OBITUARY

Velma Ann McKee

25 December, 194127 December, 2020

Velma Ann Scifres McKee, age 79, died at home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on December 27, 2020 after an extended battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma to Lillian Estell Duff Scifres and Ellis Scifres on December 25, 1941, Velma was preceded in death by her brother, Karl Ellis Scifres, granddaughter, Elizabeth Tatum Barajas, and son-in-law, Scott Waite. She is survived by two sisters, Martha Kay Johanson (Ben) and Ramona Behnke (Lance), and sister-in-law, Kathy Scifres.

Shortly after graduating from high school, she married the love of her life, Tommy (“Tom”) Gordon McKee, and shared 61 joy-filled years together. She is survived by her husband, Tom, six children, Thomas, Susan Waite, Shaun (Jenny), Daniel (Jenn), Zachary, and Tim (Brittany), seventeen grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews and a host of cousins.

As the mother of six children, Velma’s life revolved around her family. She was a beloved mother and a devoted grandmother. A lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she served in many capacities in her church community. But her real passion was volunteering at the Family History Center where she served as director for over twenty years and helped countless people with their genealogical research.

Velma’s ability to serve others and love deeply brought grace and light to all within her circle of influence. Her gentle laughter made us feel kindness and warmth just being in her presence. Her talent for listening with an understanding heart blessed all who knew her. We will miss her.

Services

  • Gathering of Family and Friends

    Friday, 1 January , 2021

  • Graveside Service to Celebrate

    Friday, 1 January , 2021

Memories

Velma Ann McKee

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Michael Johanson

1 January 2021



Today was my Aunt Velma's funeral. She is my Mom's older sister. She passed away on Sunday, December 27. Just 20 days after her younger brother, my Uncle Karl passed away. What I remember most about Aunt Velma is the love she had for the children in her life and the joy she received from them. She raised 6 children, all adopted, that she couldn't have loved any more if she had borne them herself. It was always fun and exciting to be around my McKee cousins. There were always plenty of cousins to play with. And I always felt apart of the family when visiting with Aunt Velma. She also had a way of gently teasing me in a kind way that made me feel that I was noticed and important.

When I was four I had been eating cheetos and drinking red punch. When she saw me she said something like "Michael you have orange fingers and a red mustache, I'm not sure what you are." Then sweetly laughed to let me know that it was all in good fun. When I was 11, my sister, Katie, and I were the last two kids playing on the playground at McDonald's after a stop for lunch on a large family caravan from Tennessee to Georgia. She came out to tell us it was time to go. I quickly said "Come on, Katie", as I headed back inside. I guess I said it so quick that Aunt Velma thought I called her "Kitty". She wasn't about to let me get away we that. She jokingly asked me "Did you call her Kitty?" and laughed.

The last time I saw her was in 2017. She had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and although she still knew me, I could tell that her memory was fading. However, she was still as sweet as ever and I could tell that she still had that love for children. I could tell she loved having all of my 6 kids over for a visit just as she enjoyed her kids, grandkids and nieces and nephews. I loved how she was fascinated with my youngest son's, Andrew, platinum blond hair. We'll miss your sweet sprit, Aunt Velma.

Donna Tennant

30 December 2020

I find myself struggling to record my best memories of Velma, there are just so many. Velma and I were close off and on for the last forty years. Being close in age our health prevented visiting and sharing like we once did. Velma has a good listening ear, very compassionate, and validating AND to boot we had many giggles and deep laughter.

Velma pleaded with me to bring my genealogy over to the library when I told her what a jumbled up bunch of everything and nothing I had collected. I stalled because I was so ashamed of the suitcase full of mess I would have to present her with. I had old newspapers, clippings, dairies, journals, hen scratch on the back of photos, you name it and it was all smashed down to capacity in that case.

