The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Zella Belle Schmale

1919 to 2015

 

Zella Belle (Johnson) Schmale, 96, died peacefully Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, at Heritage Estates in Gering.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 12, at Weyerts Immanuel Lutheran Church, north of Lodgepole. Interment in the Weyerts Cemetery will follow the service.

Visitation will not be held. Holechek Funeral Home and Cremations is Sidney is serving the Schmale family. You can view the online obituary and share condolences with the family at http://www.holechekfuneralhomes.com.

Memorial contributions for the purchase of children's books may be made in Zella Belle's name to the Sidney Public Library.

Zella Belle Johnson, the first child of Zella Gould Ray Johnson and Frank Arthur Johnson, was born on March 8, 1919, at the home of her maternal grandparents in Elm Creek, Neb. Her mother returned with her soon thereafter to their farm home north of Sidney.

Zella Belle attended a rural school and in 1935 at the age of 16, graduated from Sidney High School, taking additional teacher's training at Kearney State College. She then helped support her family during the years of the Great Depression as a teacher in rural one-room country schoolhouses in Cheyenne County.

On April 21, 1939, she married Louis Schmale. They moved to a farm north of Lodgepole, a happy first home, of which she later wrote, "I was lucky to move into this nice house ... setting a table for company dinner in my new dining room with the sunshine streaming through the bay window was a dream come true!" In 1944, they moved to the current Schmale farm, where she and Louis raised their four children.

Zella Belle's life was marked by a love of books, and reading to her children was an important part of family routine. She also enjoyed music, cooking, entertaining and gardening. She was confirmed in the Lutheran faith after her marriage, and was for over 50 years very active in Weyerts Immanuel Lutheran Church. She was also an active member of the Nebraska Wheat Hearts, supporting Louis' activity in the Nebraska Wheat Growers, and she was an early supporter and charter member of Nebraska Public Television and Radio.

In 1988, Zella Belle moved to Sidney, landscaping the yard of her new home with native trees, a patch of buffalo grass, rosebushes, and gardens. Always interested in family history, she joined the Cheyenne County Genealogical Society, and the Cheyenne County Historical Society. She traced her Ray and Gould family histories back to Colonial America, as well as the history of the Johnsons, who were immigrants from Sweden and homesteaders in Cheyenne County. She inherited from them her love of books, reading, and family.

Zella Belle was a supporter of the Sidney Community Center, the High Plains Arts Council, the community park's display gardens, and served for many years as a Hospital Auxiliary Volunteer. She enjoyed traveling and went on several "Elderhostel" educational trips, as well as trips to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, England, and many visits to California, Colorado, and Washington, D.C., to visit her children and grandchildren.

Zella Belle was preceded in death by her husband, Louis, in 1983, by one daughter, Cynthia Maddox, in 2012, and by one brother, Malcolm Johnson. She is survived by one daughter, Linda Schmale-Tate (Jim) of Washington, D.C., by her two sons, Neal (Margaret) of LaJolla, Calif., and Douglas (Mary), of Lodgepole, by her son-in-law Robert Maddox, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., by one brother Arthur (Marcy) of Porterville, Calif., and by a sister-in-law Julienne Johnson, of Cheyenne Wells, Colo.

She is also survived by grandchildren: Eric Schmale, of Washington, D.C., Michael Schmale, of New York City, Aaron (Becky) Maddox, of Laramie, Wyo., whose children Charlie and Chloe were her first great-grandchildren, Hunter Maddox, of Steamboat Springs, and step-grandson Brant Tate (Nicole) and their two children Jos and Mim, of Brisbane, Australia.

 

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