Funeral services for Howard “Billy” Mayberry, age 91, of Niobrara, Nebraska will be 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 12, 2016, at Niobrara Evangelical Lutheran Church in Niobrara. Reverend Martha Atkins will officiate, with burial in L’Eau Qui Court Cemetery in Niobrara.
Visitation will be Monday from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the church, with a 7:30 p.m. Masonic Service.
Brockhaus Funeral Home in Niobrara is in charge of arrangements.
Billy died Thursday, July 7, 2016, at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, South Dakota.
Howard "Billy" William Mayberry was born to William John Mayberry and Lilly Rebecca (Ottoman) Mayberry on October 2, 1924, on a farm, in a granary, because their house had burned down. It was located 10 miles east and 3/4 mile south of Niobrara. Shortly after he was born, folks began calling him Billy and he has remained that ever since.
As a child he lived on several different farms in the same area, attending school at District # 70 (Sunshine School) and Pleasant Hill district #69, walking to school every day, both ways. In those days they milked cows by hand, gathered cobs from the pig yard and gathered wood and if you didn't do your chores daily, the punishment was severe. When Billy was 7 or 8 he had to haul a 400 gallon water tank with a team of horses, he claimed the team was so gentle they knew more than he did.
For a year Billy and his family farmed and lived in an 8 x 12 shack and a tent near flat and barren Patricia, South Dakota. He told of a blizzard that came through, thinking the shack was going to blow down so they went to the tent. To stay warm, he slept between his parents while his sister snuggled in a sheepskin bag and slept on top of bed springs on the floor. After that one blizzard, the decision was made to come back to Nebraska. Billy took his 7th and 8th grade exams in Bloomfield Nebraska and had never been in such a big building in his life.
He remembered the dust and grasshoppers of the 1930's, cutting wood with a cross cut saw and barely able to pull it, burning wood in a 50 gallon barrel to cook and to stay warm. He ate chicken soup, corn bread and beans for about four years, egg sandwiches for lunch at school and learned early to never complain.
Billy attended Niobrara High School and graduated in 1942, it was there he met a young girl wearing riding boots, green riding pants and a bright red jacket, Avis May. She was his one and only love and they courted. On June 23rd of 1945, Avis became his bride in a quiet, candle lit ceremony at First Trinity Lutheran Church in Yankton, South Dakota.
Their first home was located in what was called the Devils Nest, a secluded area north of Lindy, Nebraska. During the winter, they were seldom able to get to town unless they drove across the frozen Missouri River, so that is what they did. There was a small Russian colony located on the Nebraska side and when the ice froze over they would scatter manure on the ice to make a road that was safe to drive on. Many trips were made this way until an early spring thaw came while they were in Yankton with their two small children. The colony folk on the South Dakota side assured them they could cross safely but the closer then got to the Nebraska side, the softer the ice became. By the time they reached the bank, the muffler was chugging under the water and ice was cracking all around. During this time he developed a love of flying and eventually owned a small piper cub which made travel in and out of the Nest smooth and easy. Because their children were of school age and there was no school to attend, they moved to the Fred May farm nine miles west of Niobrara and then in 1969, they moved into the town of Niobrara. Billy and Avis loved to travel with their camper and did make it to every state in the United States and every province in Canada.
Billy was a life member of Niobrara Lutheran church where he served for a time as youth sponsor and many years on church council. He was active in the Masonic Lodge, Raymond Rippers 4H club, saddle club and served on the school board during the consolidation years. He enjoyed farming and loved working with his cattle. Hours were spent cutting cedar trees in the pasture and riding his 4-wheeler. He was kind and loving, loyal, stubborn and determined. He loved music, to dance and to sing but was unable to enjoy these things in later years due to his hearing loss. He loved telling stories of his life to his children and grandchildren. Most of all he loved and missed his wife.
Billy leaves his two children, Kenneth Mayberry (Sue) of York, Nebraska and Bonnie Paulsen (Don) of Crofton, Nebraska; five grandchildren, Shelli Mayberry of Evergreen Colorado, John (Shanna) Mayberry of York, Nebraska, Matthew (Tracy) Paulsen of Primrose, Nebraska, Heather (Kyle) Joachimsen of Yankton, South Dakota and Sarah (Ben) Arens of Yankton; nine great-grandchildren; and one niece.
He was preceded by his wife, Avis; his parents, Bill and Lilly; sisters, Theola Youel and Dorothy Mayberry; mother and father-in-law, Aleda and Fred May; brother-in-law, Wilford Youel; and aunts, uncles, and friends.
Billy and Avis are dancing together again.