One day I pulled myself up to the challenge and drove over to the genealogy library. Much to my surprise I was met with excitement and joy from Velma, anxious to tackle the lot of it. Within an hour or so it was sorted with a "Put this here and that there and throw this away", etc. Such a weight was lifted from me I have no words to express.

To Velma's family I wish you peace and pray many blessings will come your way during this hard time of loss and grieving.

In loving memory of Velma,
Donna

Ramona Behnke

30 December 2020

I can't think of my sis, Velma, without acknowledging the light that she brought to our world and our family from the time of her birth on Christmas Day in 1941.

She's big sis to three of us and I'm privileged to be the youngest in our family. I have always looked up to her, learned from her, and been loved by her. Her death does not change that. Now we have another angel looking over us and loving us.

I will continue to reflect on the lessons she taught me. Some of those I shared as part of a blog post that I wrote in May as part of my #52Stories project for 2020.
https://pleasuresfromthepage.blogspot.com/2020/05/slice-of-life-52-stories-2052-my-sister.html

One of my favorite stories about Velma as a Mama came when I was visiting her in Murfreesboro and Danny, Zach, and Tim were still young boys. They had to empty the trash from every room in the house every day which seemed totally unnecessary to me. When I shared my opinion, Velma responded with these words: "I'm raising boys, not emptying trash."

I've developed a keen interest in family history which I like to think she passed on to me. I remember being with her in the genealogical library in Houston. She shared one of her favorite reasons she loved this work: "Dead people don't talk back!"

Even though she's left this realm, I know she's alive in the spirit world and we'll feel her presence and light and love from time to time. She was that kind of a sister, one who's always watched over us and I know she'll continue doing just that from her heavenly home.

Ramona Behnke

30 December 2020

Our brother, Karl, died on December 7, 2020. But I know he would want to be represented. Here's a FB post he wrote on Christmas Day 2019 to our sister, Velma:
"Happy Birthday today to my "eldest" sister Velma Scifres McKee. She has always been loving and supportive to me and my other two sisters. Since our birthdays are two days apart, we used to celebrate our birthdays together on Christmas Eve. But we haven't been together for a joint celebration in many years. I wish we could have shared a birthday cake yesterday. I love you Velma and hope you had a great day."
I like to think of the belated birthday celebration going on in heaven this year.
In a comment to that post, Karl shared a favorite pic of the four of us on the couch and these words:
"She has always been our "big" sister who watched over us."

Mike & Sue Forrester

29 December 2020

i spent a lot time with Velma in the Family History Center over the many years. We have missed seeing her over the past few years. We are grateful to have been associated with her in this life. Love you Velma.
Mike and Sue Forrester

From the Family
From the Family

Biography

Velma Ann Scifres McKee, age 79, died at home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on December 27, 2020 after an extended battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Born in Lawton, Oklahoma to Lillian Estell Duff Scifres and Ellis Scifres on December 25, 1941, Velma was preceded in death by her brother, Karl Ellis Scifres, granddaughter, Elizabeth Tatum Barajas, and son-in-law, Scott Waite. She is survived by two sisters, Martha Kay Johanson (Ben) and Ramona Behnke (Lance), and sister-in-law, Kathy Scifres.

Shortly after graduating from high school, she married the love of her life, Tommy (“Tom”) Gordon McKee, and shared 61 joy-filled years together. She is survived by her husband, Tom, six children, Thomas, Susan Waite, Shaun (Jenny), Daniel (Jenn), Zachary, and Tim (Brittany), seventeen grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews and a host of cousins.

As the mother of six children, Velma’s life revolved around her family. She was a beloved mother and a devoted grandmother. A lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she served in many capacities in her church community. But her real passion was volunteering at the Family History Center where she served as director for over twenty years and helped countless people with their genealogical research.

Velma’s ability to serve others and love deeply brought grace and light to all within her circle of influence. Her gentle laughter made us feel kindness and warmth just being in her presence. Her talent for listening with an understanding heart blessed all who knew her. We will miss her.