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'She was a people person, a lot of her customers became really good friends'

'She was a people person, a lot of her customers became really good friends'

From the The cost of COVID: Remembering lives lost in Southeast Nebraska series
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After her stay-at-home-mom days ended, Orva Samuelson became an Avon lady in Grand Island.

“She was a people person,” said her daughter Janell Schutte. “A lot of her customers became really good friends.”

She loved those customers and her church -- Messiah Lutheran -- and her church family. She loved to walk the Conestoga Mall and stop for coffee at Wendy’s afterward.

She loved to play cards.

She and her husband, Dick, spent their evenings dancing at Pla Mor Ballroom during the early days of their marriage -- and they kept dancing in later years at the Liederkranz in Grand Island.

Dick died in 1999 and, five years ago, the widow broke her hip and ended up in Lincoln to be closer to Janell, her grandchildren and a growing group of her adored great-grandchildren.

She lived at The Lexington and was active for a 95-year-old, but she had weakened lungs after two bouts of pneumonia.

Samuelson died of COVID-19 on May 22 after 12 days at Bryan West Campus.

In an online tribute, a girlhood friend of Janell’s remembered how kind Orva had been to her when their families were neighbors.

“Janell was at school and Orva would come and get me and we would just have an hour or two sitting on the floor playing,” Janet Kreifels wrote. “My mom says she did that so she (my mom) could have a break from me.”

She called her a great neighbor. She said she was “blessed to have known her.” There were more tributes from pew mates at church and friends from Orva’s mall-walking days, who remembered her sense of humor and grace.

On the day Janell’s mom died, a nurse called to tell her the end was close.

They set up a FaceTime visit.

Orva’s eyes were closed, her face looked relaxed and peaceful.

Janell and her husband, Terry, watched on an iPad screen as the nurse took her mother’s hand and began to pray.

-- Cindy Lange-Kubick

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