Life
of
Rev. Dianne (Schrader) Picton

by Owen Picton

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Dianne was born August 8, 1940 in a house at Bloomfield, Nebraska and died November 30, 2002 at Fremont, Nebraska.

Her Grandfather August Cook past away about 6 months after her birth from the effects of anthrax. The memory of this disease in the family and his death had far reaching effects on the family. It caused her Grandmother Anna Cook to move to California to be near her parents and work as a domestic servant to support her family and her Aunt Lois to attend high school in California. At the time of Dianne's birth, her Great Grandparents Martin and Lena Peters (parents of Grandmother Anna Cook) owned and lived on a ranch on the White River at Murdo, South Dakota but during World War 2 they moved to Alhambra, California to be near three of their daughters.

Dianne lived on her parents farm for a period of time until her Father started working for the Chrysler Car Dealership that her Grandfather Elmer Schrader owned. Then they moved to Bloomfield. I do not know if this was before or after Dianne started grade school. Dianne did attend grade school while she lived in town. Dianne's father did not like working for the Chrysler Car Dealership, so her father moved back to the farm and started farming. Dianne attended country school until the eight grade.

Dianne was a good student. She did not have enough school work to keep her busy. The school had a set of encyclopedias. She read all of the encyclopedia books to keep busy.

One of the greatest event during her young years was the blizzard of 1948 – 1949. This affected Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The United States government had to call out the military to help the people. The government rescued people, dropped feed to cattle by airplane and tried to open the roads, The government dropped a message to Dianne's house saying how to spell out help in the snow if an emergency. They did not miss any school because her father would walk her to school over the snow drifts and cross country. Her father had to build fences on top of fences because the animals would just walk out over the drift on the hard packed snow. Cars could not use the roads because of the snow. The farmers put runners on there wagons and used horses to pull the wagons. All the farmers in the area banned together and make trips to town for supplies. Between Christmas and Easter, Dianne with her family only made it to town once.

Her favorite activity while growing up was going to church camp during the summer.  The different Lutheran pastors in the area would rent cabins at the nearby Niobrara State Park and have summer church camp.  That is where she learned to love Jesus.  Dianne had a horse when she was growing up and she liked to go horseback riding except when she fell off into a cactus plant. She also liked to play baseball and do sports but there was no opportunity. Only boys did sports in high school when she was in high school.  She was a good student, loved music, was very artistic,good in sports and a good quiet leader.

Dianne enjoyed 4H. In 4H she learned to sew. She won speaking contests in 4H and went to the Nebraska State Fair in speaking for 4H. In high school, they taught her to cook, type and short hand. Her high school was limited in what opportunities it offered students. Dianne used short hand in class notes and work for the rest of her life. That is why it is difficult to read any of her hand written notes that now exist.

Life was not easy and she was not happy when young, but she never explained this. She accepted this and did the best that she could. She was always exceptional. In later years she seemed to think that she had been forced to worked too hard when young. That she was not allowed to do some things only because she was a girl. Her national church did not allow women to be pastors at the time she was graduating from college. It was a number of years later before women pastors were allowed. She felt in religion that women had been discriminated against and also in all else. In the years after she became a pastor, she had the habit of changing the word “he” by speaking the word “God” for “he” in religious songs and bible verses.  Working for women's rights and stopping discrimination of women stayed with her for the entire rest of her life.  A minor complaint her whole life was that womens restrooms were most often location further away than those for men.  Still, she was a happy person who was able to joyfully fulfill her lifes ambitions.

As an adult Dianne was a humble, quiet person and never wanting to bring attention to herself.  She often knew the answer in class or in life but hardly ever would say anything.  She did not like to talk on the telephone except she had too in later years to conserve energy when she had cancer.  She was always well organized and always had completed what she planned for the next day before she went to bed.

Dianne started Midland College in the fall of 1958. Her plan for obtaining a college degree and Registered Nursing License, was to attended Midland College for two years and three years at the Immanual School of Nursing. Her final plan was to become a nurse missionary in Liberia, Africa and serve God.  Our marriage stopped her plans as a nurse missionary to Liberia but she always kept an interest.  The nurses who did do this, had there hospitals burned and destroyed by war and the nation of Liberia continues to be destroyed by the rampages of war and disease.

The summer job before her sophomore year, she worked at a place in Fremont, Nebraska that made chicken dinners. This was hard work. She deboned chicken while it was still hot. She had college classmates who worked at the same place and lived at Hooper, Nebraska. So she stayed with them and would ride back and forth. She would remain friends with these women the rest of her life.

