Mary Jane Oberhelman, age 97 of Riley, passed away Thursday, March 31, 2022 at Ascension Via Christi in Manhattan.

She was born on September 20, 1924 in Barnston, Nebraska, the daughter of Byron and Julia Octavia (Day) Sailors.  The Sailors family moved from Nebraska to Leonardville in 1928 attending grade school then moved to Riley in 1937 where she finished the 8th grade and later graduated from Riley Rural High School in 1942.

On November 22, 1962, she married Bobby Brice Oberhelman.  He preceded her in death.

Following high school graduation, she traveled to Kansas City during the week for training for jobs that were needed in the war effort and she quickly learned that with little effort, she could become an A.S.A. welder.  She worked in the old American Royal building in the stockyards, welding on lightweight frames for the gliders.  For three years, she was a “Rosie the Riveter.”

After World War II ended in 1945, Mary moved back to Riley for good.  She started working for Claude & Doris Haas in their beauty shop.  In 1948, she purchased the beauty shop from the Haas’.  She continued working full time, while also working at the Wharton Manor Nursing Home in Manhattan, two days a week for 30 years.  It was only recently, she retired at the age of 95.  She served as the Riley City Treasurer for almost 70 years from 1947 until 2016.  She was a member of the Riley United Methodist Church, American Legion Women’s Auxiliary member since the 1940‘s, United Methodist Women and was on the U.S.D. 378 School Board from 1981 until 1989, and contributed to the expansion of the current grade school.

She is survived by one son, Mark Oberhelman and wife Leslie of Manhattan; six grandchildren, Katie Rhodes and husband Tim, Karen Lierz and husband Brent, Kristin Bayes and husband Justin, Billy Engler and wife Amanda, Tanner Oberhelman, and Mitchell Oberhelman and wife Taylor; seven great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her parents; one son, Michael Oberhelman; two brothers, Lot William Sailors and Gordon Sailors, and one sister, Geraldine Frazier.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 9, 2022 at the Anderes-Pfeifley Funeral Home with Pastor Sandy Ferguson officiating.  The family will receive friends from 4:00 until 8:00 p.m. Friday.  Burial will be in the Riley Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Riley United Methodist Church.  Contributions may be left in care of the Anderes-Pfeifley Funeral Home.

To watch a video of Mary Jane speaking on being an A.S.A. welder during World War II, click on this link

Sign up for the KCLY Digital Newspaper, The Regional