Vestina Mae “Nee-ba-wee” Nonken Obituary

Vestina Mae “Nee-ba-wee” Nonken

Vestina Mae Nonken (Nee-ba-wee), 79, of Holton, died Thursday, January 24, 2008 at the HoltonCommunityHospital. She was born March 9, 1928 on the Potawatomi Common Land near Mayetta, KS, the daughter of Joseph S. and Alice Lasley Nioce.

Vestina graduated from HoltonHigh School in 1945 and had lived all her life in the JacksonCounty area. She worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in land leasing dept., Indian Health Services and as Potawatomi Tribal Council Secretary for 4 years. In the early 1970’s she contributed to the reinstatement of the constitution for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the formation of a tribal council. During the four years as secretary, she saw the construction of 36 homes, the first phase of the Housing and Urban Development and a combination elder center, gymnasium and office building. In 1982 she was executive director for the tribe; in 1996 she was elected vice chairperson on the tribal council for 4 years and later served on the tribe’s elder advisory board and health board.

She was a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church, and also attended St. Francis Xavier in Mayetta and St. Dominic in Holton. She was a charter member of the Eagles Auxiliary, a member of the Holton Business Women, the VFW auxiliary and the American Legion Auxiliary. She served on the Jackson County Development Board of Directors, the Holton Area Chamber of Commerce, and in February of 2007 was nominated into the Chamber’s Hall of Fame.

She is survived by her husband of 23 years, Bill Nonken of Holton; a son, Cecil Walker of Gold River, CA; 2 step-sons, John Walker of New York Mills, MN, Mike Nonken of Nolan, TX; 3 step-daughters, Sue McGilton of Topeka, KS, Shirley Grosse of Marion, KS, Janie Turner of Fletcher, OK; 3 sisters, Inez Aiken of GA, Jeanette Cummings of WA, Loretta Rosenthal of IA; 19 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by a sister Isabelle Thomas and a brother Edgar L. Nioce.

Mass will begin at 10:00 a.m., Monday, January 28, 2008 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Mayetta. A rosary will be recited 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening at the Mercer Funeral Home in Holton and visitation will follow the rosary. Burial will be in the ShipsheeCemetery. Memorials may be given to Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Emergency Services c/o Mercer Funeral Home, P.O. Box 270, Holton, KS66436. Online condolences are available at

(Courtesy of Mercer Funeral Home)