Ona May Hays NeuenschwanderAugust 22, 2022
Ona Mae Hays Neuenschwander, age 96, a true daughter of Kansas, is returning home after she passed away peacefully on August 8, 2022, from infirmities at her daughter’s home in St. Louis. Ona was born in Paola, Kansas on January 28, 1926. She was the eldest daughter of eight children born to Walter Hays and Violet Moraine Hays. Ona attended Plum Creek School, near Osawatomie, Kansas, where her mother had been a teacher and graduated at the top of her class. She was a scholar throughout at Osawatomie High School. Ona was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Political Science Club, and voted Outstanding Senior by the faculty. While in high school, she worked at the clubhouse at the Osawatomie Golf Course, which was managed by her father. After graduating from high school in 1943, Ona moved into town and worked for a local dentist, Dr. Melton Van Gelder. Ona married Kenneth Eugene Neuenschwander on May 24, 1945, at the First United Methodist Church in Osawatomie. They moved to Manhattan, Kansas, where Ken attended Kansas State University on the GI bill and two of their six children would be born. Upon graduation in 1948, Ken and Ona moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. They raised their family in Tulsa and later in Jefferson City, Missouri, where they relocated in 1968. In addition to being a homemaker, Ona worked in retail credit and as an office manager. Ona and Ken returned after retirement to the family home in Osawatomie in 1996. Upon her return to Osawatomie, Ona continued her passion for family history and volunteered at the Miami County Historical Museum in Paola and the Osawatomie History Museum. One of her annual rituals was to decorate with flowers all of her relatives’ graves in the Osawatomie and Paola cemeteries on Memorial Day. For years, as part of the Osawatomie Alumni Association reunions, Ona would walk in the annual homecoming parade with the Class of 1943. Ona was preceded in death by her husband of 68 years, Kenneth E. Neuenschwander, in 2013, and her son, Michael G. Neuenschwander, in 1978. She is survived by two sons, Thomas H. Neuenschwander of Kenton, OK and David E. Neuenschwander of Kirkwood, Mo.; three daughters, Elaine Neuenschwander of Osawatomie, Kan., Kathleen N. Shipley (Michael) of Kirkwood, Mo., and Marlene Neuenschwander of Lawrence, Kan.; two grandsons, Wesley R. Teal (Christinia Crippes) of Ames, Iowa and Walter M. Teal of Lawrence, Kan.; one brother, Charles B. Hays (Jody) of Atchison, KS; one sister, Linda Hays Carter (Sam) of Las Vegas, Nev.; two sisters-in-law, Wilma Tice Hays (Robert) of Osawatomie, Kan. and Margaret Latinis Hays (Walter) of Wamego, Kan.; as well as many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and nephews, long-time neighbors and friends. A graveside service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 27, at the Osawatomie City Cemetery across from her beloved Plum Creek School. Memorials may be made to the Miami County Historical Museum and sent in care of the Eddy-Birchard Funeral Home, P.O. Box 430, Osawatomie, KS 66064, which is in charge of arrangements.