February 5, 1926 – February 18, 2021
Born in Havelock, NE
Resided in Lincoln, NE
Lillian Benitta (“Nita”) Sallee
Lillian Benitta (“Nita”) Sallee, 95, passed away in hospice care on February 18, 2021 at Waterford Assisted Living at College View. Previously, Nita was a resident at Mahoney Manor in Havelock. Because of Covid travel and safety complications, a memorial service for Nita will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made in Nita’s name to Morris Animal Foundation .
Nita was born in Havelock on February 5, 1926. The fourth of five children born to William M and Molly (O’Brien) Sallee, Nita was predeceased by her sister Louise Gottberg (Dallas) and brothers William M (Derry, NH), Arthur J (Bowman, ND), and Robert J (“Bob”) (Lincoln). Nita is survived by one nephew, Bill Sallee, and nine nieces, Ann Gottberg, Jane McMaster, Kathleen Coleman, Mary Lou Sallee, Maureen Wenzel, Cynthia Cohen, Linda Howe, Sandra Clark, and Susan Zebley.
Outgoing and energetic, Nita was especially devoted to her younger brother Bob, a bond strengthened by the sudden death of their mother Molly (O’Brien) Sallee in 1943 when Bob was 12 and Nita 17. Like soulmates, the two formed a partnership that endured through the years. To nephew Bill and all the nieces who came to visit extended family in Lincoln, Nita and Bob’s apartment in College View was a special destination. Nita, always stylishly dressed despite a tight budget, stood ready with chips, a quip and contagious laughter. Her musical voice seemed to have laughter built into it; you found yourself amused and engaged even if nothing was especially funny. Her laughter, full of her spirit, lit up the entire room. When Jane and her sister Ann were younger, their family visited Nita every summer. They were from Texas, so their accent would always make Nita laugh. Ann used to say things to make her laugh, “just so I could hear that sweet sound.” Jane remembers Nita as a happy, content human being, always smiling, with a good sense of humor; she too can still recall her laugh. As Nita grew older, the sound of her laugh never faded. Nita was revered as the “cool aunt” and her nieces and nephew would count the days until they could see her again! Bob’s death from cancer in 1990 at the age of 58, though devastating for Nita, did not diminish her fortitude, good nature, and perseverance.
Bill Sallee, the first-born of his generation and the only nephew, spent his early years in Havelock where his mother lived with her parents during World War II. Following the war, his parents moved the family to Denver. During grade school, Bill would take the Denver Zephyr to Lincoln every summer to stay with his grandparents in Havelock. During each trip, he would meet Nita at her office in the accounting department at Miller & Paine and they would have lunch together at the Cornhusker, a special treat for both of them. During the same period, Nita was sponsor for niece Linda’s confirmation at St. John’s in Lincoln. Following the ceremony, Nita gave Linda a beautiful white blouse with intricate embroidery around the collar. It was so delicate and pretty, and came from Miller and Paine, the department store in Lincoln at the time. It was a treasured occasion and gift.
Nita knew her own mind and followed it consistently, often conveying her views with a dry wit. She would not agree to do something just to be polite. From her we learned authenticity, commitment, and honesty. Family members remained devoted to Nita, coming from all parts of the country to visit her long after grandparents and other relatives had passed–she was still our fun Aunt Nita. Ann remembers Nita in recent years always wearing her Converse Sneakers. When Ann remarked how “hip” she was, Nita would reply, “Really? I like them because they’re comfortable.”
Bill Sallee has represented the family in overseeing Nita’s care for the last several years. He has been assisted by Nita’s friend Penny Truax, who visited her frequently and helped with any needs she had since family members live at a distance. We deeply appreciate the loving care and support of her caregivers at Waterford College View and St. Croix Hospice.
Nita, beautiful inside and out, lived a long and eventful life. She made many sacrifices and had a deep sense of commitment, especially to her brother Bob. She had a special love of reading, wildlife, old movies, and in recent years, reruns of The Golden Girls. Nita’s passing marks the end of an era for our family, and while we are deeply saddened to lose her, our lives have been enriched by her love, commitment, and devotion.
Graveside Service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 16, 2021 at Calvary Cemetery.
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