Many people knew that Omahan Jeanne Percival was a fan of Goodfellows, The World-Herald’s charity.
She encouraged others to donate, including a longtime friend who now lives in Illinois. She also talked about Goodfellows with members of “The Lunch Bunch,” seven women who met in a 500-person Bible study at Westside Church. Members of the bunch even knew her secret to standing out on the donation list that’s printed each day in the newspaper: Give an odd amount, including some change.
Long after the Bible study ended, the women stuck together, sharing way more than lunch.
“We started making a big deal out of birthdays and got to know each other’s families,” said group member Denise Nashleanas. “We’ve been through some really big things in life as a support network to each other.”
Things like divorces, sick kids, the death of a husband and, now, the first passing among the seven. Percival died Sept. 27 at age 72 after a battle with cancer.
“We were devastated,” Nashleanas said. “We’d always known that somebody was going to be the first one, but you somehow don’t believe it.”
The Lunch Bunch was there to help Percival through her illness. She had family in town to supply meals, trips to doctor appointments and other support, so the Bible study friends concentrated on prayer.
“Most of what we did was in the realm of spiritual support and encouragement,” Nashleanas said.
After doctor visits, Percival would call a group member with new prayer requests, knowing they would be petitioning on her behalf. Nashleanas said she was an extremely positive person.
“She never said a bad thing about anybody. Every party was special, everything was good. She was encouraging to us,” Nashleanas said.
After Percival died, Lunch Bunchers decided the best way to honor their friend was to donate money in her memory. They took up a collection and divided it among groups she would have approved of.
One of those groups was Goodfellows, which concentrates on providing one-time emergency aid for people who find themselves in a bind. The charity also distributes holiday meal vouchers and helps parents purchase back-to-school socks and underwear.
Sure enough, when the Lunch Bunch gift and tribute appeared in the paper, it was an unorthodox amount: $65.11.
“Sixty dollars was a portion of what we collected. We wanted people to see her name. We added the $5 and 11 (cents) because her birthday was May 11,” Nashleanas said.
She said Percival would be happy to know her name still was associated with Goodfellows.
“She always wanted to help people who needed it. She was a very thoughtful person.”
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In 1938, Omahans created “Mile o’ Dimes” to raise funds for The World-Herald’s Goodfellows charity. Board members behind the effort are pictured here.
Ray Messler on Dec. 15, 1938.
Goodfellows donors Burdock Fredericton and Brownie Walters made up the Cornhusker Orchestra in 1939.
Betty Litman and Ed Reinhardt on Dec. 1, 1941. Rotary Cleaners had a "Good Fellows" kitty for whenever an employee lost his temper and said something he shouldn't.
Officers of the Foreign Wars contribute to the “Mile o’ Dimes” for The World-Herald’s Goodfellows charity as “Miss Goodfellows” looks on.
Children gather to sing carols for the Goodfellows fund in 1944.
Bill looks at pictures of toys in a catalog.
Members of Beta Sigma Phi, a non-academic sorority, donate to Goodfellows in 1945.
Bill, pictured here in 1945, is a beneficiary of The World-Herald's Goodfellows charity.
On Dec. 7, 1947, two boys look forward to Santa's arrival.
Members of the Omaha Knights hockey team donate to The World-Herald’s Goodfellows fund in 1948. The charity started in the late 1880s and has raised more than $16 million since record-keeping began in 1945.
Gloria and Alfred write a letter to Santa Claus on Dec. 21, 1950.
Linda waits for Santa Claus on Dec. 3, 1951.
A Goodfellows Christmas card from Nov. 14, 1952.
Kenneth and his little sister look at toy ads.
Mary meets Santa Claus on Dec. 7, 1958.
Employees at the South Omaha Post Office urge people to donate to Goodfellows in 1962. From left, they are are John Cupich, Ray Meloccaro and Postmaster John Munnelly.
Restaurateurs Ross Nisi and Eli Caniglia, with two young friends, celebrate a donation to Goodfellows in 1963. The gift was from The Strip Association, a trade group made up of people who ran restaurants on 72nd Street from Dodge to Center Streets.
Pinky, a Nebraska Kennel Club champion, delivers the club’s $200 donation to Goodfellows in 1964.
Mrs. Max Sacks and Mrs. Mike Montello from The World-Herald's Goodfellows charity fill a bag held by Mike Montello, Sokol Lanes manager, dressed as Santa, on Christmas Day, 1966.
World-Herald employee Tim Daughtery accepts donations from James Wightman, Alan Johnson and Michael Henderson from the Gene Eppley Boys Club on Dec. 20, 1967.
From left, Mrs. David Brown, Mrs. Francis Walker and Mrs. Donald Rose, a brigadier and director of Women's Services for the Salvation Army, celebrate the opening of the Salvation Army and the World-Herald Good Fellows Toy Shop. Each day until Christmas, parents of needy families may select gifts for their children. Parents coming to the shop at 1561 Capitol Ave. must demonstrate need. Photo from an edition of The World-Herald on Dec. 21, 1972.
Jermaine, pictured here on Nov. 24, 1982, is one of the beneficiaries of The World-Herald's Goodfellows organization.