9/14/1943 – 7/28/2023
Vergie Anderson, 79, of Lawrence, Kansas, formerly of Kinsley, Kansas, and Rozel, Kansas, passed away on Friday, July 28, 2023, in home hospice surrounded by her loving family.
Vergie passed away from her years long battle with various cancers which shaped her life-long career and mission to help others detect and receive health care for this dreaded disease.
The daughter of Lester H. and Dorothy Blattner Ideker, Vergie was born September 14, 1943, in Great Bend, Kansas. Vergie’s great grandfather T.S. Haun was instrumental in the founding of Jetmore, Kansas, and Hodgeman County Kansas.
Along with her brother, Sonny, she grew up on a farm north of Rozel. When reflecting on her formative years and life on the farm, Vergie had many fond memories of family life and good times. She loved the farm life. She became an accomplished pianist after her parents, with their hard work, saved to buy her a piano for which she was eternally grateful. Vergie attended school at Rozel, graduating Salutatorian in her small class. She attended Fort Hays State for two years and then Kansas State University for a semester.
She married Neil Meckfessel and resided on a farm south of Rozel. Two beautiful children, Jason Vernon and Brooke Suzanne, were born to this union. Vergie loved being a mother and was very involved in the lives of her precious children, assisting with pre-school, teaching Sunday school, serving as a Cub Scout leader and 4-H project leader. The children were her everything.
In 1980, tragedy struck. Jason, 13, and Brooke, 5, were killed in a horrific car accident in Wichita, Kansas. Shocked and lost, Vergie visited their graves every day for years and years. She thought her life was over and she would never be happy again. Although there were many good times, her marriage dissolved after the childrens’ accident.
She eventually took a job at Rozel High School as a secretary hoping to help and guide other children and make a difference in their lives. She became known as a “mother” to so many students teaching them right from wrong, cooking, sewing and just being there for them. Many of those children have kept in touch with her to this day. In order to move on with her life, she felt a calling to follow a career of service.
She enrolled in and graduated with a degree in Psychology at St. Mary’s of the Plains College in Dodge City. She was infinitely grateful to Professor James McReynolds who helped her to move
on from the tragic past, guiding her toward social work and showing her the path to help others get through difficult life events.
Her entire family were life-long K-Staters, so when Vergie told them she was enrolling at the University of Kansas to continue her education, they were quite skeptical. Vergie jumped into KU and upon graduation called it her “nirvana”! From 1988-1990, under the direction of her mentor and renowned KU Professor, Dr. Alice Lieberman, Vergie, who was Dr. Lieberman’s first student, flourished and earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work and gained her LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker).
Vergie was honored with a membership into Phi Kappa Phi, one of the most exclusive honor societies which is an interdisciplinary academic organization established in 1897. Only the top five percent of senior classes and the top 10 percent of graduate students are asked to join. In addition, she was named an Esther Twente Scholar for 1989-90 at the University of Kansas, a nationally renowned social award representing the highest academic achievement in the school of the Social Welfare Master’s Program. Vergie was also awarded the Margo Schutz Gordon Award for outstanding achievement in the MSW Foundation Practicum.
Vergie married Mark Anderson, her blue-eyed knight in shining armor from Kinsley, Kansas, in 1990, the same year she graduated from KU. Together they purchased a new home in Kinsley supporting each other in both their difficult pasts and charging into the future to make a difference in people’s lives. They both have been doing this together for 33 years proving Aristotle’s observation that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Mark has been her spiritual foundation and rock. He has been with her on this life and medical journey supporting her from the beginning to the end.
Vergie took her knowledge and degree in Social Welfare back to Western Kansas. She worked for the Iroquois Mental Health Center for over 19 years. She started as a therapist and a nursing home consultant and then Clinical Director for 12 years. As a director, she had to oversee all the coordinators of all the programs and quality management.
In 2007, Vergie had another setback and was diagnosed with breast cancer which turned into a life-long battle. Vergie only knew one thing and that was to attack this head on and to continue to focus on helping others.
After the Greensburg tornado in 2007, she wrote a grant for an informal service for elderly in the area which was called the “coffee shop” and still exists today for people to bond and support each other.
Vergie started a cancer support group in Edwards County for cancer patients and their families. She was instrumental in bringing health care and cancer care and awareness to western Kansas. She began and served on a University of Kansas Breast Cancer Survivorship Program. She became President-Elect of the KU School of Social Welfare Advisory Board and was awarded
“Lady of the Year” from Beta Sigma Phi chapters in western Kansas. After retirement, Vergie continued as a social service consultant and mediator for hospitals, Medicalodge and Life Care Programs.
In 2018, a second cancer appeared and in 2022, Vergie and her husband, Mark, moved to Lawrence to be near her beloved University of Kansas and the many friends she made in Lawrence during her college days. It was also a benefit to be closer to airports, access to MD Anderson in Houston and the excellent health care at KU Cancer Center.
Through all of this, although Vergie had just moved back to Lawrence, she became the driving force behind her Hutton Farms West neighborhood’s newly created social committee. In true “Vergie” spirit, she continued to bring people together in love and friendship.
Her brother Sonny says, “Vergie is just like her Mother, always bringing people together.”
Vergie and her husband, Mark, spent time and service at the Congregational Church in Kinsley, Kansas. Vergie’s and Mark’s faith in God has been paramount in their lives.
Vergie was preceded in death by her parents, her 2 year old sister Lisa Kay Ideker, her infant brother Johnny Ray Ideker and her precious children Jason and Brooke.
Survivors include her husband Mark, her brother Lester, “Sonny” Ideker, Jr. and sister-in-law Janel of Alpharetta, Georgia; her niece Ashley Ideker Charlton and children Hunter, Olivia and Paloma and many, many dear cousins.
Vergie and Mark would like to thank Vergie’s brother and sister-in-law Sonny and Janel Ideker, Lawrence Memorial Hospital Oncology Department, Visiting Nurses, and their many friends and neighbors that supported them.
Vergie has been cremated and her inurnment will be on Saturday, August 5, 2023, at 10:30am. She will be buried next to her children Jason and Brooke at the Garfield, Kansas Cemetery. Following the inurnment, a Celebration of Life will be held at 12 noon at St. Nicholas’s Parish Hall, 706 East 6th St., Kinsley, Kansas. Additionally, a Celebration of Life will be held by her neighbors and friends in Lawrence at a later date.
In lieu of flowers or plants, the family requests memorial donations may be made to the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare Dean’s Opportunity Fund in memory of Vergie Anderson for Jason and Brooke Meckfessel. Mail to: Twente Hall, 1545 Lilac Lane, Lawrence, Kansas 66045 or drop off at the Congregational Church in Kinsley or Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home in Lawrence. Personal condolences may be sent to the family at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence, KS 66044. Please sign the guestbook at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home https://rumsey-yost.com/obituaries.
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