Susan Amelia Ondracek
Susan Amelia (Abigt) Ondracek, 99, died of COVID-19 complications on October 11, 2020, at Velva, North Dakota's Souris Valley Care Center. Named for her maternal and paternal grandmothers respectively,
Susan Amelia Abigt was born on February 12, 1921, to Fred and Bessie (Stark) Abigt of rural St. Joe, Wyoming on the family's farm.
Susan was bright, artistic, and did well in school. After graduating from eighth grade, she attended Burlington High School, graduating in 1939. Susan was the top student and won a scholarship to attend the University of Wyoming to earn a two-year teaching certificate. Her first teaching job was at Hyattville, WY. Later Susan taught at Greybull, WY. While at Hyattville, Susan met and eventually married Charles (Chuck) Ondracek in a ceremony in Billings, MT on June 20, 1946. June 20 was a special date not only because it is the summer solstice, but June 20 was also Susan's mother's birthday.
Chuck and Susan farmed with Susan's parents and then in 1951 bought an operation of their own. The ranch purchased from Joe and Nina Williamson was one of the original homesteads established along the Greybull River. The ranch consisted of irrigated hay and pasture lands and sub-irrigated pastures. The ranch house of logs was originally constructed about 1890 by 'Uncle Johnny' Williamson. Susan and Charles worked diligently to improve the ranch fields and established an oasis of grass, flowers, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens under the giant cottonwood trees originally planted by 'Uncle Johnny.' Soon other properties were added to the home place. A small property belonging to the Marlow family was purchased. Next, the property of Capitola Peterson was incorporated into the operation. With each purchase, extensive improvements in drainage, brush removal, and land leveling to aid flood irrigation were made.
After her marriage to Charles, Susan stopped teaching and devoted her time to home and family. And family eventually came. On July 7, 1950, Mary Kathleen was born. On May 15, 1956, James Charles was born.
In 1971, Charles and Susan sold the Wyoming property to the Hoyt family of Colorado and life on a dryland Montana ranch began. After an extensive selection process, a ranch at Roundup, Montana was purchased from Bud and Eloise Hansen. The ranch was large, well improved, had a modern house located next to the city limits of Roundup, had extensive shops and garages, wells, and corrals. While the Roundup ranch was nearly ideal in that it was less labor intensive than the irrigated Wyoming property, it was wholly dependent on rainfall. Some years were bountiful and some years were not.
The move was initially hard on Susan who missed Wyoming, but Susan's mother Bessie moved with the family. This greatly helped Susan's loneliness. Later Susan would exclaim that moving to Montana was the best thing Charles and she had ever done.
Like the Wyoming property, the Roundup ranch was improved, new wells and water sources were developed, new fences were built and additional acreages from Joe and Alma Peters were purchased.
However, by the late 1980s, the Roundup ranch became too much for Susan and Charles. In 1990, they sold the ranch and had a home built in Schuyler, NE near Charles's boyhood home. The move to Schuyler was good. Susan was an only child but Charles's family consisted of ten brothers and sisters (nine of whom lived to adulthood). Charles and Susan were surrounded by an extended loving family and the time in Schuyler was pleasant. Charlies died March 20, 2006 and life was lonely for Susan. Eventually, she moved to a condo at Colorado City Colorado, near her daughter Mary and son-in-law Larry's home.
As Susan's ability to live independently declined, she agreed to move to an assisted living facility at Minot, ND. Minot is the home of her son James and his wife Pamela. Susan spent six good years at the Wellington. However, her needs outstripped the services of the Wellington and she lived for nearly three years at an Evangelical Lutheran nursing home at Velva, ND.
While Susan was not outgoing, she was well-liked by those who interacted with her. To the end, she remained the kind, polite, gentle woman she had always been. She will be missed.
Susan is survived by son James, daughter-in-law Pamela Ondracek (Minot, ND), and granddaughter Chloe Ondracek (Tucson). While Susan's daughter, Mary K. (Ondracek) Peryam Sanford, is deceased (Mary died December 10, 2015), Susan is survived by grandson Christopher Peryam (Denver), and grandson, Tom Peryam, granddaughter-in-law Marilee, and great-grandchildren Charlie, George, and Anna (all of Oklahoma City), and sons-in-law Steve Peryam (Barb) of Casper, WY, and Larry (Emily) Sanford of Durango, CO.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, August 1 in Schuyler, NE at the Library Event Center (1123 A Street) from 1:30 to 4:30 PM.