Farewell Aleta

Friday, October 27, 2006

Aleta at the River City Mixed Chorus Concert In Omaha on June 18, 2006. Photo by Mary Robbins, provided by Sharon Arnold

Aleta Fenceroy 12/27/1948 - 9/23/2006

As most, if not all of you know, Aleta has been battling cancer since she was diagnosed on June 15th of this year. I was blessed to be with Aleta at the end of her life. She died at home, in a hospital bed that I had set up in the dining room next to a big window so that she could look out at the garden. She lived just over 3 months after she was diagnosed with cancer, but she had many good days. Aleta died peacefully in the company of friends and family who loved her. She had wonderful visits with her two children, Michelle and J.J., who flew in from Phoenix and Africa respectively. She was able to read to her granddaughters, Chloe and Ella, and hold the newest addition, little Teaghan.

And even though this was a terrible situation, we were able to take so many good things from it. The incredible support and love we felt from friends close by and far away really sustained us. We grew closer to each other and to our families. We found humor and learned lessons of courage and compassion from fellow cancer patients and their families. We learned to enjoy the little moments that make our days and our lives so precious.

Aleta raised two children on her own, a single mom on welfare, working part-time and going to college to earn a Master of Music Degree. She graduated from Morningside College in Sioux City, IA and received her Masters at the University Of Minnisota, in Minneapolis. She was a church organist for 30 years, 4 of which were spent in Norway. She worked for the State of Iowa Department of Corrections for over 15 years before going back to school to earn an Associates Degree in computer programming in 1998. She then took a job in Omaha, Nebraska with First Data Resources as an analyst/programmer and software writer. She LOVED her job. She loved solving puzzles, following trails and picking up clues and that was her favorite part of being a programmer.

She was dogged in her pursuit of answers at work and that is how she was in most aspects of her life. When she sunk her teeth into something, she didn't let go. Hence, 8 years of "Fenceberry Articles." Hour upon hour and day upon day were spent on the home computer. Aleta was determined to hunt down the story; to get the news out; to defend her community; and to right the wrongs to the best of her ability. And she did it with love, wit, dignity and charm. That is the way she lived her life and that is the way she died.

She will be terribly missed. She is terribly missed.

A memorial celebration of her life has been planned and arrangements will be finalized when her son knows on which dates he will be in Omaha. There will be no funeral. Aleta requested there be no flowers. Anyone wishing to make a donation should write a check to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jean Mayberry - forever and proudly the berry half of the Fenceberry Family