A BEAUTIFUL LIFE
By: John H Dumke Sr. Her grateful husband
NITA RAYE DUMKE
March 5, 1942- October 16, 2020, 7:00 pm
April 15, 1966, on our honeymoon
I am going to tell you the life story of the most beautiful lady I have ever known, who God placed in my life for my growth and betterment, and into the lives of so many more people, including our wonderful children. She showed us what it means to love unconditionally, to be a blessing to others, an encouragement to all she met, and an example of a life well lived. Did she ever make a mistake? Yes. None of us are perfect, only Jesus; but she loved the Lord and me her husband, and her children, both born and adopted, (she adopted 3 of my 4 living children), our parents plus other relatives, and her friends. She showed and lived the unconditional love Jesus told and taught us to show.
She had difficulties from the time of childhood, until the day she graduated to Heaven. But then, don’t we all? She taught us that it was not the difficulties that matter, it is how we deal with them that shows our real character.
Susan and Nita cute kids
Sister Susan and Nita beautiful ladies
The last two years of her time on earth were filled with pain. She was in and out of the hospital almost every month. She had to be helped to walk, to sit down, to get up, and pretty much any thing she wanted to do. She had always loved shopping, especially at Talbots, where she had worked for 20 years, working her way up to manager of one of their stores, and Von Maur. The last time we went to Von Maur I had to take her around in a wheelchair, yet she enjoyed looking through the clothes, knowing that she would never be able to buy or wear them again only look and remember the times when she did buy and wear them.
The last few weeks she prayed with me daily, we read the 91st Psalm together every night, as well as other Scriptures, and just spent the time, praying for healing, but leaving it all in God’s hands. I also read the reports from people who had “near death experiences” in Pastor John Burke’s book, “Imagine Heaven.” I believe it was done to prepare her for her graduation to eternity. On Wednesday, the 14th of October 2020, when we went to bed, after our Bible reading and prayer time, I told God I was releasing my hold on her, because of the great pain she was experiencing, and the physical deterioration that was taking its toll. Our daughter Stephanie came from Aspen Colorado to see her on Thursday the 15th, and they had time to visit and hug. It was as if Nita did not want to leave until she could hold and love Stephanie, her one and only daughter who she loved so much, one more time. The other children, John Jr., Bradford, and James live close and came to visit often, and Christopher, our youngest who lived with us, and now lives with me, (thank you Lord for Chris, I need him so very much right now). But Stephanie and she, needed to say so long, until we meet again in Heaven, for both their sakes.
That was good for many reasons. While she was here, Stephanie helped me when Nita was put in a hospital bed in the great room, and I slept on the couch next to her, in case she needed something, day or night. Because when Nita needed help, Stephanie was there to help me.
Then came Friday, the 16th of October 2020. Stephanie was working in the kitchen, just a few feet from her Mom, and talked to her often. She sat by her and reminisced about their lives and love for each other when she wasn’t cooking. Later I went to pick up some food for us for dinner, and just before I got back, I received a call from Stephanie, telling me Mom had stopped breathing. She went on to call her brothers who came over right away. I got home to be with her as she breathed her last and at 7:00pm CST, Nita’s Angels carried her to Heaven to be with her Lord and savior Jesus Christ, forever.
During this most difficult time for Beautiful Nita Raye, I never heard her complain. She just did the best she could, under the circumstances. That was Nita. She would say, “I will do my best and let God do the rest.”
“God willing, I will see you and be with you soon, Beautiful Lady!”
Your grateful husband and best friend, John
Ps: God arranged it so that Stephanie stayed an extra week to be with me, to comfort all of us, and to be at Nita’s Memorial service where we celebrated her life and love.
I want to thank Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, for granting me these wonderful years with His daughter, Nita Raye. I have always felt that this gift was second only to His gift of salvation. And I know our life together is not over, just suspended for a while, until I fulfill my assignment here on earth and we are united again for all eternity. Hallelujah!
I dedicate this book to Nita Raye and her great love for me, her family, and friends.
I thank Sarah Jenkins for all her work in layout, selection of pictures and general advice on content. You are a blessing.
Nita surprised by my early arrival for our wedding day.
Segment 1: Nita’s life before we met March 5, 1942-November 27, 1966
Segment 2: We meet and her thoughts. my proposal, her response
Segment 3: Our wedding and beginning in St. Jo MO
Segment 4: Our move to Omaha, and the birth of our son, Christopher John.
Segment 5: My position with Westinghouse, my children coming to live with us.
Segment 6: The raising years and Nita’s commitment.
Segment 7: Nita managing the breeding and raising of racehorses.
Segment 8: Moving to Arlington, NE on our own acreage with her own horse.
Segment 9: our move back to Omaha, Nita’s career in sales
Segment 10: Our perfect home, after I got home.
Segment 11: Enjoying each other and our family.
Segment 12: Our final move, and Nita’s graduation.
Segment 13: Comments from the kids..
Nita’s life before we met. March 5, 1942-Friday November 26, 1965.
Over the years I have heard the stories from family members of Nita’s childhood, how she never liked the fact that she was a little “chubbier” than her baby sister, Susan, born less than a year after Nita. Her Dad called her his “chubby little girl.” She decided in her teens that she was sick of being “fat” and would lose weight and be stylish like her sister Susan. And she did. That was Nita, all her life: decide what to do, and do it!
