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Obituary for Vera Vastbinder

Vera Vastbinder, 94 of Adrian, Missouri passed away Saturday, April 29, 2017 at Adrian Manor. Graveside services will be held 12:00 pm Thursday, May 4, 2017 at Park Lawn Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri. There will be no visitation. Services under the direction of Mullinax Funeral Home (660-679-0009). Messages of condolence may be left for the family at http://www.mullinaxfuneralhome.com

Vera Pauline (Black) Vastbinder was born on September 26, 1922 to Forrest W. and Edna Black in Bethany, OK. She was a graduate of Olivet Nazarene College, a school teacher, an accomplished pianist/teacher, and pastor’s wife for many years. She later retired from working at Winter’s Bank in Dayton, Ohio before moving to be with her family in Missouri in 1995. She is preceded in death by her parents, and her brother and his wife (Warren and Shirley Black). She is survived by her children: Carol (and Don) Raisch of Forest City, NC, Joyce (and Doug) Wanty of Fairborn, OH, and Marvin (and Beth) Vastbinder of Ft. Wayne, IN; her grandchildren: Darrel Raisch, Dana (and Greg) Roberson, Devon (and Mandy) Raisch, Kimberly (and Jerry) Bailey, Jamie, and Lily Raisch, Danica (and Josh) Allen, Derrek (and Carla) Wanty, Micah (and Betsey) Vastbinder, Jana, and Joel Vastbinder; her great-grandchildren: Taylor, Jayden, and Eden Allen, Noelia, Eliana, and Benjamin Wanty, Triston, Jonathon, and Maddyson Raisch, Gracelyn, Caleb, and Aaron Roberson, and Kyla Bailey. She is also survived by her sister, Arla Dell (and Glen) Shore and their family as well as her nephew Ward (and Laurie) Black, and their children, Julia (A.J.) and Weston.

The Story of Vera Vastbinder

Written by her brother, Warren Black, in 2004

Some of my earliest memories of Vera, are waking up from a night’s sleep to hear Vera practicing the piano, which she did early each morning before going to school. I got acquainted with the music of a lot of songs, even songs of the opera, at a very early age. Our parents started Vera taking piano lessons at a very early age. That decision must have been a divine quickening within our parents for there had not been any inclination manifested by Vera toward music or the piano as a young child. Vera was indeed born with a gift, a God-given ability for music and the piano.

Vera has always been able to play songs on the piano by ear and then learned to skillfully play by note. Also, as a piano accompanist, if a singer’s voice is in a lower or higher voice range of pitch than the key the song is written, Vera can instantly transpose the music on the piano into a key that fits the singer’svoice, something most piano or organ accompanists lack the ability to do. Vera’s study of music and piano continued through grade school, high school and college, where she graduated from Olivet Nazarene College in Kankakee, Illinois and received very good scholastic marks. She was always a good student. At an early age to this present day, Vera’s favorite color has been blue. Her bedroom at home was decorated in blue. Her preference in her clothes was blue. She loved that color. It also reflected her character. She is true blue.

In the small town of Bethany, Oklahoma, there was only one church in town, the Church of the Nazarene. Bethany was a community largely made up of Nazarenes. Our parents were second generation Nazarenes, which made Vera and me 3rdgeneration Nazarenes. Church–wise, in growing up, that is all Vera and I knew.

The Church of the Nazarene is classified as a holiness denomination which emphasizes the importance of living a clean, godly life. This teaching had a profound influence on Vera and me in our growing up in the protected community. The town fathers were decades ahead of their time. The city fathers passed a law making it a $5.00 fine if caught smoking tobacco within the city limits. They did collect a few fines. $5.00 then was not the cheap $5.00 we have now.

Our parents were very involved in the church. For years, our daddy taught a Sunday school class of high school junior and senior boys and our mother was Sunday school supervisor over young children and babies under 3 years old. Daddy would take his large class of boys on outings 2 or 3 times during the year and our family was always involved in that. Our dad was a man of great godly wisdom whose wisdom and advice was often sought after by others in the community.

