Funeral Services will be 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, 2021, at Family Life Assembly Church, Milford. Visitation is Monday from 2-8:00 p.m. at Lauber Funeral Home, Milford and 1 hour prior to services on Tuesday at church. Interment is in Pleasant View Cemetery, Rural Milford. Memorials have been established to the Convoy of Hope. Pallbearers are: Jeremy Neal, Josiah Miller, Leo Stamer, Mitch Mendyk, Sam Bailor and Becca Miller.
Grace Viola Ackerman was born on July 13, 1919, in a farmhouse in Custer County, Nebraska and slipped away peacefully into her Savior’s arms in the early morning of Thursday, May 20, 2021, at her home near Milford. Her grandmother, Susan Casteel, a mother of 13 children herself, was present for Grace’s birth to Wanda and Orval McEwen. Grace was a little “Sissy” to Eugene “Buddy” McEwen and the two of them had many adventures and put in long hours of hard work while growing up on the family farm. Chickens, sheep, hogs, cattle and horses were both playmates, and the cause of the work. Grace was her father’s driver of choice when it came to stacking hay with the team of horses.
Grace attended Mt. Custer Country School through the 8th grade and then began working as a lady’s helper for community women after the birth of new babies. In 1937, Grace headed to Waxahachie, Oklahoma to attend Southwestern Bible College and graduated in 1939. After her return to Nebraska, her brother was called into service as an airplane mechanic during World War II and her father needed help with the farm and ranching operation. She returned home and became “Gracie the Cowgirl” for the remainder of the war years with assistance of a black cutting horse named, “Dime” and a couple of trusty farm dogs, “Spotty and Pal”. For the rest of her life, Grace loved to tell interesting stories about her days on the farm.
When Bud returned after the war, Grace moved to San Francisco with two of her good friends, where she worked for the telephone company. During their free time they enjoyed exploring the city and the surrounding area. Homesickness set in however, and after two years she returned to Nebraska and attended a business school in Omaha. From there, she moved to Loup City, Nebraska to work in the doctor’s office as a receptionist and bookkeeper for several years. Grace purchased a spiffy blue Plymouth coupe, and she was able to go home on the weekends to visit her family on the farm-it was only a forty-mile drive over dirt roads, which often turned to mud roads.
A new job for Consumer’s Public Power took her to Kearney and it was during this time that Walter Ackerman to Milford came to call on her. Walter’s cousin, Bonnibel Roll, played matchmaker for the couple when Walter was left with a family to raise after his wife’s death. It took some convincing, but Grace agreed to become Walter’s wife and mother to his children: Dale, Glen, Janice and Beverly and it was a decision she never regretted. She was well prepared for the job of a busy farm wife, gardening and canning, sewing clothes for the girls and keeping books for the farm operation. It was not long before a new arrival, Ann, joined and completed the family.
Grace and Walter had many happy years on Ackerman Acres and as the kids grew and left home to form their own families. Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings brought them all back home. The house would be filled with wonderful aromas and bursting with grandchildren. Grace was an amazing and particular cook and her baby dill pickles, strawberry jam, homemade rolls, creamed corn, chicken and noodles, doughnuts and pies are fondly remembered. She also cooked many Sunday dinners for members of her church family.
After Walter’s death in 1996, Grace moved into Milford and she often entertained Ann’s children, who lived just down the street and made special snacks for them. When Verlin and Ann moved to an acreage they invited Grace to come live with their family. She kept busy helping with whatever was happening, sewing many costumes for Josiah, Rebecca and Larissa’s drama productions, cooking and canning and she never missed a corn day, even at the age of 101. Grace spent three years at Ridgewood Care Center in Seward before moving back to Ann’s home in the summer of 2020 and she formed special relationships with her caregivers both at Ridgewood and in the home.
She had a long life, full of love for family, friends and her Lord. Grace was known for her listening ear and her faithfulness in prayer for the needs that confided to her. She was an avid reader and had a dry wit and a way with words. She modeled fairness, consistency and loyalty. As the family gathered in song around her bedside during her final days, she tapped to the rhythm and mouthed the words, “Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine; angels rejoicing, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”
Survivors include her children and spouses, Dale and Marilyn Ackerman, Grand Island, Glen and Sharon Ackerman, Roca, Janice Kolostow, Gainsville, GA, Lyle and Bev Neal, Lincoln and Verlin and Ann Miller, Milford; grandchildren, Jody and Leo Stamer, Mitch and Judy Mendyk, Audrey and Dan Meyer, Marcia Ackerman, Ron and Gena Hartman, Laura Fortner, Josh and Erica Goding, Josh and Monica Mayo, Jeremy Neal, Josiah and Michelle Miller, Rebecca Miller and Larissa Miller; 14 great-grandchildren; and 8 great-great grandchildren.
Grace was preceded in death by her parents, Orval and Wanda McEwen, husband, Walter, brother Eugene McEwen, sons-in-law, Garrett Simons and Bob Kolostow, several aunts, uncles and cousins.
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