Mildred “Millie” A. VanDeventer, 89, formerly of Humboldt, Nebraska was born at home to Helen and Frank Oenbring in rural Baileyville, Kansas. She was the eighth of ten children. As a young child, Millie spent the summers living with her Grandma Mathewson. There she learned to cook, sew and garden. Her love for music, reading and nature were fostered here as well.
When it was time for Millie to go to high school, her father thought that this was unnecessary for girls. With the support of her brother, Vern, she graduated from Pawnee City High School. She had to board in town as a housekeeper and babysitter to pay her way. Upon graduation, Millie moved to Lincoln, where she became secretary to the director of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. This was where her love of politics and public service was born.
Millie married Joe Beutler in May of 1955. They lived in Lincoln until 1961, when they moved to an acreage on the edge of Humboldt. Joe farmed and did auto body work, while Millie was a mother and homemaker. She loved to cook large dinners and a myriad of Christmas candies for her family and friends. The couple welcomed three children into their family: Valerie, Thomas and Daniel.
Their life together ended in April 1968, when Joe died from brain cancer. Millie became a widow at 34, consumed with grief and a fierce commitment to raise their three children. Soon she was offered the position of city clerk for Humboldt, which she held for many years. As city clerk, Millie helped shepherd the physical and fiscal health of the city, was a friend to the poor and elderly and ensured the town’s pool was open for kids. She was a member of the Nebraska League of Municipalities and worked to keep abreast of the law and opportunities. Millie was recognized by the League for her many years of service.
In April 1975, Millie married Walter “Van” VanDeventer. He was a true anchor to the family. They were able to finish raising the family and travel until his passing in 2009. Millie and Van were fixtures in Humboldt. He owned Van’s Tavern while she reigned over City Hall two doors away. They also enjoyed the time they spent with their grandchildren: Marcus, Maggie, Janelle and Alison. They remained close to Joe’s parents, Leonard and Anna Beutler, until the final days of their lives.
Millie shattered the glass ceiling in Humboldt when she was elected mayor. Those elderly ladies she looked after remembered her at the polls. She became the first woman to achieve this post. After her retirement, Millie broke a second glass ceiling: She was voted “King” of the Richardson County Fair.
Millie passed away on Monday, February 20, 2023, at the Aviva Woodlands Care Facility in Lincoln, Nebraska having reached the earthly age of eighty-nine years, nine months and thirteen days. She was preceded in death by her parents and husbands Joe Beutler and Walter VanDeventer.
Memorial Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, 2023, at the Wherry Mortuary, 207 N. Nemaha Street in Humboldt, Nebraska with Pastor Dorothy Smith officiating. A reception will follow services at the Ag Building in Humboldt. Inurnment will be at the Humboldt Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials contributions are suggested to HTRS Public School Foundation, Box 661, Humboldt, NE 68376. A scholarship fund for a local student to pursue higher education will be established.
Condolences can be shared online at www.wherrymortuary.com
Services entrusted to Wherry Mortuary-207 Nemaha St.-Humboldt, NE 68376 (402) 862-2915
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mildred "Millie" A. (Oenbring) VanDeventer, please visit our floral store.