At 19 years of age, having graduated near the top of her class in Onawa IA High School, she was off to college in Lincoln Nebraska. Her boyfriend from high school, Oliver Irwin, was not happy about attending college in Yankton South Dakota, and having to drive to Lincoln Nebraska to see her, but he did it often. Then she got pregnant, they got married, she left college and they moved to Yankton. Within 2 years she and her son, Bradford, left an abusive marriage, got a divorce, and moved back home with her parents in Humboldt, Iowa.
I must add something here. I am always amazed at how God, in His sovereignty, moves us to where He wants us to be, for His will to be done. Watch this.
Nita’s father was promoted to a new position with Westinghouse Appliance Sales, and they moved from Humboldt Iowa, to, Moline, Illinois in 1965. Nita took a job with a direct sales company in Bettendorf, Iowa just across the river from Moline, as their receptionist. She also did the promotional mailing for the company.
Where was I?
By now I had gotten a divorce, after having fathered 5 children. I had a management position with Encyclopedia Britannica in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Then the company decided to change the marketing system and we managers were caught in the middle, having to pay for what turned out to be a failed program. It cost us a lot of money, and I was looking for something different.
God intervened. Out of the blue I received a call from the younger brother, Jim Swanson, of a man I had worked for a few years earlier. We made a deal, and I was sent to get my training at the facility in, where else, Bettendorf Iowa, the office where Nita Raye worked!
We meet and her thoughts.
At 7:00pm, November 26, 1965, I walked into the office to meet my trainer, and there I saw a beautiful girl. I thought she was a teenager, she looked so young and perfect. I was with my finance and being the forceful guy, I always tried to be, I told the “girl” I was there to see the manager, and that he was expecting me. She told me he was busy with a customer. I said, “Well tell him John Dumke is here to see him!” She did, and I talked briefly with the manager then we left, set to start my training the following Monday morning. The young girl, Nita, went home that night and told her mother that she did not think she could work there if that “pompous ass” was going to there too!
I moved to Bettendorf over that weekend and began my training on Monday November 29th 1965, and began to interact with Nita, the “girl” in the front. When I was not watching the manager make a sales presentation, or was not making one myself, there was nothing to do, so I would help Nita with the mailing duties, and we would talk. The first thing I noticed was how highly intelligent she was. I had been raised in an environment of men talking about farming or business things in the living room, while the women were in the kitchen talking about raising the children, cooking, gardening, and having to put up with the odd thing’s men wanted to talk about in the other room.
Now, here was this lady, (by then I had been informed that she was 23 years old with a 4-year-old son and was engaged to be married to a college student who lived in Humboldt, IA), who was smarter than I was, knew more about any subject we came up with than I did, and that blew me away, and besides, she was exceptionally beautiful, yet did not realize it!
Years later when I called her beautiful, which I did all the time, and still do, she would say, “You have special eyes.” I would say, “No, you are beautiful, but God hid that from you so you wouldn’t be overtaken in pride.” I still believe that.
So, from the 29th day of November 1965, until the 15th day of December 1965, we interacted every workday, and I was falling in love with Nita Raye.
My relationship with my finance was waning due to her not wanting to be involved with raising my children, which I always thought was a real possibility, as the task was becoming too much for my former wife.
What is so special about the 15th of December? It is the day I proposed! So, here is how it went.
You are going to love this!
We were talking about life, or whatever, and I made a comment about her. I do not remember what I said, but her response was, “What are you saying to me John?”
Here was my great salesman opening line! I said, “I believe we could get married today and never regret it!”
She said, “You are crazy!”
I said, “You get rid of your guy over the holidays, and I will get rid of my girl, and I will start to court you like a proper gentleman on the 2nd day of January 1966.”
As a salesman, all I could do was wait. I needed to let it all sink in.
Once again, God started opening and closing doors. Amazing!
At Christmas time my finance and I picked up my children in Waterloo, Iowa, and took them to Twin Lakes Wisconsin to visit their grandparents, my folks. While we were there, two significant things happened. First, my mother took me aside and told me she did not think this girl I was involved with was right for me. I told her that she was right, but that I had met the girl of my dreams. Second, I received a call from my ex-wife informing me that our first child, Steven Allen, who had been at Woodward State Epileptic Hospital, had died. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and had lived the last six years of his life in that facility. I called the hospital made all the arrangements for a memorial service on the 28th of December, and we took the kids home and went back to Bettendorf. My fiancé and I came to an agreement that it was best for us to go our separate ways.
I stopped at the office and told my trainer and Nita that I would be gone for a couple of days due to Steven’s passing. When Nita heard where I was going, she asked if I would take her and her son along and take them to Humboldt Iowa, so she could see her long-time girlfriend, and her fiancé. I said “Sure.” Of course, I was hoping she would dump him.
When the service for Steven was over, I headed for Humboldt with Nita and Bradford, her son.
Here is another one of those “God” things!
As we were driving, in my brand-new Candy Apple Red Ford Mustang, Brad vomited on the floor in the back seat. I am sure, Nita thought, “Oh great! What is John going to do? How will he react?”