Owen Picton (myself)(see my autobiography) met Dianne in 1960 when she was a sophomore at Midland College. I have a second cousin who suggested to Dianne that we date. We started dating just as I was graduating form Midland College.

That summer before starting Immanual School of Nursing, Dianne had a job working at a summer church camp just North of New York City in New York. She first found people who were driving from Omaha to work in that area during the summer and she rode with them. I remember Dianne's Grandparents bringing Dianne to Omaha to catch the ride. This church camp took African American girls from the slums of New York City. The children were used to pavement and afraid of grass. Then these African American girls wanted Dianne to help fix there hair and Dianne did not know were to start. It was very difficult. Finally, she caught a bad case of poison ivy. She learned a lot and liked it in the end.

That fall in 1960, Dianne started the Immanual School of Nursing. Within a month her Grandfather Elmer Schrader had a heart attack and died. Her cousin had started Immanual School of Nursing the year before. This was a three year program and she had to promise not to get married until graduation time. Those that did were kicked out. They wore white uniforms and after a period of time they all had to wear white caps in the style of that nursing school. The students had to take classes at such places as the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Children's Hospital. The students were a source of cheap labor for at Immanual Hospital. I continued to date Dianne.

At about the time of Dianne's graduation, we were married on May 26, 1963. Dianne sewed her own wedding dress. Dianne took the test to become a Registered Nurse and had the top grade in Nebraska. She was now an RN. The first six months of marriage we lived near where the old Immanual Hospital was located, the weather was warm and we had a swimming pool.  Dianne was now ready to obtain her college degree.  A problem was that her high school had not offer any foreign language, so she was required to have a third year class of a foreign language before she could graduate from Midland College.  So she still needed a third year class of Spanish before she could graduate from Midland College which she had forgotten during the last three years. While at Immanual she had taken classes at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her solution was to combined those hours with her hours at Midland College plus take one or two semesters at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a bachelor of science degree.

President Kennedy was assassinated while she was taking these classes at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. By this time, we had moved to an apartment not far from Mutual of Omaha. She came home from class, the  President Kennedy assassination was all over the news on our black and white TV and the telephones had stopped working because of the volume. Everything was canceled excepted Nebraska football. So we decided to visit her parents at Bloomfield that weekend. We went to church that Sunday in Bloomfield and then to her Grandmother Anna Schrader for dinner. When we arrived from church, her Grandmother was crying because she had just witness Lee Harvey Oswald being murdered live on television.

Graduation from the University of Nebraska at Omaha was to be a big event except her father became sick at Bloomfield. His lungs had collapsed and he was in the hospital. Years later we learned how sick he had been. It was felt that he had been using farm chemicals and they had caused this.

Dianne got a job teaching nursing to nursing students at Children's Hospital after graduation from college. She enjoyed taking care of the babes. This was at the old Children's Hospital and only about 10 blocks from Mutual of Omaha. One thing she noticed was a great number of people she knew from the Bloomfield area that were bringing in children with birth defect problems. I remember that she kept telling me this. More on this later.

In September of 1964, we found this trip to Europe for $300 per person from New York City. It was round trip, three weeks long and traveled all over Europe. We took a train from Omaha to New York City. Dianne had been to New York City when she worked at the church camp near by, so she showed me around New York City and then we went to the New York Worlds Fair. The Europe trip included an overnight jet plane ride to London where the tour started. The trip had a boat ride across the English Channel, then by bus to such places as Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France. We did see some war damage and some buildings in Italy still had bullet holes showing. By the time we arrived in Paris, Dianne realized she was pregnant because she was having morning sickness. People on the trip did not know, so were afraid they were going to catch what was making Dianne sick.

David was born in 1965, but before that we had to get a bigger apartment. The day David was born, Dianne had gotten up and said she did not feel that great. So I walked to work and Dianne kept the car. Dianne called the doctor, was told he was at Immanual Hospital and for her to see him there. As soon as Dianne saw the doctor, he realized that the Placenta was becoming detached and David was dieing for lack of oxygen. They did surgery immediately without any anesthetic because David was not getting oxygen. Everything worked out fine. Someone had to give me a ride from work to the hospital. By that time we were attending Trinity Lutheran Church in Omaha and that was where David was baptized.

