Last updated: April 9, 2012
The Lusk Herald
January 11, 1995
Jeanette Sager selected Senior of the Month
This month's senior citizen has deep historical roots in Niobrara County.
Jeanette Sager, whose parents pioneered the Ord Ranch of which she is still a part, has lived in Niobrara County nearly all her life. She attended school in Lusk until her mother's health required a lower altitude. Her father decided to move his family to the Midwest where many ranchers ere feeding cattle until his wife grew stronger. For six years Sager attended school in Omaha, Neb., where her two elder sisters, Gertrude and Margery, graduated.
She attended high school in Omaha for two years; then her family returned to the ranch. The distance involved made high school impossible for her, so her junior year she was home schooled by her parents. To be admitted to Lusk High School for her senior year, Sager had to pass an examination. She graduated at the age of 16. She will join her classmates for their seventieth class reunion this summer.
Sager received her Associate of Arts degree from Chadron State College, and went to Torrington to teach fourth grade for $105 a month. From that sum she was able to save enough to attend the University of Nebraska, where she remained for a year. After her marriage she never lived close enough to a college or university to pursue a bachelor's degree.
She has one son in Houston, Texas, who recently retired as a vice president of Conoco, a director of Dupont and of Conoco. He had begun his career as a civil and petroleum engineer, after he graduated from the University of Wyoming. When he retired he had charge of the company's Western Hemisphere division.
Sager lived on the family ranch for a while following her marriage; eventually she and her son moved to town to live (with) her mother. Her father had been killed in a horse accident at the ranch and her younger brother died of a ruptured appendicitis. After her mother's death, her eldest sister, Margery, lived with her. When she decided to marry a local man, Sager moved in with her sister and brother-in-law, Gertrude and Roy Chamberlain next to the Ranger Hotel. She still lives in that home.
Since the Chamberlains also owned the Ranger Hotel, Sager also became involved with its operation, an occupation she found very interesting. "The oil men who came to drill a well stayed several weeks in those days. Now I suppose it would only take a day or so," said Sager. She also remembers with delight the night that Jimmy Stewart stayed there.
When Chamberlain purchased the business in 1935, it had been idle for 10 years. Though it had been operative, previously only the first floor and the ground floor had ever been completed. Chamberlain opened each succeeding floor as he completed its construction. "The top floor was completed with beautiful rooms," said Sager. She worked there most of the twenty-come years Chamberlain owned the business.
Sager and her family have always been active in the Congregational church. One of her proudest accomplishments is the part she and her sister Gertrude played in the attainment of the fellowship hall. For two years she served as moderator for the church.
She served P.E.O. in all the local offices, including two terms as president. She also held each state office once, including president in 1960. She enjoyed her membership in Eastern Star and expressed regret that the organization no longer is active in Lusk. She was Matron of the local chapter in 1947.
She also helped with projects for the Stagecoach Museum and was active in Church Women United, which activated the local Meals-on-Wheels project. The group applied for government assistance to activate the system. One of the early difficulties was that the meals were designated only for the ill person in the family and ignored the needs of the primary caregiver, frequently the spouse or the sibling of the invalid, who, by the very nature of his/her responsibilities, also needed the service.
While she lived with the Chamberlains she cared for her uncle who passed away at 92. It was a difficult time for the family, she recalled. When Roy became ill with cancer, she shared nursing responsibilities with her sister. Now her sister is a resident of the Niobrara County Nursing Home, and is presently unable to speak. Each afternoon she spends a couple of hours visiting Gertrude and caring for her. In addition, she does bookwork for various family members, and is anticipating a busy time as the income tax time draws near.
She is amazed at the number of people who ask her age upon meeting her. She heard once one is never old as long as one knows someone older than one's self. "I know two ladies in the nursing home who are over 100," she laughed. "Both Edith Coen and Ocea Iliff used to work for us at the Ranger. So I guess I'm not yet old."
One of her favorite quotations about aging came from Lucille Ball. "The way to stay young is to live honestly, to eat slowly and to lie about your age," quipped Ball. No one with Sager's sense of humor will ever have to worry about aging.
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