I pulled off to the side of the road, stopped the car, got out, took off my shirt and my undershirt, then wiped it all up with the undershirt, tossed that aside, put my outer shirt back on and got back in the car, and continued our trip without saying a word about the incident. Nita and I started up a new conversation as if nothing had happened.
I think that was the moment she knew we were meant to be.
You are so good, God!
On the 2nd of January 1966, when I came into the office, I said to Nita, “Well, did you get rid of John, (Yes, his name was John also, in fact I was known as John #2 by her parents for quite a while), She said “Yes”, and I said, “Good, I got rid of Gale, so I will be at your parents home after work tonight to start courting you!” And I was. While there she took me around to see the house, and while away from her parents, she reached up, took my head, and kissed me! That sealed the deal.
From that day until we got married on April 14, 1966, I took Nita to see my parents and set the date for them to come to Bettendorf so my Dad, a pastor, could perform the ceremony. We went to Waterloo so she could meet my children, and besides working together until I was transferred to St Joseph Missouri the first part of February 1966 to run my own office, we had one real date. I came back to Bettendorf every weekend but one, to see her. On my first trip back, Nita’s Mom let me sleep on the couch, then when she and I were having coffee, before Nita joined us, Leone, her mom, said, “I am sorry John, you never see me in anything but my housecoat.” I said, “Don’t worry, I will see you all dressed up soon.” She said, “What are you saying?” I said, “I think this is a good time to set a wedding date!” She said, “What!” About that time Nita came into the room and I said,” Next week when I come, I would like to take you to meet my folks and set a wedding date.” She said, “OK.” And so, it was. Thank you, Lord!
Our wedding and beginning in St. Joseph, Missouri
April 14th, 1966 was a beautiful day, it was a sunny, no wind, a perfect day for a wedding of two young and in love people.
My parents, Rev. Allen, and Mae Dumke, with my brother David, came to Bettendorf, Iowa for the ceremony. David stood up for me. Nita’s cousin Patti Taylor stood up for her, and Dad preformed the ceremony.
They all came to town the night before, and we went out to eat, then retired to the Motel to await the “special” day. We got up the next morning, had breakfast somewhere, and waited till the 1:00PM ceremony. While I waited the thought keep coming to my mind: “What if she doesn’t show up?” Why would I think that? Well, neither my parents nor hers thought this marriage would last! After all, we had not known each other very long, and besides, we had both had a failed marriage before. What no one realized that Nita was my “Bersherah”, and I was her “Bershit.” In Hebrew antiquity that meant we were each other’s soul mate; we were ordained from the foundation of the world to be together as husband and wife. If you married someone else, it was believed, the marriage would fail! In my book “The Majesty, The Mystery, and The Mission of Marriage”, which I wrote in honor of Nita and our great love for each other, I go into greater detail.
Well, she did show up with her parents, her son, Bradford, and her Bridesmaid, I was so relieved!
After the ceremony we went back to Nita’s parents’ home, had our cake and, oh yes; Dad had to redo the marriage vows with us because although he was a licensed pastor in Wisconsin and Illinois, where Nita’s parents lived, he was not licensed in Iowa. Fun.
Leaving for honeymoon
Then we got our things together to go on our Honeymoon in Chicago. From Thursday night through Sunday morning, we had a fun time. We went to a museum, saw a live play, and just enjoyed each other.
Sunday morning, we headed back to Moline Illinois to pick up Bradford and then drove to our residence in St. Joseph Missouri, to start our new life together.
We move to Omaha, Nebraska and Christopher was born.
The company I worked for and had moved to St. Joseph for, had some financial difficulties, closed their doors and We moved to Omaha, Nebraska on July 4th, 1966. I went back to work for Encyclopedia Britannica.
Nita never complained or criticized me. Beautiful Lady!
God knew that was not where He wanted me to be working, so He whispered in Nita’s fathers’ ear to help me get a job with Westinghouse Appliance Sales. So, in January 1967 I started my career with them. Here is another “God” thing!
Since I had 4 children now living with their mother in a rocky relationship, and Nita had one child, we really didn’t want any more children, and thought we had taken care to assure us of our decision, since, as Nita’s mother had predicted, “You know, Nita, you will probably end up having to raise John’s kids!”
Then, guess what? Nita became pregnant 9 days after we married! Christopher, our son figured that out for us. Chris was born on January 26, 1967, the day before I was required to leave on a two-week training session in Columbus Ohio for my new company, Westinghouse. Nita’s mother, Leone, bless her heart, came to stay with Nita until I got home, and her dad came to visit on the weekends. What great people! Very loving and caring, as I would learn over the years.
So why was Christopher a “God” thing?
Because God knew 28 years later, he would be the one to move in with his mother, and share what he was earning with her, and help comfort her, when I was away for 3 years and 6 months, and 1 day. You can read all about that in my book “The Human Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.” And he would be the one to live with us while Nita lived out her final day here on earth. And he now lives with me, what a blessing!
But wait, I am getting ahead of the story.
Back in those days, when you worked for a major company like Westinghouse, who were provided with a car, 100% paid health insurance for you and your family, but your salary was low. So, Nita took a sales job to help. That was so Nita, see a problem, do what you can to solve it.
My children coming to live with us.