We wanted to live on an acreage and raise our family. For a year we had been looking at various acreages and placed offers on some. We were always too cheap. In December 1965 we found forty acres for $250 an acre near Blair. We both knew instantly that was what we wanted and purchased it on the spot. When the real estate agent got back to his home someone else was waiting to buy it, but we already had bought it. We obtained a house loan from the Federal Government to build our house. We agreed to do our own painting to save money. We started painting in September and Dianne came down with hay fever. Owen's parents came and helped us paint. Dianne's hay fever would bother her for the rest of her life and get worst as time went on. Finally, many years later, she could not be around certain plants, soaps or cigarette smoke.

Our apartment in Omaha was leased until the end of November, 1966. I moved into our new house the first of December without heat and Dianne and David went to live with her parents for two weeks. The house was not ready until the middle of December. Dianne's parent helped us move in. Dianne in the spring planted a pine tree wind brake North of the house with David crawling along behind her. We continued to attend church at Trinity Lutheran Church in Omaha.

We started planting Christmas trees. The first few months of 1969 Owen was involve in a car wreck where his hip was broken and a steel plate put into his hip. In the seventies we started selling Christmas trees.

Stephen was born in 1970 and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Omaha. Trinity Lutheran Church in Omaha belonged to the United Lutheran Synod and First Lutheran Church in Blair, Nebraska belonged to the American Lutheran Synod. We decided that it was more important for our children to attend Sunday School with children that they attended public school with than what Lutheran Synod we belonged too. So we switched to the First Lutheran Church in Blair, Nebraska.

Dianne did a lot of gardening. She sewed a lot of cloths for the family. Dianne then entered her gardening and sewing in the county fair and won prizes. This was something her Grandmother Cook had done and was passed down in the family.

In about 1976 our family took a three week vacation to the Cancun area of Mexico. The round trip from Omaha cost $100 for adults and $50 for children. We rented a car, drove to a lot of places and climbed a lot of Mayan pyramids. This was a first of many vacations we took to Mexico. About this time we purchased a canoe. Each summer for about the next 15 years we canoed the Niobrara River at Valentine, Nebraska and a number of other places in Nebraska. Between 1976 and 1990 we took trips to Hawaii, St Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic and a number of trips to Mexico.

Dianne was very active in church. She was in charge of the church library and belong to the state and national church library associations. She attended many of the meetings. Dianne was in charge and ran the church Vacation Bible School each summer. Dianne liked quilting and was in charge of the quilting group at church. They made hundreds of quilts. Dianne started the practice of displaying all the quilts made in a year on the church pews. Dianne and her Mother dreamed up that idea. I think it was original to them and soon other churches were displaying quilts the same way. It is now a national thing and I think that Dianne may have been the source of this.

Dianne started taking religious classes at Dana College, Blair, Nebraska and at Midland College, Fremont, Nebraska. Each semester she would take more classes. Dianne took art, painting and drawing classes and she loved to draw. She was always sketching something whenever a moment of time. Dianne received an Associate Degree in Religion from Midland College on the year Midland College was 100 years old. She already had a college bachelor of science degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dianne served on Church councils. Dianne served on committees for the formation of the ELCA Lutheran Synod from the American Lutheran Synod and the Untied Lutheran Synod.

Owen had his first heart attack in early 1983 while Dianne was in class at Midland College that morning and David had a big wrestling tournament at Boys Town that day. David graduated from Blair High School in June 1983 and started Luther College, Decorah, Iowa that fall. Dianne and I went to our first Global Mission Event of the Lutheran Church held that summer at Midland College. This was a mind changing experience for Dianne and myself. Owen quit his job in the spring of 1985. In 1986, Dianne started working at a telemarketing company answering calls when people called in and Owen started working as a data processing manager at a factory near by at Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.

Owen roiled our Ford Farm Tractor with the big wheel landing in the middle of his chest. Owen collapsed both lungs, broke his ribs in 15 places and lost his spleen but lived. After coming home from the hospital, Owen sleep in the basement for two weeks and had his son Stephen wait on him and take care of him for two weeks. David graduated from Luther College in 1987 and started working in data processing. Stephen graduated from Blair High School in 1988 and started Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois that fall. In 1990, Dianne decided to go to seminary and become a pastor. We meet Kelly in the spring of 1990 when Dianne and I went over to visit Stephen in college to tell him she was going to seminary to become a pastor. A year or two later Kelly went home and had her father tell her he was going to seminary to become a pastor.

Dianne visited many seminaries and enrolled at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. Owen had another heart attack and had to have triple bypass heart surgery in July 1990. While Owen was at the Immanual Hospital in July, Dianne decided to have a mammogram. The hour Owen was being dismissed, Dianne was being told that she had breast cancer. Dianne had a breast mastectomy so we both were at home recovering at the same time and neither of us where allowed to drive. Dianne with great difficulty was able to start seminary on time at Dubuque, Iowa in September 1990. The mastectomy damaged her right arm so that she could not do the quality of detail drawing that she did before.

