Veronica Janda Kenny
See article on our mom's "mom-ism's)
In 1996, my mother, Veronica, wrote a mini biography of her life. I will summarize it;
She came to Omaha when she was three years old. Her family had lived in Plattsmouth and she was the youngest of six children. Her father was Charles Janda and he had worked for the railroad, but work got scares so he, being a carpenter, moved to Omaha where work was more plentiful. Charles went to work for Martin Christiansen , a construction company. His work was seasonable and though they never had any other little extras, they didn't have to go without, either. Veronica's mother would make her own laundry soup and she canned everything.
Veronica went to school at Holy Name, in Omaha, (tuition was $1. per month) and attended there all 12 years, graduating in May, 1937 at 16 years old.
She recalls being happy in her childhood, and having a good group of friends. Her mother was a great seamstress and made all Veronica's cloths, which she never minded wearing, because the quality was so good.
When she was a senior in high school, her brother Clem died, on March 6th. Veronica and Clem were always close, though their was a big age difference.
Also, in her senior year her high school had a 'lawn social'. Several guys from Sacred heart school came to this social and it was here that she met Dan Kenny, for the first time. It wasn't love at first sight, however, several weeks later, Dan called while Veronica wasn't home. He talked to her brother Danny, and Danny accepted a date for her to the Golden Spike dance at Peony Park. They dated on and off for a while and received her diamond ring when she was 20,with yellow roses and a set of silverware, "First Love". They planned on getting married when the army started drafting men. If a man went in beforehand and enlisted for a year, they wouldn't have to serve. Dan was in about 10 months when Pearl Harbor was bombed and he couldn't get out after that. He served till October 1945 and they were married December 29, 1945.
They were lucky to get an apartment with a friend of the family, Mrs. Giles. It was a basement apartment at 514 1/2 S. 52nd St, with one big room, a kitchen with a bathtub inside the kitchen. A door in this kitchen opened to this bathtub. It was a very cold apartment, though they were happy. The rent was $40 per month. Both Susan and Nancy were lived there and Dan was just finishing law School at Creighton, when the moved to 4516 S. 25th St. on Jan. 27, 1949, Veronica's mother and dad lent them $1500 for a down payment on this house. Auntie Irene also lent them $400 because they needed $1900 to get it. Dan paid them back every month till the loans were paid. Mom never liked living in South "O" or that house. It had no access to the basement except to go outside through a trap door. Her father cut into the floor in the pantry and put in steps to the basement for them and completely remodeled the kitchen for them with new cabinets and cupboards - they only had to pay for the materials. The house cost $4500. It had two bedrooms, dining room, kitchen and a living room. Other than the house, Dan would never buy anything unless he had the money to pay for it.
Mary Lou was born while living here and when she was eight months old, they moved to 1114 S. 33rd St., where the family stayed. Dan used his G.I. Bill to buy this house and they managed to put down $1000, which carried an $8000 mortgage. Their payments were $46. 46 per month. Two more children were born while living here, Anne Marie and Joseph.
On May 16th, 1954, Dan went on a fishing trip to Ely Minnesota with four friend. Later that day, around 1:30 PM, there was an accident and Dan drowned. Before the trip, Dan drove Veronica to Topeka, KS. All the children went too, except for Susan, who stayed with her sister, Cele. Topeka is were Frank Vlock lived. he was also on the fishing trip. When frank called her with the grim news, my mother refused to believe him. He finally convinced her mother that it was true. She recalled singing church hymns all the way to Topeka.
Life stopped for her as she returned home. There she was with five children all under 7 1/2 years old. She had to learn everything. She had no credit, in fact, she had never paid a bill, she didn't even know where to pay them.
Months went by and Veronica was finding that she couldn't even eat. She was afraid to even leave the house, in fear that her children would wonder if she was going to never come home. Her family Doctor told her she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.. She was with the kids constantly. It was recommended for her to take a part-time job.
Jerry Kenny, Dan's brother, stepped in and showed her how to do the finances. He did so much more though. He helped her with putting insurance money away in the right investments and even did all he could to see if anyone was at fault, or could be blamed for Dan's death. I know he wrote the State of Minnesota, and contacted at least two attorney, including his brother, Jack to see if Bill Rom, the resort owner was liable for not warning the men of extraordinary high waters in the river, or if the boats could have been defective.
Veronica worked all the rest of her years, sometimes holding a day job and working a few night at a second job, to make ends meat. She retired when she reached 70, from Creighton University.
Around the year 2000, Veronica started to loose the control of her legs and knew it was time to leave the big house at 1114 S. 33rd St. This was a tough decision. It is something that she swore she would never do, but with all the steps it wasn't practical any longer to stay in such a big house. She moved to a smaller apartment at 7925 Elm Plz #103, and loved her new home.
While I was visiting my wife's family in England, in March, 2006, we received a call from Omaha that our mom had passed away. We got the next flight home. We all think she died on the evening of March 5, 2006, but her official date of death was March 6th.
More that 50 different people had purchased flowers for her at the wake and over 400 attended the services. I was asked to give the Eulogy at her funeral.
Here is a low quality video that BJ Stevens, a grandson of Veronica's took on his cell phone
Memories of Mom by Ryan Lamb and Kelly Lamb Colbert grandchildren of Veronica