In the Fall of 1971, my oldest daughter started telling me about the difficulties they, their mother, and the children, were going through, and that the children really needed to have a more stable home. When I told Nita about the situation she said, “Well, they better come live with us.” I made the arrangements and picked them up the day after Thanksgiving, 1971. We couldn’t handle all four at once so my parents, then living in Peterson, Iowa, took Stephanie and James until the next summer, after school was out, and we took Kim and John Jr. home to live with us. We had to solve a space problem. We had to buy a house that could handle 6 children and 2 adults.
A quick side note here, showing how God intervenes for a purpose. My mother loved to cook and bake. While Stephanie was living with them, my mother taught her everything she knew and gave her a love for preparing food. Preparation! Stephanie, and her husband John Swim own and operates Aspen Caterers in Aspen Colorado and have for over 30 years. Stephanie does all the baking and a good deal of the other food preparation. So, we see why God arranged for Stephanie to learn and love cooking while living with her grandmother. Amazing!
Just for fun, let’s look at the ages of our family when this all occurred. I was 31, Nita was 29, Kim was 13, Stephanie was 12, John Jr. and Bradford were 10, James was 9 and Christopher was 4, soon to be 5. Commadore, our Irish Setter was 3.
Family vacation 1975
Now here we go with another “God” thing. A couple years before a friend helped me buy a rental house, as well as get a real estate license.
So now, we found a 5-bedroom house in a nice neighborhood, and since the people were trying to sell it on their own, I stepped in as the agent, and we moved in with virtually no down payment! Wow! And we were approved for our loan although the monthly payment was $350 and my salary was only $850.00, because we owned other property. Thank you, Lord!
We moved into our new home on 99th street, Omaha Nebraska, the Spring of 1972. Stephanie and James joined Kim and John Jr and us and now we had this new life together, and everything was fine. Nope.
I started buying houses to either rent or fix up and sell, and that helped with our finances. My salary at Westinghouse was not enough to support the whole family, so God stepped in to “provide all we needed for life and Godliness!”
Nita made another major decision. She had maintained her selling job up till now but saw that we could not raise all these children without good consistent parenting. So, she quit her job, because as she put it, “The children must know that someone is at home all the time, and that I am expecting them to come home after school, not go running around getting into trouble. And when school is out, they have to know I expect them to stay close and let me know what they are doing and where they are going.” She got them involved in summer baseball and would go to each of their games, sometimes watching one child’s game for one inning, then go to the next child’s game, etc. She got them involved in other activities like swimming in the area pool to keep them busy and motivated, and out of trouble. We had seen other parents who took the position of allowing the kids to raise themselves as they both worked full time jobs. She was not going to let that happen to her children. Period! And that is how she saw all the children, her children. Her mother and father had the same opinion. They would have each child, one at a time, come over to their home and spend a weekend. They showed them each, they were loved. Now we know where Nita learned to love unconditionally.
Through out the time that we were raising all these children, Nita showed her incredible love by not just telling them what to do, but by being involved in their lives and loving them. Since our children are now all grown with children of their own, they make comments about how blessed they are to have been raised by their loving Mom, and what a difference it made in their lives and the way they raised their children.
Back to the story. The first year of adopting and working on raising all these kids was a tough one. My oldest daughter decided she didn’t like having to help with everything, so she called her maternal grandparents and told them we were abusive, and she wanted to come live with them. They waited until I was out of town on business, came into our home, and rushed her out the door leaving Nita aghast and in tears. Back in those days, we didn’t have cell phones, so all Nita could do was call the motel I was staying at and leave a message and wait. When I arrived at the motel, I called her, heard what had happened, and left for home immediately.
Nita and I discussed the situation, then made a decision. The children could not continue to live in this kind of uncertainty. They had lived with their maternal grandparents, then their mother, then back to the grandparents, now with us, with an uncertain future. I had a friend who was an attorney, I explained the situation, and we set in motion the plan to have Nita adopt my remaining 3 children, Stephanie, John Jr, and James, and I would adopt Nita’s son, Bradford. I did not know where their birth mother lived, so we could not notify her of the proceedings. We got it done, or should I say, “God got it done!”.
When the children got up the morning of the adoption hearing, we told them we were going to the courthouse and settle the issue once and for all, as to where they were going to live until they graduated High School by adopting them, and that included me adopting Bradford.
We completed the adoptions then when we came home, Stephanie called her birth mother and told her what we had done, and she wanted to talk to me, RIGHT NOW! I knew she lived in town because she and her boyfriend would come to take the children out for fun things to do occasional. But I did not have an address, so we were able to adopt without her permission because I did not know how to contact her. When I talked to her, I said simply that what Nita and I had decided. The children needed a stable and consistent home, not one that was changing constantly. And, now that was settled, and she could come, get the children anytime she wanted for a sleep over or fun times, but they will live with us until they have grown up.
An interesting note, in 2020, after Nancy, their birth mother, had moved back to Omaha to be close to the family after her husband died. She was included in all our family gatherings, because as Nita and I told the children, “She is family, so she should be included in all our functions.” Once again. Nita was the one who insisted on her inclusion. At one of the gatherings, Nancy reached up and pulled my head down and whispered, “I just want you to know, it was best for the children for you and Nita to raise them. You did a wonderful job.” Yes, Nita did! Ok, I helped.