Seminary was a lot of hard work, great joy and fun for Dianne. Attending seminary was like being back at college. Dianne attended a number of events at seminary and made a lot of good friends. Dianne would daily weed a small spot of seminary flower beds as she walked to class. She went to chapel every morning and they had a coffee break right after where everyone would sit around and visit. For communion, the wine was served in a common cup, so Dianne and I would try to sit in the front to be one of the first to drink from it. Dianne loved to sketch and draw, so she did the sketches in the monthly woman’s news letter published by the women students at the seminary. She even wrote some articles for the woman's newspaper.

The summer of 1991, Dianne did chaplain training at Immanual Hospital, Omaha, Nebraska. This was another set of people she became friends with. One time someone was killed on highway 133 to Blair and Dianne was assigned to meet with the family. I think the person may have burned to death in a car wreck. Dianne had to be on call to handle things like this.

One January interim, Dianne and Owen went with a group of students from Dana College to Panama. This was a year after the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War started while we were in Panama. This was an eye opening experience in how people feel in a different county after an invasion by the United States. For example, a well educated school teacher belonged to the wrong political party in Panama and now could only get a job being a cook.

Another January interim, Dianne, Owen and David spent in Jamaica. Dianne took classes at the Lutheran part of a seminary which was part of University of the West Indies. After Dianne was done with the classes, David came and we drove around the Island of Jamaica. This was the start of David's travels by himself around the world.

Another time in January, David and Owen drove from Blair, Nebraska to Cancun, Mexico. David then went scuba diving at Cozumel, Mexico for a week. While David was scuba diving, Dianne flew down and spent a week with Owen at Cancun. Dianne took her computer along and worked on class work while laying on the beach.

Owen worked at his job at Fort Calhoun, Nebraska the first year and half while Dianne was at seminary. A few times Dianne and Stephen rode home from school together. Stephen graduated from college in 1992 and got a job doing data processing in Chicago when Kelly graduated. Dianne was assigned to do her one year of internship at an ELCA church called Mision Luterana San Pablo, Westlaco, Texas. The seminary had this big meeting and everyone was told their assignment.

Dianne needed a white robe while on her internship, so along with consulting with friends in Blair she sewed a white robe. She used scrapes of white silk left from making her wedding dress to create a cross in back of the robe. We packed up and moved for a year for Dianne to serve Mision Luterana San Pablo, Westlaco, Texas. The church provided housing in a trailer park with a swimming pool filled with winter Texas from up North. The church had an English speaking and a Spanish speaking congregations. Dianne served the English speaking congregation. The pastor of the Spanish speaking congregation was the supervisor for Dianne. That winter the youth group in Texas went to visit congregations in North Dakota and Minnesota along Interstate 29. Dianne was one of those in charge of the trip. The culture, language, and age of the two groups in the Texas congregation made it difficult for each to understand the other. This was not easy for Dianne. I still try to go and visit those people in Weslaco, Texas. A lot of good memories.

In 1993 Dianne returned to the seminary for her final year. It was fun getting back together with everyone discussing there experience. No one had it easy and God tested everyone. For the final 1994 January interim, one of the professors from Wartburg Theological Seminary lead a tour to Egypt and the Holy Land. Dianne and Owen took this trip. Owen rode a camel at the pyramids in Egypt and we saw the caves where the pharaohs are buried. We tried to climb Mt Sinai but a blizzard stopped us. We traveled around the Holy Land seeing such places as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan River. Dianne gave a bible study at Capernaum as an assignment. Returning home for the final semester required her to meet with the professors and be approved for graduation. In addition, Dianne had to pick which state she wanted to be assigned too. Dianne was assigned to the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA which is were she wanted to be because her parents lived here. Dianne almost choose Texas and even called back while driving home from seminary and told them to change it from Texas to Nebraska.

Dianne graduated in June 1994. Stephen and Kelly were married July 3, 1994. Dianne's parents along with David flew to Chicago for the wedding. Dianne loved to quilt and quilted herself a clergy stole. Someone saw the stole and published it in a quilt book as an example of quilting. Dianne was appointed and hired to serve at St John Lutheran Church, Cuming County Line, Scribner, Nebraska and St Paul's Lutheran Church, Uehling, Nebraska. Dianne was ordained November 13, 1994 at the First Lutheran Church, Blair, Nebraska. As pastor of these two congregations I feel were the most joyous years of Dianne's life. Starting in 1994 she weekly connected over the internet with other pastors to discuss the contents and plans of the next Sunday sermon.