Vera received Jesus Christ as her Savior and then as her Lord when she was a young girl. Vera never went over a hill as a teenager nor was ever rebellious against authorities and always retained her love, respect and submission to her parents as a girl. She was deeply sincere and sensitive about her Christian experience and always had a tender spirit and a reverence concerning the deeper truths of God. As a committed Christian, Vera never fell away from her Christian experience and relationship with the Lord and lived a consistent, daily, Christian life. Her life’s pursuit has been always to put her Lord Jesus Christ first and foremost in her life.

The foundation and strong influence of our family lay in the fact that both of the parents of our daddy and mother were devout Christians. They lived the principles found in the Holy Scriptures and taught their children how to live out those godly principles. Vera’s 1st girl cousins, who were also close friends, were Christians. Vera’s school friends were Christian girls that reflected godly behavior and influence. They had fun and enjoyment. They were typical youth and teenage girls. Sunday, in our family, more often than not, was an afternoon given to rest and quietness and private devotions and our family being together. It was not one of strict parental enforcement but was one where love and devotion was a way of family life.

At six years of age, Vera was enrolled in the Putnam school system, a mile east of our home. In the 4th grade, Vera was transferred into the Bethany school system. Her tests proved her scholastic level to be a grade ahead, so in the school transfer, she skipped a grade and was enrolled as a sixth grader.

An incident that affected little Vera deeply in trauma was when Vera was in the 2nd grade at Putnam school. On November 19, 1930 at 9:30 AM, a tornado ripped through Bethany destroying a fourth of the homes, killing 33 people and injuring many dozens of people. Ambulance sirens were heard wailing continuously all day in the Putnam school since Putnam school was on U S highway 66 between Oklahoma City and Bethany but the school officials didn’t want to alarm the students and withheld the information from them about the tornado just a mile away.

The Putnam school officials held little Vera until about 4:30 pm and then released her to walk home by herself where she soon discovered, to her horror, houses gone, our next door neighbor’s home totally demolished, our cow and chicken barn and car garage gone. Also, she saw a big long board sticking out which had knocked a big hole in our house. All of this before finding her mother and me safe and unharmed. Daddy was at work in Oklahoma City. As a 2 year old, I distinctly remember, when mother and I were looking out of a south window in our house at a heavy rainstorm, of seeing a huge, long board whirling around up in the air. Mother uttered out an expression of alarm and danger, she grabbed me and rushed to the storm cellar for protection.

The main newspaper in the area was the Daily Oklahoman, published in Oklahoma City. The newspaper owned radio station WKY, one of the first stations on the air in Oklahoma. After the Bethany tornado, WKY took on the community interest project and raised thousands of dollars that was distributed to the families that were victims and suffered great loss from the terrible storm in Bethany.

When Vera was 12 years old, one of her little friends dared her to climb the big 300-foot high Bethany water tower. Kids will be kids. Of course, that was against the law but Vera didn’t know that. Vera took the dare and climbed the water tower to the top. She could see the whole town of Bethany and beyond. She spotted our house on the east side and saw mother, with her bonnet on, working in her garden on the north side of our house.

About that time, the town constable, Mr. Legg, had spotted Vera upon the tower and started blowing his shrill police whistle at Vera and yelling for her to come down. Fortunately, the whistle and yelling didn’t fill her with fear and then scare her at such a height. Vera did safely come down by herself. The town constable received a severe reprimand at the city council meeting for the way he handled the matter. Vera’s daddy was a member of the city council.

As children, in growing up, our parents had only one car. A bicycle never appealed to Vera. Grade and high schools was nearly a mile away. The college was 6 or 8 blocks away. Downtown Bethany was several blocks away. There was no post office home delivery in Bethany. Everybody had a post office box at the post office in town. I remember well that Vera got around by walking everywhere. She walked everywhere she went. We both had to walk to school and back, one mile each way. Walk downtown to get the mail. Vera was involved in school activities. I remember seeing Vera come and go a lot, watching her walk away. Vera developed kind of a fast gait as a way of her walking. The area where we lived was wide open. We could see 2 or 3 blocks away in every direction. I would see Vera walking away from home for quite a distance, as well as, walking back home from quite a distance away, as she came back home. It never occurred to us to try to beg our parents to be taken in the car here or there. Today is a different day for teenagers. I believe, however, Vera has been preparing all her life, and looking forward to doing what was written in an old Negro spiritual, and today, she won’t have to wait too much longer now, and then, she’s gon’na walk all over God’s Heaven.