As I am writing this, our son John Jr called me. We had a nice discussion about current events, then I told him I was working on the book, which got us thinking and talking about mom, (Nita), and all she did in raising and teaching the kids about living a good life and taking responsibility for your actions. John said in thinking about her, “I don’t think I would be where I am today without her. I saw how a person should live a good and Godly life, and how we all should help other people perhaps with advice or even money, when needed.”
Stephanie has told us how mom taught her how to live for and love the family God has given us for this short time on earth. There will be awards in Heaven for showing His love to others. There was one moment in time that was so special none of us will ever forget it. Stephanie came to visit us, oh maybe 10 years ago, and she and Nita were in the kitchen doing some cooking, when almost on cue, both, at the same instant, turned to each other, threw their arms around the other and said in unison, “Oh I love you so much!” Think maybe that was another “God” moment?
Bradford, as her first “birthed” child, always felt she was the most wonderful mother ever, (his words), and would do anything at any time for her even as an adult son, he always treated her like a loving son should.
James, although a little quieter than the others, saw the incredible love she expressed to him, and we saw him show that to his wife and children.
Now we come to Christopher, the one and only child who came from Nita and me. He made a comment to me the other day. He said, “Only two times did mother ever say she was disappointed in me. I never forgot that and always tried to do better.” What a great teacher!
The raising years and Nita’s commitment.
In 1975 after I was elected president of our local PTA, our school district got involved in the “busing issue.” As PTA President of our school , I was very involved in the meetings and decisions. Then, I was voted in as president of our committee, and was involved in meetings almost every night. In fact the Omaha World Hearld interviwed Nita about the fact that I was always busy, and never home. She told them it was important for the childrens sake. That was Nita, first the children, then us.
The committee reached a decision that in Omaha, it was better for us not to intigrate with a massive bussing program to avoid a situation of not having the parents involved with their education. The decision was sent to the courts and ended up in a district court in Saint Louis Missouri, where they overturned our decision and ordered us to start a bussing plan. There were PTA meetings after that, and after hearing the problems other cities were having, Nita and I decided to move out of the school district for the children’s sake.
At the last PTA meeting I got up and spoke. Of course, I did! What I stated was interesting. I argued the point that this would destroy the close parent-school relationship that was the foundation of our great education system. What is so interesting is my argument was the same one used by the Black community 20 years later when they wanted to change back so the parents could be involved in their children’s education. Then started what I call the chose a school program.
So, we moved to Ginger Cove, a lake side community outside of Valley Nebraska the Summer of 1976. Our children graduated from the Valley School, all but Christopher, who graduated Burke High in Christopher. Before we moved againn.
At Ginger Cove
What is so amazing in all of this, is Nita stood by my side through all the turmoil. And she was the guiding force for the development of good character in each of our children. While I was trying to keep the money coming in, she was developing good and godly children.
Here we go again!
At this time, I was trying to manage our multi-faceted businesses, including many rental properties, an Employment Agency, a retail electronics and appliance store and a wholesale electronics operation. When suddenly, without warning our bank decided to cancel our credit line and demand payment. I went to several other banks with my CPA showing all the property we owned, now 26 pieces of property including one apartment building, and our good credit. Each time and when we left the bank, they all said, no problem we will loan you what you need. In every case the following day after talking to the first bank, they turned us down without an explanation. We went to the SBA, and were told, “looks good,” only to be tuned down again. I was devastated! I could not eat, I lost weight, I could not sleep I was so distressed. Then late one night, when I could not sleep, I sat up in bed and decided to read the book my SBA man, Dick Bushnell, gave me, “How to Live Like a Kings Kid, by Harold Hill”. I put it down about 2:30 in the morning and prayed, “Lord, I do not think I need to ask you to come into my heart again, I did that when I was 7 years old, and You have never left. But I have never given my life over to you as Mr. Hill did, and I do that now. Please take over my life.” I slept like a baby for the first time in what seemed like forever. I told Nita about what had happened. That is when Nita, I, and the children started going to Church and praying about life. Due to this business failure, we lost our home in Ginger Cove, moved to a rental home for 6 months, then bought an acreage outside of Elkhorn Nebraska in 1979. Life was good again.
Due to high interest rates, which was important to us, as we owned a home improvements company, our business net income went from about $80,000 a year to maybe $2,000 a month. We lost another home.
Nita just went with the flow, loving me anyway.
God stepped in again, and Nita took a position of managing a Thorough Bred Horse breeding farm outside of Omaha and we lived rent free. It was owned by our good, longtime friend, Jim Swanson, yes, the same man who gave me the job that allowed me to meet Nita Raye. We moved to the farm in 1983 and she ran it until Jim sold out in 1986.
One of the most profound things happened while I was out working one day. I stopped to rest between appointments, and I prayed. You see, we were both working 7 days a week. I still had a full-time sales job, then I helped Nita and the boys, Brad and Chris with farm duties, and we had reached a point in our marriage where we were picking at each other, criticizing each other; “Why did you do this, or that.” I prayed and asked God a question, I said, “Lord, I love Nita as much as ever, but sometimes I don’t like her very much. As the husband, I know it is my responsibility to solve this, and I don’t know what to do.” Before I could think about the question, I heard, in my spirit, “Stop criticizing, compliment only.” I said, “Ok, God, but she better change.”
