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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Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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