Mildred A (Phifer) Owens

By: 
NLJ Staff

MILDRED A. (PHIFER) OWENS

March 30, 1932–April 23, 2019

Mildred, the daughter of Josephine Clarabelle Ramsey and Earl Victor Phifer, began her earthly journey in Gothenburg, Neb., on March 30, 1932. Surrounded by her loving family, she peacefully went to her heavenly home on April 23, 2019.

At the time of her birth, her parents were living and ranching by the water tower near Arnold, Neb. Mildred was an infant when the family left Nebraska and moved to her father’s homestead in Cow Creek by Lance Creek, Wyo.

At the age of 5 Mildred started school because she raised heck when siblings Beverly and Leslie left for school each day. Her teacher, Mrs. Teeze, allowed her into school as long as she could keep up and behave. When Mildred was in second grade, the family moved back to Arnold to take care of her Grandma Phifer’s place. In 1940 the family was living in the Sand Hills, Logan County, south of Dunning. The family moved to Hot Springs, S.D., when she was 14.

She attended Hot Springs High School in Hot Springs. In 1947, she married  LaVerne Busskohl, that union bore two children, Jo Anne L. Owens-Nauslar and Dick E. Owens. Later she married John D. Owens, and a daughter, Milinda K. Wineteer, was born.

Mildred was a member of Newcastle, Wyo., and surrounding area communities for 65 years. Before moving to the Painted Hills area in Newcastle, the family lived on Wood Street, The Baldwin Place, and The Roby Place near the Wyoming/South Dakota state line.

Her diverse working life included 20 years as ticket taker at the Mountain Inn. Mildred was later employed by the late Vern Prell at the Dogie Theatre in Newcastle. Always teaching her children the benefits of hard physical labor, Mildred also worked in the logging/timber industry with her husband John. The Owens’ also ran fall hunting camps and provided guide services in the Big Horn Mountains and the surrounding Wyoming and South Dakota areas. After receiving her GED in 1989 and pursuing her Certified Sterilization Tech (CST) from Purdue University Extension, Mildred used her skill set at Weston County Health Services for 20 years. She was one of the first internationally certified CSTechs in Wyoming. In 2005 she retired and began her worldwide travels. Her volunteerism and commitment to the local health screening/fair continued 10 years after her retirement.

Mildred and John Owens’ love for horses and critters launched them into the quarter horse racing world with John and Glenda Fordyce, Jim Clyde and the Kline boys. She also enjoyed walking, hunting, fishing, agriculture, animals and travel. Her family was her life. She was blessed to enjoy the recent birth of her latest great-granddaughter and the college graduation of a great-grandson.

Mildred’s life with her children on the Little Britches Rodeo Circuit provided additional travel and an appreciation for the rural and western lifestyle. Her move in 2016 from her beloved Newcastle to Lincoln, Neb., for medical reasons was an eye opener. She saw more cars and people in one day than were in all of Newcastle. While living in Lincoln, Mildred attended Trinity Chapel Church on Rokeby Road. 

During her 25 years of travel with Jo Anne, she went to Hawaii 11 times, Alaska twice, two Kentucky Derbies, Ireland twice, as well as Germany, France, and Spain. Additionally they traveled to 44 states during Jo’s National Health/Physical Education Presidency years.

Mildred was a member of the Old Country Church at Four Corners, Wyo., and the Newcastle VFW Auxiliary No. 2516.

Survivors include her three children, JoAnne Owens-Nauslar of Lincoln; Dick E. Owens (Kristy) of Edgemont, S.D., and Milinda Wineteer (Cliff) of Chadron, Neb.; six grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; 27 nieces and nephews; and a long list of great-nieces and great-nephews. Lifelong friends Dolly Phillips, Shirley Redding, Dr. Dee Curtis, Karen Ruff, her aloha and Lincoln families and Jim/Tammy Clyde also survive her.

Mildred was preceded in death by her parents, Earl V. and Josephine (Ramsey) Phifer; husband, John D. Owens; brothers, Leslie Phifer and Earl Phifer Jr.; sister, Beverly Phifer; son-in law, Red Nauslar; niece, Terry Lee Pierce; and nephew, Matthew Phifer.

Celebrations of the life and journeys of Mildred Ann (Phifer) Owens are planned as follows: Friday, May 16, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at PlaMor Ballroom, 6600 West O Street in Lincoln to celebrate Mildred’s Nebraska roots; Friday, May 17, her family will take Mildred on her final road trip through her beloved Sand Hills to her home in Newcastle for her Going Home Celebrations; Saturday, May 18, will be Mildred’s Wyoming Celebrations of Life at The Old Country Church, Four Corners, at 10:30 a.m., followed by a community send-off at the Newcastle Senior Center, 627 Pine Street at 2:30 pm.

The family requests memorials to Weston County Senior Services Center (627 Pine Street, Newcastle, WY 82701), The Old Country Church (c/o Pastor Bill Haley, 5101 Highway 16, Newcastle, WY 82701), or the charity of your choice.

Casual dress for all celebrations, jeans preferred and spurs are optional. Please join family and friends after each service for sandwiches, desserts, and beverages to share more Mildred stories. 

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