Velma Berryman Kessel


(Jan. 26, 2004)

Funeral services were held Monday, Jan. 26 at Hope Lutheran Church for Velma Berryman Kessel, 85, who died Thursday, Jan. 22 at Powell Valley Nursing Care Center.

She was born to Walter and Lena Berryman in Deaver on Aug. 8, 1918. She graduated from the Deaver school system and then graduated from Billings Deaconess Hospital in September of 1940 as a Registered Nurse. She worked at the county hospital in Billings and then joined the medical staff Oct. 19, 1942, at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp west of Powell.

She married John Kessel in Billings, Mont., on April 13, 1943. They spent the first three years of their marriage apart, John overseas and Velma working at the relocation camp. After the war, they settled in Powell and opened OK Tire Store.

Velma was bookkeeper at the family business for a number of years, but later returned to her love of caring for others as a school nurse and then obstetrical nurse at the Powell Hospital. She retired from nursing when she started helping to deliver babies from the babies she had once delivered.

She was an active member of Hope Lutheran Church and served as Sunday School superintendent for a number of years and participated in the making of quilts. She delighted in the fact that she learned to tat when she was 80 years old. She truly enjoyed the company of friends.

She enjoyed traveling with her husband later participated in trips with her daughters. She was an avid reader, enjoyed painting, ceramics, crocheting, dollmaking and watching John Wayne movies. Her book, "Behind Barb Wire," chronicles her experiences at the Japanese relocation camp and makes a contribution to national history. She loved corn candy, but most of all, she loved her family. She would say, "I love you and I'm so glad you're mine."

Survivors include her daughters, Cheryl Kolesien (Jim) of Powell and Arleen Kessel of Colstrip, Mont.; her sister, Vella Ellis (George) of Lovell; a brother, Ivan Berryman of Garland; her grandchildren, Kim Moore (Jim) of Meeteetse, Tamara Alexander (Ryan) of Yakima, Wash., Brandee Dahill (Robert) of Cheyenne, and Josh Degraffenreid (Carl) of Billings; seven great-grandchildren, Jon, Rylee and Bailee Moore, Zacheri and Ellie Alexander, Spencer Dahill and Dakota Degraffenreid; and many nieces and nephews.

She was a woman of many roles and touched many lives. Her family says, "We are so blessed that she was ours."

Burial was in Crown Hill Cemetery, under the direction of Miratsky-Easton Funeral Home.