That night after supper, I helped her with the dishes, which I never did before, and I looked for things to compliment her for, and I did. This went on for 2 weeks, then one night Chris and I were watching television, when Nita walked by and I again complimented her for something, I don’t remember what, but she stopped in her tracks, spun around on a heal and stuck her finger in my face and said, “Ok, mister, what is going on? You are being too nice to me.” I said, “Would you really like to know?” She said, “Yes!” (Christopher, wisely left the room.) So, I told her about my conversation with the Lord. When she heard it, she cried, as did I, and our lives changed forever. You see, I realized, I was the one who had changed, and that made the difference.
You are so great, Lord!
While we lived there, my business failed, and I went back to work for Encyclopedia Britannica, again. While I was in the office, one day, I received a call from a recruiter working for an insurance agency representing Pennsylvania Life Insurance Company. They had heard of me and my sales ability, so they offered me an interview with the management to take charge of their Omaha office in the life insurance division. Nita and I went to Sioux City, Iowa to be interviewed. They offered me the commissioned position with a guarantee of $1,000 a week, but I would have to get an insurance license. We agreed, although I would have to travel 5 days a week and go to the weekly sales meeting every Saturday. But Nita was allowed, no, encouraged to come to the meetings on Saturday with me. And she did.
How was I going to study for my insurance license and take the test while making sales calls with E.B.? Well, amazingly, I got an infection in my sinuses which caused me to be almost deaf. I could not go on sales calls, I tried, but I could not hear what my prospect was saying, so I stayed at home, went to the classes to prepare for the test, then took the test, and was called by my instructor, telling me I not only passed the test but ranked first of the people taking it that session! That really impressed my new employer! Thank you, Lord!
I went into training at Penncorp, the insurance agency, the next week. Then started on the road selling the following week.
Here we have another “God.” Intervention!
We were still living on the farm, but then the farm was sold, and we were going to have to move, again. But now I was making really good money, more than the promised $1,000 a week and we were able to buy another acreage, this time outside of Arlington, Nebraska, the year was 1986, and for the first time Nita only had her own horse to care for, not 26 others. Was she ever excited! And I made enough money that she could stay home and enjoy her “ranch”, with all her flowers and her house, and relax for a change.
The times of rest God arranged for us.
Our God knows when we need a time of rest, and He arranges it. Our first time to travel outside the US, was when in 1973 I won a trip to Yugoslavia while working for Westinghouse. I had signed up 2 major clients and won a trip with other salespeople for a job well done. Yes, I made the sales, but my manager had the right to claim the trip. However, my manager was Nita’s father Robert Hoilien, and he and her mother, Leone, passed the prize to Nita and me. Guess who watched all the children while we vacationed? Yes, her parents did! What wonderful parents. So again, we see unconditional love.
Adventurous Nita Raye on vacation!
The in 1983 we went to the Bahamas for another respite while working for Encyclopedia Britannica. Again? Yes, when Westinghouse Appliance Sales sold out to White Industries, I had to find other income. Another time of rest
While working for Penncorp, I won 2 trips. In 1986 we went to Acapulco. In 1987 we went to Spain. What I see in these trips was God saying, “You and Nita have been faithful in doing what I asked you to do with the children I blessed you with, without complaining, and I as your Father want to reward you with some good time off.”
In Spain with friends
The years of raising the children were filled with joys and sorrows, excitement, and despondence, but through it all Nita kept working and believing for the best. Here are two pictures at one of the weddings with two of her boys, Chris and Brad, and then the whole family, at that time.
I worked for Penncorp for three years, made it to the top nationally in sales, and then the insurance company we represented hired a new manager, and he decided our agency, my boss, was making too much money, so he cancelled the contract he had worked under for several decades. My boss suddenly was not making the money he had before, and neither was I.
I left the agency, started my own insurance agency with a friend and we were doing quite well until we had an opportunity to sell Living Trusts to our insurance clients. Today you can buy the paperwork to do your own Living Trust at Office Depot, or online. However, back then, you had to have an attorney handle it, and they didn’t want to, because with a Living Trust the attorneys don’t make the big money they do if they settle an estate. (Setting up a Living Trust is similar to forming a corporation, in that, when you die, the trust lives on, just as a corporation does, just with new management.)
Here is an example. Take a $1,000,000.00 estate. An attorney may charge up to 10%-15% to handle the settlement of the estate. That amounts to a fee of $100,000.00 to $150,000.00. Plus, there will be Federal and possibly State Estate taxes. We used an example of a farmer in Nebraska whose multiple million dollar estate settlement costs were over $250,000.00, most of which could have been eliminated by having a Living Trust! The fee for writing a Living Trust which avoids all the attorney fees, and much of the estate taxes was $1,000.00.
We had a professor at Creighton University law department design our Living Trust paperwork, and we began selling them. We had our own attorney on staff as well as people working to produce the paperwork. We had reached a point where we had enlisted over 300 insurance agents in North Dakota and Minnesota to sell the Trusts. Then Nita and I flew down to Florida where I made my presentation to the representatives of 9 Insurance Companies. I had a staff hired to handle all of this and held a meeting to analyze what the next year could bring in for income. I cut their figures in half, and we still would be able to pay off the money we had borrowed to develop our program. That Christmas we threw a big party for all our employees and life was good.
