Mandy Friend Venable, 97, daughter of August Charles and Sealy Ann Pryor Friend Keeney, was born May 19, 1905, at Venable. She died Dec. 25, 2002, at Houston House, where she had been a resident for two years. She grew up in the Venable community, graduating from Venable Elementary School with only three days attendance in her eighth year. Her father died when she was young and at an early age she cut logs and worked in the mills making railroad ties to help her mother support the family of eight children. She married Charley Venable Sept. 25, 1926. They had seven children. They started their life together in the Plum Valley area before purchasing a farm in the Venable community, where they raised chickens, pigs, sheep and goats plus milking cows and selling cream and eggs to make ends meet. Mrs. Venable worked hard in the fields and in the large garden she loved, to help feed the family during hard times. She canned everything from the garden and fruit orchard, picking wild berries so the family could have winter foods, never uttering a complaint. During World War II and the opening of Fort Leonard Wood Army Base, she went to work as a cook for the soldiers, working the night shift. She remained there for several years. In 1951, the Venables began operating a grocery store at Highways 17 and AA at Bucyrus and in the early ’60s, the Wye City Grocery was opened at Success. She continued operating the grocery at Bucyrus after her husband’s death until Sept. 17, 2000. Her day began at 5 a.m. and ended at 5:30 p.m. seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Her way of doing business was not necessarily today’s. If they didn’t have money, she told them to pay when they could, no signature required. The little customers were always treated with gum, candy or ice cream. For her kindness to a young boy named Leland Martin, now a country music recording and songwriting artist, a song was composed and recorded in her honor. “”The Angel”” is Martin’s appreciation of Mrs. Venable’s way of helping others. Mrs. Venable loved sewing, crocheting and embroidering, giving away to others what she made. She loved collecting knickknacks, owls being her favorite. In the establishing of the Roby Fire Department, she would sell more raffle tickets than all others combined. She also helped in collecting the annual fire dues for several years. Jan. 31, 1998, near the age of 93, she was a semifinalist for the 8th annual Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations “”Missouri Older Worker of the Year.”” Then Rep. Doug Gaston presented Mrs. Venable with the house resolution recognizing her as one of Missouri’s Outstanding Senior Employees of 1998. The Missouri Legislature passed the resolution declaring Jan. 31 at Mandy Venable Day. She was honored on that day by the Texas County Division of Aging as the oldest living Texas County merchant. Approximately 300 friends came by to congratulate her that day. She lived all of her life in Texas County in the Ellis Prairie community. She was called the “”historian of Texas County”” as there are very few people and happenings she didn’t know. She accepted Jesus as her savior in the ’40s at a revival at the Ellis Prairie Baptist Church. She was baptized in the Big Piney River at Dog’s Bluff with her husband and three of her children. At age 93, she spent her first overnight in the hospital. Sept. 17, 2000, at age 95, she opened her store for two hours even though she wasn’t feeling well. By 1 p.m. she was on her way to the hospital. At 10 p.m., she asked (for the first time in her life) for a pain pill stronger than aspirin. After a brief stay there, she requested to be taken to Houston House until she got on her feet again. This never happened. She was preceded in death by her husband in 1984, her parents and stepfather, Bob Keeney; Roy Dean, an infant son; a grandson; four brothers, Henry Friend, John Friend, Charley Friend and Sherman Friend; two sisters, Oma Lapin and Goldie, who died at age 12 in 1921; three step-sisters, Ethel Welch, Avon Lotz and Addie Scott; and one step-brother, Wesley Keeney. Surviving are one son, Charles Andrew of Houston; five daughters, Frances Irene Hein of Bakersfield, Calif., Virginia Mae Martin of Dixon, Mary Ellen Higashi of Success, Hazel Berniece Pridgen of Fresno, Calif., Sharon Kaye Heffley of Redding, Calif.; one sister, Minnie Rennick of Licking; one stepsister, Delta Krewson of Licking; one step-brother, Ben Keeney of Licking; 19 grand-children, 34 great-grandchildren, nine great-great-grandchildren and her daily customers whom she dearly loved and enjoyed talk-ing with for hours. Services were Dec. 30 at the Evans Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Wesley Wallace officiating. Burial was in the Ellis Prairie Cemetery. “

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