Virgil Edward Zade passed away unexpectantly at his home in Red Cloud, Nebraska on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. He entered the world at the family home in the community of Thornburg in Smith County, Kansas on December 6, 1936 as the eldest child of Edward and Ketturah (Lain) Zade. Soon after his birth the family moved to Red Cloud where Virgil’s father accepted a position with the railroad and became foreman of the roundhouse. The birth of three daughters completed the family unit. Virgil attended the Red Cloud Schools and graduated with the class of 1955. Owing to his quickness, speed, determination, positive attitude, and team spirit, Virgil was recognized for excelling in sports, especially football and track. Following graduation, he worked at the Seymour Packing Company in Red Cloud for Herb and Lucille Archer.
In 1957 Virgil enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Following boot camp, he was sent to Norman, Oklahoma where he received preparatory schooling to become a naval aviation electrician. This was followed by additional schooling and trainings in Jacksonville, Florida; McGuire AFB in New Jersey; and Camp Pendleton in California. The various stints completed his certification to be an aviation electrician specializing in jet fighter planes. Virgil was then assigned to the famed carrier, U.S.S. Midway, and reported to assignments in Hawaii, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Guam. While in Hong Kong, the Midway and its crew were called to emergency action off the coast of southeast Asia. His last stint in the Pacific was served in Japan where he completed his military obligations and was honorably discharged.
Following his discharge, Virgil utilized the GI bill and attended technical college in Denver for further training in the area of electronics. After graduation, he continued to work in Denver and in 1962 was married to Dorothy Holslin. They moved to Anoka, Minnesota where Virgil became the service manager of an electronics establishment. He eventually started his own electronics sales service business. After selling his business, his career took him to Morris, Minnesota where he retired. Dorothy passed away in 2000.
Virgil returned to his hometown in 2000 where he became reacquainted with his high school sweetheart, Harriett Yost DeLay. They were married in 2002 and continued to live in Red Cloud. Always ready to stay busy, he continued to work. He assisted at the Red Cloud Chief and later took a position in maintenance for the Red Cloud Housing Authority from which he retired in 2020.
Virgil was a longtime and very active member of the Red Cloud United Methodist Church where he served in multiple capacities and on several church boards. He was a dedicated member of the Red Cloud Lions Club and for several years was top salesman of the annual peach sales. This earned him the nickname, “Peaches.” Virgil also volunteered and participated in various community activities which ranged from host duties at the Red Cloud Opera House to assisting with school enrichment activities. His quick wit and cheerful disposition ensured his presence was always welcome. Virgil enjoyed fishing and coffee times with friends. He loved animals, honored friendships, and cherished drives along the backroads of his native community.
Virgil was also preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Sharon Dedrick and Cheryl Johnson, and stepson, Jim DeLay. Survivors include his wife, Harriett; stepchildren, Jani (Dave) Gentry, JoLynn (Brad) Ballou, and Jerry (Peggy) DeLay; six step-grandchildren; three step-great-grandchildren; sister, Glenda Quig; and numerous nieces, nephews, and dear friends.
Funeral services were Monday, 1:30 pm, February 1, 2021 at the First United Methodist Church in Red Cloud with the Rev. Bonnie McCord officiating.
Interment with military honors was at the Red Cloud Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the First United Methodist Church.
Submitted by Pastor Warren Schoming:
“Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone ...” [from the opening line of the song “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor]
Author and theologian Carl Frederick Buechner wrote something like (and I might be paraphrasing) -
“How do we tell the story of our lives? How do we tell the story of the life we were born into and the life that was born in us? How do we tell that story?”
Yesterday morning I was notified that my dear friend, former Red Cloud neighbor, and faithful church member had died unexpectedly in his sleep.
His wife was my church pianist/keyboardist and dear friend, too. When I talked to her, I could feel the hole and weight of grief she was experiencing.
Virgil was a great storyteller! We had a church coffee group that would meet weekly at The Village Pharmacy and Virgil was always ready to share and/or spin a story or two. His stories were always engaging and quiet humorous. If he didn’t begin a story by saying: “Now, this is a true story” ... watch out because the coffee group would be getting hoodwinked or legs pulled!
There was one story we never did get to the bottom of - it was a particular story that took place in a community a few miles west of Red Cloud. That story is shrouded in mystery and the secret left to our imaginations! I think that’s the way Virgil intended it to be. You know, like all stories of lost things that should perhaps be left untold - or left to be forgotten or perhaps forgiven.
But Virgil lived and loved life to the fullest! His life was always voiced in the stories he told and it would shine like the beam in his eyes and the reflection gleaming from the top of his bald head.
My prayer for Virgil is this:
“Eternal and gracious God, this is a true story because you are the creator of our stories just as you are the dream weaver of all our adventures and visions.
As we mourn the loss of Virgil, may we remember the connection of your story to all our stories. May we remember that your story, like Virgil’s, is a true story and it is weaved into our stories. May we know that your love is the most amazing story - the story that is everlasting and true.
We thank you for the gift of Virgil’s life and story! We thank you for his genuine self and his pleasant and fun filled spirit.
May we always hold his story close to our hearts just as you will always hold him in your eternal safekeeping.
Bless his family and friends, bring Harriett comfort and spiritual support and wellbeing, and give his church community an increased appreciation for communion with you.
Loving God, just as you have blessed us with Virgil’s life, may we remember how Virgil has blessed us with his gift of storytelling.
In the name of the greatest story ever told, your Son, Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen”
Virgil Zade, died 1/27/21
Williams Funeral Home
241 West 4th Avenue
Red Cloud, Nebraska 68970
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