And then, here we go again. My personal accountant asked me to prepare a Living Trust for a client of his, a farmer whose net worth was in the millions of dollars. We did, then the man died. But he had forgotten to place a 10-acre piece of ground in the trust and his widow had to go to their lawyer to settle it. The lawyer was so upset that he was not going to be able to make the money settling the whole estate that he called my in-house attorney, telling her that he was going to put us out of business. She told me about the call, but I didn’t think much about it, after all we had done everything, we were required to do legally to sell these Trusts in several states as well as having filed it with the Federal government. Within a truly short period of time, we were served with a Cease-and-Desist order to not sell any Living Trusts, not only in Nebraska, but in any other state until and unless, the State approved the sale of same. The day we received the order I had our in-house attorney take a copy of our Living Trust to the Nebraska State department, and they agreed that it was the best written Living Trust they had seen, however, we were still not allowed to sell ours until they approved all Living Trusts being sold in Nebraska. We were out of business and had no way to pay off the money we had borrowed.
Only later was I told by the instructor we had to meet with for our insurance license renewal every year, what had really happened. The offended attorney, who was also a County Attorney, arranged a meeting in Lincoln Nebraska, to see what they could do to put us out of business. They were assured that we had done all we needed to do, to operate legally in Nebraska, however, they found out we had not filed the same paperwork in Missouri, and they contacted their counterparts there and that started the process for them. Why didn’t we file in Missouri? We were informed by our corporate attorney we didn’t need to as we had filed nationally.
After trips to Missouri to meet with attorneys, and other appeals, I was contacted by a Christian attorney from Missouri, to let me know what had happened. The state had changed the definition of a Living Trust to being a Security, after the fact, therefore we were going to be charged with selling Securities without a license. My partner left the company and our agreement, and I alone was charged, arrested and after fruitless appeals, was sent to prison for 3 years, 1 month and 1 day. Needless to say, we once again lost our home, our credit, our money and now also my freedom.
What about Nita? I asked her once if she ever thought about leaving me. She said the thought crossed her mind, but “where would I go, and who would love me like you have and still do?” Beautiful wife, beautiful life.
In September 1994 we moved back to Omaha, rented a home and Nita took a job at a cosmetic counter at a major department store. When she showed up on day one, she was moved to a different cosmetic company than the one she was supposed to work for, because the company’s executive manager, who over-saw many locations in several states, wanted her at the Lancome counter. Why? Here is another “God” intervention! The lady Nita replaced had unexpectedly quit and her position had to be filled! And then she raised Nita’s hourly pay from $6.00 per hour to $9.00 per hour.
Amazing! Here we have God intervening, again.
You see, when I went to prison April 5th, 1995, Nita’s new manager, Sherell, after Nita explained our situation, saw to it that Nita got a raise, helped her to develop her skills and knowledge of the company, and within less than 2 years, got Nita a position with Lancome corporate as a traveling representative, at $40,000.00 per year!
Oops, getting ahead of myself again.
The night before I had to report for incarceration, I told Nita, that I had worked the budget, had everything laid out, but that she and Chris would be $500.00 short per month, based on what the two of them were earning at that point. Chris was working 2 jobs, and Nita had her $9.00 per hour one, and that was it. I said we were going to have to believe God would make up the difference.
Our oldest son, John Jr, got together with the others, Stephanie, Bradford, and James, and they made up what was needed until Nita’s income covered their expenses.
They refused to tell me or their mother, how much they spent, and still today, they won’t.
One day, Nita related to me, as she was counting out Christopher’s and her money to pay the rent, she saw she was $100.00 short. And she prayed, “Lord, you see what we need, and I am trusting you to provide it.”
While she was still praying, John Jr showed up and said, “I was going to wait until Monday to bring this over, but something kept telling me, ‘no, take it to her now!” “So here is $150.00!” Wow, an extra $50.00! God is so good!
By the way, Chris gave all but $40.00 per week to his mother for expenses, until it wasn’t needed any more. Thank you, Chris! Great and Godly children!
Before Nita was informed of the big promotion, someone knocked on the door and asked if John Dumke lived there. Nita was at work, but Chris was resting between his two jobs and was home and he told her, “Yes.” She said, “I am so glad I found him, I am with the insurance company he worked for 2 years ago, and I have his last commission check, and we didn’t know where to send it. I just need him to sign this form and send it in and I will send the check,” Chris asked how much the check was, and was told it was over $1,000! When Nita told me about it, on our next phone call, I said, “Send the form to me, I will sign it and send it back. But save the money as you will need it for something God has planned.” Guess what? She needed it as the down payment for the new car she would need for her new position, which was something we didn’t know was coming, God did.
How was Nita going to qualify for a new car? I had ruined our credit with the business failures. So, God whispered in her manager Sherell’s ear, and she called her friend at the Dodge dealership who got the loan approved after Nita gave the $1,000 down payment, she had received from my commission check!
Now the children did not have to help with the finances anymore, and Chris could keep his paycheck because Nita had the income to cover all their expenses! Hallelujah! God was teaching Nita, not only how to handle running the household, but also how to deal with life’s challenges.
Nita would come to see me every couple of months, but except for a quick hug, all we could do was hold hands and talk. I wanted her to see me more often, but now in retrospect, I realize she couldn’t financially or time wise, because of her work. Our sons, John Jr, Bradford, James, and Chris came to visit several times, as well as our dear longtime friends, Dave, and Barbara Gaetke, traveling from Las Vegas just to see and encourage me. thank you.