In about 1995 there was an article in the Omaha World Herald newspaper that there were radioactive hot spots in Nebraska from western United States Nuclear bomb testing in the 1950's. This was the only time I am aware of, that the government has admitted it and gave the locations in Nebraska. One of those radioactive hot spots was Knox County which is were Bloomfield is located. Dianne then realized that is why she was seeing all those baby birth defects when she worked at Children's Hospital. Dianne said her fathers cows would have eaten the radioactive grass from the Nuclear bomb testing fall out during rains and she drank her fathers radioactive milk from her fathers cows. She felt that this may be the cause of her breast cancer. Knox and Cedar Counties are currently radioactive hot spots in Nebraska but no one remembers why.

In about 1996, Dianne and Owen went to a church hurricane help project through the ELCA to help hurricane victims on St Thomas, Virgin Islands. We stayed in a 400 year old Lutheran church parsonage in St Thomas while doing this.  Dianne and Owen took a couple of trips to Cancun, Mexico over the next few years. The last trip was just a week before 9/11. On the return trip home, both Dianne and Owen had felt the dislike for the United States during the trip. We felt and discussed that something bad was going to happen soon in the world.

Around Thanksgiving of about the year 1996, Dianne found that her cancer had returned as stage four. Then just before Christmas I was driving and our car would slide on the ice and wreck near Fremont.  Dianne had to be removed from the car with the "jaws of life".  She was bruised and may have had some broken ribs.  Stephen and Kelly were thrown from the car and I looked out and saw them both not moving in the middle of the highway.  Seeing this is the worst memory of my life.  Kelly had a torn liver and Stephen had a concussion which gave him memory problems for a while.  We were all very very fortunate considering the extend of the wreck and this is the most regrettable thing in my life.

Cancer was a battle from then on with weekly trips to Omaha. Dianne carried on with all her power. She did a lot of things in her ministry such as organizing gathering unused food from fields to be used at food banks in Omaha. Helping flood victims in North and South Dakota.

Dianne went to Chicago and baptized her Grandson Zachary on April 14, 2002. Dianne's Mother died April 18, 2002. The final thing was the 100 year celebration for her St John congregation held the end of June 2002. Her Greatest thing was her faithful service to her two congregations. Dianne had to end her ministry the first part of July 2002. The hardest thing was for Dianne to write her resignation letter in August.

In September, Dianne entered the hospital. In the middle of October Dianne had a massive seizure. I was told that Dianne was dead. I had them call David and to have them read some scripture aloud over Dianne. All at once they said her heart had started beating and that she was alive. The nurse had never seen that happen before. The next morning Dianne started saying a few words and got better over the next few days. One thing she could not do was remember the death of her Mother even if she knew she was dead after we told her. David arrived after picking up Cindy. We stayed with Dianne 24 hours a days for the next few days. Cindy had a lot of good night conversations with Dianne and really got to know her. Dianne return to our Assisted Living home in Fremont, Nebraska the first part of November.

David and Cindy got married November 23, 2002 at St John's Lutheran Church, Cuming County Line, Scribner, Nebraska. Dianne wanted to attend the wedding but was not physically able to do so. David and Cindy did redo there wedding vowels with the pastor in front of Dianne right after the wedding. Stephen, Kelly and Zachary came for the wedding. When Zachary left, Dianne could not keep her eyes off Zachary. She just stared at him. She know that was the last time she would she him. We held Thanksgiving that week and Dianne died just as it was getting dark on November 30, 2002. Dianne was buried in the cemetery at St Johns Lutheran Church and in her white robe that she had sewed with the back facing the front to show the white silk cross.

If Dianne were alive today, she would have five Grandchildren. Stephen and Kelly have two children who are Zachary and Anna. David and Cindy have three children who are Martha, Kathryn and Paul. The last year of Dianne's ministry, she had a cell phone which was very large and only allowed fifteen minutes per month of actual usage without an extra charge. How cell phones have changed since then. The farm that Dianne grew up on, is now located in the middle of a huge wind farm called the Elkhorn Ridge Wind Farm with large wind electric generators all around the farm generating electricity but none on the actual farm ground which was owned by her father.


If you like this life story, would you consider making a donation to a church or religious affiliated non profit institution or if unable, then to a Space Exploration through a Foundation or other non profit institution. Do this in the memory of Dianne Picton.
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