Waunita B. DeLong
June 2, 1931 – September 5, 2023
Preceded in death by parents, Glenn and Bernice Palmer; brothers, Basil Dick, Elwood Palmer, Gale Palmer; sister, Wanda Davidson; and her best friend and loving husband of 72 years, Harry “Dale” DeLong. Survived by children, Tom (Bonnie) DeLong and Sue (Tim) Werner; grandchildren, Kelly (James) Bennett, Kevin (Val Collett) DeLong, Jason Sand, Stacey (Robb) Mundell; great-grandchildren, Cooper Bennett, Trey, Conner, and Lily Mundell; brother, Glen Palmer; sisters-in-law, Elizabeth Palmer, Dixie Wood, Marilynn Palmer; and many loving nieces and nephews.
Waunita grew up in the Creston and Truro, Iowa areas living on farms with her family. She was the fourth of six children, losing her mother when she was just 17 years old. She helped raise her younger twin brothers, Glen and Gale. She met the love of her life and future husband while attending Truro High School. Waunita played 6 person girls’ basketball with her sister, Wanda, their Truro High School team making the 1948 state basketball tournament finals.
Shortly after graduating high school and turning 18, Waunita married Dale and they moved to Omaha, NE. While Dale ran a construction business, she honed her many skills as a homemaker and mother, cheering Tom on at his baseball games and sewing stylish outfits for herself and Sue, which gained Sue lots of compliments from her teachers and friends. She kept a spotless house and made many wonderful meals and desserts for family and friends. In more recent years she took special pride in her yard and flowers, picking weeds daily (causing great concern from her caring neighbors) and ensuring the lawn crew didn’t miss a spot.
She was a talented athlete. In addition to basketball, she played softball in her early married years and later excelled in bowling. She carried an average of 170+ for several years in the Greater Omaha Women’s Bowling League and Ladies Traveling Classic League. She was a “lefty,” but being somewhat ambidextrous, learned how to golf right-handed because at the time, they couldn’t afford a left-handed set of clubs.
Hard work was deeply ingrained in Waunita. She kept the books for Dale’s construction business and used her determination and elbow grease to clean newly built houses for her husband’s, her son’s, and brother’s homebuilding businesses. She made sure those houses were perfect for the homeowners when move-in date arrived.
In 1968, once her two kids were in junior and high school, Waunita went to work at Aksarben Racetrack, first working in the money room and then in the Club House. When Aksarben closed in 1995, she was one of the few people asked to help open Horseman’s Park in 1998. She worked at Horsemen’s until she was 86 years old. Being a good handicapper who followed the horses and jockeys’ past results, she made many winning bets over the years.
Waunita and Dale loved playing pinochle and hearts with family and friends over the years, sometimes making day trips to meet up halfway with her brothers and sisters-in-law just to play for a few hours. Most endearing was watching her and Dale play Gin almost every morning while they had coffee at their kitchen table. Waunita was VERY competitive at cards and just about anything else! (Dale may or may not have thrown a few games for the sake of peace.) Her kids had a ball playing Nertz and Yahtzee with her and their dad when they were kids.
Music was a big part of Waunita’s life. Waunita and Dale were both musically talented. They entertained many folks over the years with their harmonizing voices while she played the piano and Dale played his guitar. They were regular attendees of the Brownville, NE Country Music Festivals throughout the 1970s. Once Tom and Sue were out of the house, she convinced Dale to take dance lessons with her. Dancing together gave Dale and Waunita many years of enjoyment.
Often with family and friends, Waunita and Dale enjoyed traveling together to many wonderful places. Waunita also learned how to fish and hunt since they were Dale’s favorite activities, one of the secrets to their happy marriage of 72 years! There were many fishing trips to Minnesota with parents, children and then grandchildren. Tom and Bonnie and their children have many stories of fishing competitions with Waunita. There were lots of fun trips to Las Vegas to enjoy the Blackjack tables and shows as well as trips to many horse racing venues. Later in life they turned the trip planning over to Sue and enjoyed seeing all corners of the country while being chauffeured by Tim.
Waunita was a beautiful, classy, smart, witty and warm woman with a fabulous smile, but really quite shy. She may never have fully known the amazing effect she had on all those who loved her. She will be deeply missed by all her family and friends.
VISITATION: Tuesday, September 12, 2023, 10am to 11:30am, West Center Chapel, followed by a CELEBRATION OF LIFE: at 11:30am. INTERMENT: Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials will be directed by the family.
To view a live broadcast of the Service, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.