Verena “Vee” Hannah Althaus, daughter of William Valentine Althaus and Hannah Weitzel Edwards, was born on 14 August 1897 in Revere (Blue Jay), a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, and baptized at the Miamitown Methodist Church. By 1900, Vee’s family had moved to Westwood where she attended Westwood School. She was thought to be a “sickly” child, so her father enrolled her in a German Turnverein (gymnasium) to improve her health and size; an experience she loved! About 1908, the family moved to 3230 Montana where she lived through graduation from Hughes High School in 1915.

From 1915 to 1918, Vee took the street car from Westwood to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music for a piano degree. She said she would have preferred to do something more active; but her father thought music a “proper” female occupation. She and fellow students, Marie and Jane Kolker, were recruited by the Ministerial Alliance of Cincinnati as an entertainment troop in World War I. They played the piano and violin, sang, told stories, and did skits for army camps in several states. Vee reported harrowing experiences on winding roads in West Virginia.

Vee Althaus Wright
Vee Althaus Wright, 1918, 1941, and 1997, age 100
Photo in the collection of Carol Whitton
Used with permission

On 24 August 1921, in Dayton, Ohio, Verena Hannah Althaus married John “Jack” Dewitt Wright, son of Paris B. Wright and Nancy Mathilda McClintock. Work took Jack and Vee to St. Louis where sons Jim and John were born. In St. Louis, Jack became involved with the Boy Scouts and became a field officer in the St. Louis Council. In 1929, Jack became chief executive of the Omaha Boy Scout Council, moving the family to Nebraska. In 1935, Jack came back to St. Louis as chief executive of the St. Louis BSA Council. They lived at 330 Planthurst in Webster Groves.

Along with homemaking and raising sons, Vee volunteered as a Brownie leader, belonged to the Book of the Month Club, and entertained Jack’s staff twice yearly. After happily celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary in August, on 23 September 1946, Jack died suddenly.

Vee bought a smaller house at 215 South Gray Avenue and began working as bookkeeper for Red Lamore Body Shop, to qualify for Social Security, and she worked as visiting secretary for Webster Groves Presbyterian Church. From 1957 to 1961, Vee opened her home to five university students from Hawaii who joined the family on holidays. Her favorite activity was flower gardening.

Vee retired in 1964 and began her desired life. She volunteered as a missionary at a home for wayward girls in Fairbanks, Alaska, then as a missionary’s secretary in South Korea. She travelled to Switzerland for Althaus genealogical research in 1973.

In 1977, she chose an Ohio retirement home because she still had friends and relatives around Cincinnati. Her activities included speaking about her trips, gardening, reading, sorting mail in the home’s office, and, until age ninety-eight, driving! Vee’s 100th birthday celebration at Mount Healthy Christian Home in August 1997 was enjoyed by many family and friends.

Vee lived into her third century! She died on 16 October 2000 at Mt. Healthy Christian Home at age 103. She’s buried in St. Louis with her husband at Oak Hill Cemetery in Kirkwood.

Written by Carol Whitton
April 2017

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 19:42