arrangements for Opal Hanley.