Because of Vera’s piano and music training, Vera was quite popular and involved in many high school and extra– curricular school activities. Because of skipping a grade in a school transfer, Vera graduated from high school at the age of 16. Vera made friends easily and was blessed with many life-long girlfriends made in grade, high school and college that continued on through the years. She was a good and faithful letter writer with her friends that brought her a great deal of enjoyment and personal satisfaction. Since Vera moved to Belton/Raymore from Dayton, Ohio, there have been a half a dozen or so of her close lady friends/couples from the Dayton area that have driven the 600 miles here just to see Vera. Some 3 or 4 times, and one couple has come nearly every year to see her. Vera planted seeds of genuine friendship, love and concern and she reaped a harvest of many true, loving friends.

Vera enrolled in Bethany-Peniel College, a Nazarene college, at the age of 16, in the fall after high school graduation and attended there for two years until she transferred to Olivet Nazarene College. The transfer of colleges proved to be a major turning point and change in her life. She insisted on the change of colleges against her wise father’s advice. Vera graduated from Olivet Nazarene College. Vera then taught as a grade school teacher after graduation, working and helping her husband to graduate from college, whom she had met at Olivet, and then continued further work for another 2 or 3 years to help put him through seminary in Kansas City. She married a Nazarene preacher boy and she became a preacher’s wife for several years. All her life, she had desired to be the wife of a pastor and to have a life-long part in the Christian church ministry.

Three children were born into their home. While her children were growing up, Vera, together with a close, godly, mature Christian friend and prayer warrior, regularly spent many hours, through the years, praying for her children. Their names are Carol, Joyce and Marvin, in that order. Carol and Joyce are both school teachers today and have children. Carol and her husband were missionaries in Vietnam and in Africa for several years. Marvin works for IBM and is a computer program and software specialist. Marvin is married and has children. All three of her children and their husbands and wife are Christians raising their families in Christian homes.

Through the years, Vera has served both as a volunteer and as a paid pianist in churches along with other professional activities involving music. Vera had the opportunity of accompanying on the piano some well-known professional singers. Later on, she was in demand as a piano teacher, teaching dozens of children and older people as well, how to play the piano. Vera continued as a piano teacher with many students up until she made her move to Belton, Missouri in 1995.

Vera worked for a bank in Dayton, Ohio, for more than twenty years before her retirement from the bank. In 1995, while in her seventies, she chose to move to Belton, Missouri, to be close to me, her brother, my wife, my family and other relatives. My wife, Shirley, has been such a help and blessing with Vera. Her children and their families live in North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana. Her children usually visit their mother in the month of July each year.

Though aging has affected Vera in some ways, it has not affected her ability to play the piano. She enjoys playing songs, especially hymns and gospel songs, in full octave cords of harmony with both hands. This enriches the sound of her music. To this day, music is the love of her life. She hears and sees well, and still has a keen ear in music.

When we take her out for a drive, we turn the car radio on and tune to a Christian station playing sacred hymns and gospel songs. She becomes immediately focused on the beautiful Christian music and she hums and sings along with the songs and then raves about the beautiful voices singing the songs. Through her music, she still is blessed to be able to be a blessing to others where she now lives. She enjoys and loves that opportunity. It keeps her contented in her present circumstances. One of the staff told me, recently, that when Vera starts playing the piano, the whole atmosphere in the place changes and residents start toward Vera and the piano to gather around her while she plays. They enjoy hearing her music.

Often, now, when I drop in to see Vera, I find her with a Bible laying on her bed along with her two hymnals, reading the hymns which are songs written that contain foundational truths from the Holy Scriptures. She then wants to share the words of the hymns with me while I’m there that she had just been reading. She spends many hours alone in her hymnals. What a wonderful way to spend her time reading and feeding her mind on spiritual matters. Vera has been convinced that that is what really matters the most in this present, fleeting life. Her priorities are in proper order. I usually pray for her each time I visit before leaving. When I finish praying, big tears well up in her eyes and she looks up and expresses herself with gratitude, such as,“thank you for the wonderful prayer you prayed. I know the Lord heard your prayer.” Warren Black


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