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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Kaltenbach

My Stepmom's Obituary: Vera Jean Elleson

Updated: Jun 25

Vera Jean Elleson, 71, of Pleasant Hill, MO, passed away at her home on February 12, 2005.

Vera Jean (McCoy) Elleson was born to Stuart and Vera McCoy on August 19, 1934, in Minocqua, WI, though she was raised in Tomahawk, WI, along with her older brother, Donald.

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee where she earned a graduate degree in guidance and counseling. For 14 years, she counseled elementary-age children as a school guidance counselor. Vera then graduated with a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri- Columbia. Eventually, she became a licensed psychologist and ran a private practice in Kansas City for 20 years (including one location on The Plaza). Few things made Vera feel more fulfilled than helping her clients to pursue mental health.

Earlier in her life, Vera married James Elleson, with whom she had two children: James Elleson and Jaya (Linda) Elleson. While in Columbia, MO, Vera met her life partner, Mary Lou Kaltenbach of Seneca, KS. After Vera finished her doctoral program, she and Mary Lou moved to Kansas City, where they resided for 22 years. During this season of life, she became a second mother to her stepson, Caleb Wilds Kaltenbach.

Rather than sit idly by, she was a leader both in her local community and the psychology field. A member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Missouri Psychological Association, Vera even helped the APA with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. She was asked to serve on the Board of Directors for three nonprofit organizations: The Good Samaritan Project, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD), and The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA).

In her spare time, Vera enjoyed spending time in Blue Lake, WI, at her family's cabin. She felt at home in nature, as was evident in her hobbies like birding, gardening, and yard work. Even though Vera was teased about how fast she drove, she loved taking drives in scenic areas. Vera could also be found spending time with friends, listening to classical music, watching a musical in the theater, taking in art at a museum, eating at new restaurants, studying philosophy & politics, volunteering for the state Democratic party, enjoying board games, taking naps with her cats, swimming, reading, playing bridge, and rooting for the Chiefs. Vera even started a book club and a bridge club!

During her life, Vera attended a Methodist church, practiced Zen Buddhism, and was a member of and served as a clerk for a Kansas City area Quaker gathering known as The Penn Valley Religious Society of Friends.

Vera was preceded in death by her parents, Stuart and Vera McCoy; and her brother, Donald McCoy. She was survived by her life partner Mary Lou Kaltenbach (who has since passed away); daughter, Jaya (Linda) Elleson; son Jim Elleson; daughter-in-law, Kay Butcher; granddaughters, Lia Joy Sparks, and Liz Calvert; stepson, Caleb Kaltenbach; niece, Donna McCoy; sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, more nieces, nephews, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family, and friends.

Her life was celebrated on Sunday, March 13, 2005, at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church on The Plaza in Kansas City, MO. Soon after, her ashes were sprinkled near the McCoy/Elleson family cabin in Blue Lake, WI.


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