Barbara and Nita
Dave and John
Nita’s mother, Leone, went to be with the Lord on December 29, 1997, and Nita had to deal with, not only the loss of her mother, but also all the things that go with it, like having an estate sale, then getting rid of what didn’t sell, plus keep doing her job. Of course, she excelled in it all, and our children pitched in to help her. Thank you, Lord, for wonderful sons!
Of course, the time in prison went by slowly, but eventually, I was released on May 6th, 1998, then had to go to St Joseph Missouri to serve out a 4-month house arrest term. Nita came almost every weekend, and we reunited in an incredibly special way. I got a job working on the construction of a motel which paid all my expenses and gave me the experience to get a job in Omaha, when I got home, with a construction company.
Then came that glorious day, I got to go home, September 6th, 1998!
When I think back on it now, God was with us both every day and in every way, while I was away. But I need to say, as this truth is Biblical, God put Himself in the position of being responsible for Nita and Chris’s well-being, because Nita did what was necessary. Her “deal” with God was her prayer when I went away. “Lord, I will do everything I can to meet our obligations and to keep our home intact, so when John comes home, he will come home, to his home, our home. I am trusting You to make up the difference between our needs, and our income.”
That was Nita! What a beautiful lady in every respect!
I worked at the construction company in Omaha from September 1998 until April 1999. Nita changed jobs so we could be together more of the time. No more traveling for her, now at a cosmetic counter in town.
As I wanted to get back in sales, and my probation was over, I took a job with a collection company. I did have to travel some, not too much, but my income soared to over $60,000 in just 8 months! We could now look for a home to buy. Yeah!
Life was getting to be good, again!
Nita and I made the decision that we would make the best of the time we had left, on this earth. We did everything we could together, we had our “date night each week, and enjoyed each other as we never had before. As before, we celebrated all the birthdays and holidays together as a family, at our home.
Then we bought our final home on Spring Circle, in Omaha Nebraska. I knew it was the place for us, because when we walked in to view it, by the time Nita had seen the living room and was entering the dining room, she stopped and said, “This is it!” And it was for over 19 years. January 9th, 2001 to April 25th, 2020.
Nita was offered a position with Talbots Clothing store, in April 1999 and of course, over the next 20 years moved up to managing a store for them.
In January 2020, I changed collection companies, and had a soaring success, until, we have seen this story before, the new company went broke. I did stay in the collection sales industry, but our income declined significantly. Yet Nita never berated me or stopped loving me. A beautiful lady, a beautifully lived life!
November 2009 the family
John and Beautiful
I had an appointment about 2 hours south of town on April 29, 2008. But I forgot I had it. I never forget appointments! But I did for a reason.
Here is an intervention of God again.
Nita and I were sitting at the kitchen counter having breakfast. I noticed she was kind of fussy, maybe something to do with work? Then she said she didn’t feel good and turned to look at me. It was then I saw the left side of her face had fallen! I said, “You are having a stroke! We are going to the hospital now!”
“Not before I put on my makeup!” That was Nita! She ran upstairs, in just a few minutes she came to the top of the stairs and said the fallen face was gone, so she thought she could go to work. I said, “No way, we are going to the hospital, now.” And we did.
When we got there and they ran all the tests, they said this was just the latest of several, “mini” strokes over the past months plus she also had double pneumonia! She told me that she had several occasions at work when she would suddenly feel dizzy and couldn’t think clearly, and now she knew why.
She was on medical leave until October 1, 2008, then went back to work, only to realize, she couldn’t keep up with the pace. She retired November 1, 2008.
About two years later, not wanting to just sit at home, she went back to work part time at Talbots until sometime in 2018, when her health really started to deteriorate.
Nita always had the belief that if she was able to do things, she should do them. So, she kept the house clean, although I helped her, due to her strength level. She hated a messy home. She continued to do the best she could, until she couldn’t.
From October 2019 until October 2020, she was in and out of the hospital almost every month with, first pneumonia, then heart failure, then lung failure, followed by kidney and thyroid issues. Because of a medication she was taking, her shin became very thin, tore easily and she was losing her hair. At first it upset her, then she excepted it and smiled at me a lot. I told her every day about how beautiful she was, and she always told me I had special eyes.
We continued having nightly Bible reading and prayer sessions before we went to sleep. I always prayed, then she would add something extra at the end.
When she came home from another hospital stay on the 4th of October 2020, she had hospice care daily, then the hospital bed in our great room. Then after our daughter Stephanie came to see her on October 15th, she was done. She graduated at 7:00pm, October 16, 2020. She had completed her course and went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I imagine Nita being with and enjoying spending great amounts of eternity with her parents and mine, my son Steven, remember the first trip we took together? and all the people who have gone on before her, especially her sister, Susan, and her best friend Sherell. When my time is over on earth, and I have completed all the tasks God has for me, as you did, I will join you forever and forever, beautiful lady! Your, Johnny
2000 40th High School graduation reunion. Onawa Iowa. Wow, Nita always stood out in a crowd.
Summer 1992 “Grams” 70th birthday party at our home in Arlington, NE Mother Leone, Sister Suzie and Nita Raye