Yoland Monteen (Whiteaker) Reeves

Yoland Monteen (Whiteaker) Reeves

A Life Well Lived

Shortly after celebrating her 95th birthday on November 20th, Yoland Monteen (Whiteaker) Reeves passed away from natural causes on Thursday, December 3, 2020 at Olathe Medical Center in Olathe, Kansas.

She was born to Effie Rena (Wayland) and Claude Richard Whiteaker in Calico Rock, Arkansas and grew up south of town on Whiteaker Mountain where she had to carry water from a spring down the hillside. She lost both of her parents to tuberculosis and pneumonia by the time she was a teenager, so she lived with other families doing odd jobs such as ironing and later working at the local café. By then her older brother Orbie was in the Army and her younger brother, Paul, had contracted TB as well and was hospitalized for a period of time, but survived. On the train coming home, Paul met another young man, John Reeves, who helped him carry his things. The rest, as they say, is history.

Yoland and John (Alex) were married on April 29, 1944 in Melbourne, Arkansas and remained so for 58 years. For the first few years, they searched for work in various places such as Wichita and Russell, Kansas but always returned to Calico Rock where their first three children (Judy, Rick, and Phyllis) were born. Sometimes they picked cotton in southern Arkansas (sitting Judy down to play at the end of the row), but never found steady employment. Finally, in 1952 they moved to Sunflower, Kansas where John worked as a carpenter at Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. Their fourth child (Melinda) was born in 1954 and thus needing more room, they moved to a newly remodeled Sunflower Village house on Pine Street in Eudora, Kansas two years later and became early members of the First Southern Baptist Church. By 1962, they had saved up enough to build their own house and moved up the hill to Cherry Street where they put down permanent roots.

“Homemaker” may be a term that Yoland used on most job applications, but she worked at a variety of jobs outside the home: putting ribbons on cards at Hallmark, as a sales clerk at JCPenney, a soda fountain clerk at Oleson’s Pharmacy, an ammunition inspector, a medical supply worker for Burnett Industries, and a bus driver for special needs students in the Eudora area. In 1964, a daughter (Janice) was born with Downs Syndrome. With tremendous patience and unyielding determination, Yoland dedicated the next 50 years caring for Janice, vastly improving her and other special needs children’s lives.

Yoland never met a flower she didn’t love and usually tried to house many plants through the winter. In the early spring, she loved to find daffodils just starting to come up (like the one that she had dug up and brought from Whiteaker Mountain) as well as looking for cardinals, her favorite bird, returning in the spring. She was especially fond of peonies and irises later in the spring as well as flowering dogwoods and lilac bushes. Besides gardening, she enjoyed quilting, crocheting, and embroidering, creating well over 100 pieces. And she baked a bundt cake that would melt in your mouth, which she often gave to family, friends, and neighbors who helped her.

She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, Orbie and Paul Whiteaker, her husband, John Reeves, and two daughters, Phyllis Clary and Janice Reeves and son-in-law Danny Samuels.

She is survived by the following families and generations:

Her daughter Judy Samuels of Topeka, KS and grandson John (Jessica) and great-grandson Mackey Samuels; and grandson David (Leslie) and great-grandchildren Grace, Dalton, and Evalyn Samuels all of Topeka.

A son John “Rick” Reeves (Marsha) of Olathe, KS and granddaughters, Kate Reeves (Joseph Diaz) of Overland Park, KS and granddaughter Rachel Reeves of Washington, D.C.

Her daughter Melinda (John) Nunez of Lawrence KS, and granddaughter Adrianne Nunez (Jaron Ruckman) and great-granddaughter Juniper Nunez of Lawrence, KS; step-grandson Rick Nunez and step-great grandchildren Nina, Alexandria, and Matthew; step-granddaughter Dionne (Steve) Chavez and step-great-grandchildren Sarah and Andrew; step-grandson Chris Nunez and step great-grandchildren Luke, Simone and Isabella – all of Lawrence, KS; and step-granddaughter Yvette (John) Herrera and step- great granddaughter Sophia of Kansas City, MO.

Phyllis’s children:

A grandson Geoff (Amanda) Clary of Lee’s Summit, MO and great-granddaughters Riley and Abby Clary.

A granddaughter Andrea (Jason) Murkin of Kingsville, MO and great-grandchildren Kiersten, Jenna, and Wyatt Murkin.

In lieu of flowers that will soon fade in the winter, the family suggests planting daffodil bulbs now that will come up next spring and for may springs thereafter or make a donation to local food banks or Cottonwood Inc. 2801 W 31 St, Lawrence, KS 66047.

Public visitation will be from 10AM-12PM on Saturday December 12, 2020 at Warren-McElwain Chapel in Eudora, KS. Private family visitation will be from 12-1:30PM. Graveside services will start at 2PM at Eudora Cemetery. Please follow the CDC’s recommendations (wear a mask and observe social distancing) at any and all of these services.

12 Condolences

  1. Connie Gabriel Snider on December 9, 2020 at 10:40 am

    Judy and Rick, what an amazing life your mom lived. May your memories bring you great peace.

  2. Linda Abel on December 9, 2020 at 10:54 am

    What a beautiful love story for a beautiful lady. Deepest sympathy to the family.

    Linda Abel
    Melinda’s classmate

  3. Pam Carter on December 9, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Melinda, I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. I know your life is very stressful right now, take care of yourself and know I think of you and John often.

  4. Marlene (McCoy) Bendon on December 9, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    So sorry to see the loss of Yoland. Prayers for her family. Thinking of you all

  5. Kathe Benschoter Clark on December 9, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Melinda, sorry to learn of your mom’s passing. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Deepest sympathy to all.

  6. Danny and Becky Shockley on December 9, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Judy, Rick, Melinda and families,
    I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I have such wonderful memories of the Reeves family. Please accept our condolences and may our prayers help comfort you.

  7. Tracy Dethloff on December 10, 2020 at 4:26 am

    Sorry for your loss Melinda.

  8. Kenneth and Margaret McCoy on December 10, 2020 at 11:22 am

    So sorry for the loss of your sweet mother. She was so kind and cheerful. Beautiful inside and out. Prayers for you all . Love you all.

  9. Bobbi Turnage on December 11, 2020 at 9:18 am

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful and loving lady.
    Yoland will be missed by so many.
    Our love and condolences to your family.
    John and Bobbi Turnage

  10. Rozann Wadleigh on December 11, 2020 at 10:00 am


    What a tribute to your mother. I wish you much joy in your memories of her. May she rest in peace.

    Rozann Nusbaum Wadleigh

  11. Kaye on December 12, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Judy, Rick and Melinda

    Your sweet mom was a special lady, soft gentle voice, kind and gracious. I always enjoyed chatting with her. She was very proud of each of you. A beautiful quilter but always reluctant to show off her work. We are all blessed to have known her.

    sending our hugs and prayers but wishing we could do it personally

    Kaye and John Spitzli

  12. Glenda Thurber on December 12, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Your mom made my mom laugh. They were best friends for years. They enjoyed hamburgers at the Dairy Queen! So sorry for your loss.
    Glenda Thurber

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