Family, friends and many musicians will gather at the Blair, Neb., VFW at 3 p.m. on Saturday to celebrate the life of longtime music educator Melissa Delaney, 52.
She was found dead Jan. 3 in her Blair home, said her sister, Amy Pirtle of Sheldahl, Iowa. While awaiting autopsy results, Pirtle said the family assumes that, given the suddenness of her death, Delaney suffered a heart attack or stroke.
Delaney taught more than 26 years for the Music in Catholic Schools program, said Debra J. Lund, the program's administrator. The program provides instrumental music classes in Omaha-area Catholic, Lutheran and other private Christian schools.
“Students loved her. She was firm and had high expectations,” Lund said. Delaney especially enjoyed Honor Band concerts, her boss said.
Lund added: “She was an awesome oboe player.”
Delaney grew up playing the oboe like her mother, said Pirtle, but could play all the band instruments.
“Anything to do with music, Melissa loved it. She could get any child interested in music,” the sister said.
Delaney loved summertime — fishing, boating, spending time with family and friends — but was “always excited to go back to school,” Pirtle said.
Delaney was a member of the VFW Auxiliary, Pirtle said. She spent a lot of time at the Blair VFW and planned holiday parties there.
She also was a member of the Nebraska Wind Symphony in the 1990s and of the Blair Community Band.
Delaney graduated from Blair High School, attended Drake University in Des Moines and graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
She was preceded in death a year ago by her husband of 13 years, David Delaney.
Besides Pirtle, other survivors include her brothers, Brent Noel of Oklahoma City and Robert Noel of Council Bluffs; and stepchildren Derek Delaney, Dillon Delaney and Abby Delaney, all of Ericson, Neb.
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