Ora Lee Willis Kincheloe Vanek, 105, of Sheridan, passed away May 19. She was born near Evergreen, LA July 14, 1914, to Charlie and Callie Octavia Willis. The sixth child of 10 children was delivered by a black midwife named Rachel.
Ora attended school in “The Burn,” for two years before finishing secondary school with the eleventh grade in Bunkie. As a young girl, riding horses and helping her Papa with outside chores was her daily routine. When a Mississippi levee broke and the farm was threatened in 1927, Ora Lee’s job was to get the livestock to higher ground, while her brother Pee Wee got the younger children to safety. They succeeded on both accounts.
While visiting her sister Adele Teer and brother-in-law Jimmy of Rock Island, Ora met George Miller Kincheloe in Sheridan in June of 1934 (another sister, Vera, later came to Texas to visit, met and married Marvin Tesch of Sheridan). Ora and Miller were married in Chenneyville, LA Dec. 19, 1934. One of the attendants at their wedding was Ora’s sister, Dorothy Harper. After the nuptials, the newlywed Kincheloes returned to Sheridan, where they lived until Miller’s death Oct. 10, 1976. Together they had and reared six children, 13 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, eight great-great-grandchildren, three step-great-grandchildren, two stepdaughters, and three step-grandchildren.
Years after Miller’s death, while perfecting her dancing skills at the Mustang Hall in Hallettsville, Ora met a widower named Joe Vanek. It was love at first dance and they married July 15, 1989 in Sweet Home, where they lived and danced until Joe’s death in June of 2001. At this time, Ora returned to Sheridan.
Ora, during her 80 or so years in Sheridan, served as PTA President, Den Mother, Room Mother, Election Judge, President of Cheetham Cemetery Association, and the list goes on. In addition, she ran the Live Oak Drugstore and Sheridan Cafe. She was a loyal supporter of her children’s school academic and sports activities, always urging them to do better.
Ora, in her “senior” years in Sheridan, dined with the Red Hat Girls once a month and danced away many a Sunday afternoon in Sweet Home.
Ora is survived by: children, Nellar Jane Svec, Donna Jean Gullett, George Lee Kincheloe and Carol Ann Tesch; sister Vera Tesch; stepchildren, Betty Jahn and Margie Waggoner; grandchildren, Dana Sanders, Tanya Johnson, Jacque Williamson, Robert Williamson, John Williamson, Keith Williamson, James Williamson, Deanne Hagelman, Kenn Gullett, Amy Kincheloe, Kim Miller, and Susie Plummer; step-grandchildren, Angie Ferguson, Jeff Jahn and Tim Jahn; great-grandchildren, Angie Zbranek, Eric Sanders, Jeremiah Johnson, Jade Porsche, Colleen Garcia, Kristina Williamson, Ryan Williamson, Brennan and Tristen Williamson, Carson Williamson, Jamin Williamson, Sean Williamson, Kayne Williamson, Jennifer Wellborn, Elliott Hagelman, Griffin Hagelman, Killian Gullett, Liam Gullett, Addyson Schlink, Celeste Miller, Carter Lee Williamson and Brooklyn Porche; step-great-grandchildren Danny Boone, Pat Boone and Amy Boone; and great-great-grandchildren Zane Zbranek, Eric Sanders Jr., Ethan Sanders, Keagan Garcia, Camille Garcia, Caden Garcia, Avery Talia.
Ora was preceded in death by husbands George Miller Kincheloe and Joe Vanek; children Herbert Kincheloe and Joyce Williamson; grandson Rick Wellborn; parents, three brothers; and five sisters.
Funeral service was Wednesday, May 27 at Kubena Funeral Home of Hallettsville, officiated by Reb. Ike Peterson.
Memorials: Donor’s Choice. Burial: Cheetham Cemetery, Sheridan.
Words of comfort may be shared with the family at www.kubenafuneralhome.com.