Verda Lea Doughty was born at home in Remington, Indiana, on Sept 23, 1931. This was her first display of tenacity: she survived and even thrived after being handed off by the delivering doctor so that he could attend to her ailing mother.
She grew up living with her parents, Charles and Jennie Doughty, and her older sister Evelyn. Little brother Bobby passed away at age 3, which impacted her family greatly. During Verda’s childhood, she and her sister and their fellow “country kin” entertained their city cousins with fun activities such as holding hands in a line and grabbing the electric fence. (City cousins were, of course, on the end.) As a teen her adventures continued, from eating the prize-winning pie at the county fair with her friends (despite not having been given that pie) to bushwhacking the county sheriff and his girlfriend during their parking tryst. (Daughter Jean’s teen misdeeds were almost certainly inspired by her mom.)
Verda’s dream was to become a nurse, so she started her training at the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing at age 18. Her spirited nature led to fun and mischief during training and beyond: injecting oranges with vodka to sneak into the nursing dorm and making plaster of paris divinity candies to teach the candy-stealing doctors a lesson. She was proud to be a nurse. It wasn’t just a job—it was her calling. She maintained an active license long after she retired. She worked at Methodist Hospital initially and after a few years took a position as the nurse for an Indianapolis pediatrician, which proved to be fortuitous.
Verda was initially unlucky in love. In January 1958, she made this New Year’s resolution: “No Mate in ‘58.” But providence had other ideas. One day at the pediatrician’s office where she worked, a husband and wife brought their child in for an appointment. Like a good wingman, the husband kept an eye out for attractive single women for his single friend. Reluctantly, Verda agreed to an arranged blind date with his friend. On April 25, 1958, she drove herself (given her track record of bad blind dates) to meet a tall guy with twinkling blue eyes named Bill. She was pleasantly surprised, and Bill was smitten. (He purchased an engagement ring the following Monday!) The pair went dancing that first night and talked until early morning. They were engaged just fifteen days later at their favorite drive-in (Merrill’s HiDecker). Their song “Blue Moon” played as he pulled out the ring and asked, “Do you want this?” (Yes, Bill was a romantic devil.) William Louis Kleinhelter and Verda Lea Doughty were married on October 18, 1958. So much for her New Year’s resolution….
On December 29, 1961, Verda added a new title: Mom. She and Bill were adoring parents to Jean Ann Kleinhelter. Verda miscarried a son two years later; she was then unable to have more children. In her later years, Verda liked to tell folks, “I only had one, but I had the best.” Bill and Verda provided Jean with love, guidance, fun family vacations, and most importantly, a sense of humor that was often inappropriate, but that’s usually the best kind.
Verda worked at Peter Paul Cadbury as an occupational health nurse until it closed in 1984, and she met several dear friends there. She finished her career at Rea Magnet Wire as their occupational health nurse until her early retirement in 1993. She gave up her beloved nursing career then to care for Jean during her illness, as well as to care for her granddaughters Tenley (born 1991) and Hadley (born 1993).
Verda loved all of her family and friends with a fierceness and protectiveness that sometimes led to trouble. She didn’t hesitate to speak up if she felt it was needed, even if she hadn’t been asked. (Oops.) During Jean’s illness, Verda stayed at her side in the hospital, advocated for her, and, frankly, kept Jean alive. There’s that tenacity again. She helped Jean and her husband Joe (married Sept. 24, 1988) with surprise meals, clean laundry, family trips, and cookies for Joe during tax season. She loved to tell Jean not to “pick on her boy Joe.”
Verda and Bill enjoyed traveling during their retirement, from dancing down the streets of New Orleans after a hurricane from O’Brien’s to enjoying a sunny day on the San Antonio Riverwalk and visiting family in Washington state.
She unabashedly spoiled her grandchildren. Tenley and Hadley have many fond memories of walking to grandma’s house for after-school treats, Friday night sleepovers with 8 PM “midnight snacks,” special vacations with their grandparents, and all their inside jokes and nicknames. Not only would Verda do anything for Tenley and Hadley, they would also do anything to make her happy, including signing a pact at a young age that they would not shove cake in their spouses’ faces when they got married.
Many of the girls’ childhood friends also viewed Verda as their grandma. She and Bill never missed a recital, show, game, or ceremony that the girls were involved in. There was rarely a day that they didn’t see their grandparents as they grew up. Because of that, they credit many of their personality traits, silly antics, and morals to Verda and Bill.
Tenley Catron Adams (married to Matthew January 4, 2014) and Hadley Catron were the lights of Verda’s life, and they never doubted that for one minute. Verda quickly added Matthew to her list of “my boys” to defend.
In addition to friends and family, Verda also adored coffee and cookies (another trait passed on to Jean), as well as dancing with Bill. They could really cut a rug! Verda lost Bill in February 2015. He was her one true love, and she mourned his loss. Dementia slowly stole many of her memories, but Verda always talked to visitors and staff at Wesley Manor about her nursing career, her family, her Bill, and especially her daughter Jean. She continued to let Jean know how much she loved her, and on her final lucid day, she introduced a nurse to her “sweetheart Jean.” Verda never forgot her love and adoration of our Lord and often stated how she “didn’t know how people carried on without him.” She instilled faith in all her family members and showed God’s love to her church family at St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Frankfort.
Verda passed away at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, with her family at her side, on Saturday, December 21, 2019—the due date of her first great-grandchild, William, who she had been so eager to meet and hold. Her family takes joy in the knowledge that the two of them enjoyed some together time before he joined us here on Tuesday, December 24, 2019. Her family can’t wait until the day they all meet again and watch as she and Bill dance to “Blue Moon.” What a beautiful reunion!
Verda was preceded in death by her father Charles Doughty, mother Jennie Doughty, sister Evelyn Doughty Nichols, brother Robert Doughty, a stillborn son, and the love of her life, William L. Kleinhelter.
She is survived by her daughter Jean Catron, son-in-law Joseph K. Catron, two granddaughters, Tenley Adams (Matthew) and Hadley Catron, and her new great-grandson, William Daniel Adams, who is the namesake of her late husband. She is also survived by many beloved cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Visitation will be held on Friday, December 27, 2019, at Genda Funeral Home in Frankfort, from 4:00 p.m. to the start of the funeral service at 7:00 p.m. Pastor Kevin Smith will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the High School Scholarships Fund c/o St. Matthew United Methodist Church, 1951 Wilshire Drive, Frankfort, IN 46041. Online condolences may be directed to www.gendafuneralhome.com.
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