Myrna June Reber was born December 26, 1931 in McPherson, Kansas, the biological daughter of Mildred Dea Mitchell Matthew and Ernest Harold Matthew. She always thought the day after Christmas was the worst day of the year to have a birthday. In fact, she changed her birthday briefly when she was in her teens to the month of June.
The little family lived for the first two years of Myrna’s life in the upstairs front bedroom apartment in the home of her maternal grandparents, Oliver and Lucy Lee Mitchell in McPherson. The next two years were spent in Blackwell, Oklahoma. Then Myrna and her mother moved to Wichita, Kansas, where they shared a house with Mildred’s sister and her husband, Eura and Sam Fretz.
In 1940 Myrna’s mother married Verl Hervey Dobbins and he immediately became “Daddy” to her. He later legally adopted her as his only daughter. Three brothers eventually joined the family, Michael Oliver, David James, and Thomas Mitchell and Myrna was “Sis” to her brothers and later “Aunt Sis” to her nieces and nephew, titles she wore proudly.
Myrna attended the Wichita Public Schools from Kindergarten through high school, except for about a year or so during World War II when her daddy was in the Navy and stationed in Washington, D.C.
Myrna graduated from Wichita East High School on June 1, 1950 and on June 18th she married Donald Gene Reber. They lived their first year in Harper, Kansas and Don was employed by Bond Bread Co. The next year they lived on the Reber farm two miles north of Anthony. It was quite a change for a city girl to move to the country. . . with no running water and no bathroom. A girlfriend of Myrna’s remarked after visiting, “she must really love him.”
Three children were born to Don and Myrna when they lived in the country, northwest of Anthony, Robert Alan, Rebecca June, and Debra Jean. After outgrowing that house, they purchased a small acreage on the west edge of Anthony. The house had three bedrooms, one bathroom, and city water. Myrna used to joke that she thought she had died and gone to Heaven. Two more children were born to them when they lived in this house, James Chris and Dea Ann. After outgrowing another house . . . in March of 1966, they bought “the big white house on the corner” on North Springfield. It was while living there the children grew to adulthood, attended college, married, and had children of their own. It was a big house for two people, but not big enough when all of the family came home for the holidays.
At the age of 10, Myrna became a Christian. When she was 19 she was immersed into Christ and has been a member of the Christian Church of Anthony since that time. She has been active in the church serving as Sunday School teacher of children and adults and Vacation Bible School teacher and director. She is an original member of the Hannah Group, a ladies circle in the church, and was active in Christian Women’s Fellowship. She was a Deaconess for many years and during that time was in charge of the nursery. Prayers and Squares was a very worthwhile ministry that she was involved with.
Myrna happily served as church secretary for many years under several ministers. She enjoyed her employment as Society Editor at the Anthony Republican where she worked for ten years.
Myrna joined the Epsilon Sigma Alpha Sorority in 1951 in Harper. She later transferred to the Eta Alpha Chapter in Anthony. She thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and sisterhood of this organization. Its members were her sisters. She served her chapter in all offices and committees. She also served on the zone/district and state levels and was state convention co-chairman. “Sorority was my hobby,” she believed.
When her children were in 4-H she was a cooking and sewing leader and made many of the girls’ dresses. She even made Debby’s wedding dress. She and Don attended as many of the kids’ (and grandkids’) school activities as possible.
As a family they enjoyed “meals to the fields,” and family vacations in the “Reber sleeper,” a fold out camping trailer.
Myrna started taking piano lessons at the age of 72, but would tell anyone that it was very hard and you need to start when you are young! Through the years she enjoyed swimming, playing cards (especially canasta), traveling, and visiting with friends. The trip to Europe with Peggy and Larry Prouse was a trip of a lifetime. Bible study classes were an important part of her life. She would urge everyone to come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
On January 12, 2023, Myrna passed away, surrounded by her family, at the Anthony Community Care Center at the age of 91. She was preceded in death by her parents; brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Bette Dobbins; sister-in-law, Patrice Dobbins; son-in-law, Jim Oller; and great-granddaughter, Karalyn Smith.
Myrna will be deeply missed by her husband of 72 years, Don Reber of Anthony; her children: Bob Reber and wife, Lori Ann, of Great Bend, Becky Smith and husband, Don, of Olathe, Debby Oller Rodger and husband, Gary, of Sterling, Jim Reber and wife, Laurie, of Wichita, and Dea Ann Ackermann and husband, Dan, of Cleveland, MO; 11 grandchildren: Lesley Bruce, Brian Smith and wife, Shannon, Kelley Smith, Kevin Oller and wife, Wendy, Mark Smith and wife, Leslie, Jessica Bradley and husband, Dave, Janea Severns and husband, Greg, Darrin Ackermann and wife, Courtney, Jameson Reber and wife, Christine, Danielle Latchford and husband, Dustin, and adopted granddaughter, Mathilde Godinez; 17 great-grandchildren; brothers: Dave Dobbins and wife, Diana, of Wichita and Tom Dobbins and wife, Shelly, of Lincoln, NE; other relatives; and many friends.
Funeral service was held 11:00 a.m. Monday, January 16, 2023 at the Christian Church in Anthony, Kansas with Pastor Ed Preston officiating. Bob Reber gave the eulogy and Tom Dobbins shared “Keep Your Fork.” The congregation sang “Joy to the World” accompanied by Doris McPherson on the piano. “Beyond the Sunset,” recorded by the Gaithers was played.
Burial followed in Forest Park Cemetery, Anthony. Casket bearers were Brian Smith, Mark Smith, Kevin Oller, Jameson Reber, Darrin Ackermann, and Dave Bradley.
Memorials in memory of Myrna may be made to Country Living Inc., Anthony Community Care Center, or Anthony Christian Church, and can be sent in care of Prairie Rose Funeral Home, 602 E. Main St., Anthony, KS 67003.