Dolores Theobald Mohler passed away peacefully at her home in Colorado Springs, Colo., the morning of Wednesday, March 26, 2003, at the age of 91. She had been living in Colorado Springs since the late spring of 2000. Dolores was born in Yuma, Colo., on Sept. 8, 1911. Her father, George Theobald, was a carpenter as well as a millwright originally from Wisconsin. Her mother Bertha Schempp Theobald was a graduate nurse from Illinois. When Dolores was nine months old, her family moved to Wauneta where her father built a mill and also homes. When she was eleven, the mill caught fire and subsequently, her father passed away. At that point, she and her younger brother, Dale, tried to help their mother make ends meet by various chores such as babysitting, delivering meat and selling strawberries. Their mother converted the house into a "tourist home" since there was no hotel from the nearest town 20 miles away to the railroad center 50 miles to the east. During the summers, traveling salesmen and Chautauqua entertainers stayed at the house, while in the winter the family boarded schoolteachers.
When Dolores was thirteen she began working at the Grimms Brothers Hardware Store. This was a full-time summer job and in the winter a Saturday job. The job did not keep Dolores away from her love of learning, hiking and camping in the out of doors which had been received from her favorite teacher, Mae Grimm. Dolores also loved horses and riding them with her best friend, Grace Oliver. She played on the girls basketball team and lettered in other sports. She also was in dramatics and music concerts. As a senior in high school she was the editor of the yearbook and came up with the name Wauneta Broncos, in honor of the bronco horse she enjoyed riding on. She graduated from Wauneta High School in 1929.
She went to McCook Junior College for her first year of higher education and to Nebraska Wesleyen the second year. At the end of this year she was sent home with anemia and spent the following year recovering with relatives on farms in Wisconsin and Illinois.
In 1933, she decided to go to the University of Nebraska where she majored in Social Work. Through the Quaker Society of Friends, Dolores earned social work credits by working with Italian immigrant children in Philadelphia, Pa., one summer. Another summer she took classes at the University of Colorado in Denver, Colo., where she worked on a project with Navajo Indians from New Mexico. She went on to graduate as a Phi Beta Cappa from the University of Nebraska. After graduation, she worked for seven years as a caseworker for The Family Service Agency in Lincoln.
Dolores was married to Phares Lapp Mohler on Sept. 3, 1939. She continued to work and commuted to be with her new husband in Norfolk. For a period of time, she was the Acting Director of Family Service. Dolores was a devoted wife and mother. Her two children, Laurel and Ann, were born in Norfolk before her husband was transferred to Omaha in October of 1950. Phares worked for the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company. During these years, Dolores was focused mainly on the care and nurturing for her immediate and extended family. She cared for aging elderly relatives, a brother-in-law who had tuberculosis and also instilled the ritual of the dinner table as a place of family reunion for all. Her abiding love of books led her to the University of Omaha for night classes in Library Science. Her energy and love of life was grounded in a life long commitment to Christian values. She was active in the Clifton Hill Presbyterian Church in many different roles in her fifty-year membership there. She was a pioneer in her community by helping to found the Northwest Community Council of Omaha. The goal of the council was to maintain a neighborhood which was culturally and racially mixed which was a novel idea in the early 1960's. During her last 15 years in Omaha, she continued to live at 4032 Maple in her neighborhood. She was respected as a living legend in the neighborhood as "that old lady on the corner who grows the tomato plants."
After her children were grown and her husband was retired, Dolors enjoyed helping her husband in a traveling electronic sales position which entailed covering 11 western states. This was a wonderful time for them.
Throughout her life, Dolores had an avid interest in history, particularly Nebraska history. She continued to read and acquire new books for her collection up until she passed away. She also enjoyed researching the history of both the Theobald and Mohler families.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Phares Lapp Mohler; her parents, George and Bertha; her brother, Dale Theobald; nieces, Brenda Theobald and D'Ann Johnson; her half-sister, Mina Athey; nieces, Vetura and Eunice; nephew, Veryl; half-sister, Charlotte Jarvis; niece, May and nephew, Mark; half-sister, Mary Athey; and nephews, Leon and Glenn Athey.
She is survived by her daughters, Elizabeth Laurel Dunn and Ann Louise Mohler; sister-in-law, Phyllis Theobald; niece, Myrna Bradbury; great-nieces, Angela Johnson and Athenia Michael; nephews, Marvin Athey and Kent Theobald; great-nephew, Ty Theobald. She is also survived by her brothers-in-law, Levi Mohler and Nathan Mohler; niece, Lois Okrasinski; great-niece, Alison Taylor; niece, Dr. Jean Anderson; great-niece, Dr. Mindy Cohen; nephew, Robert Mohler; great-niece, Kelsey Moses; and great-nephew, Kyle Mohler.
Memorials may be given to the Chase County Division of the Nebraska Historical Foundation, 215 Centennial Mall South, 408 Lincoln Center Building, Lincoln, NE 68508-1813.
Liewer Funeral Home of Wauneta is in charge of arrangements.