Vera Sue Bailey Cunningham was born in Yates Center, Kansas on January 10, 1941; the only daughter of Burton Lecester and Margaret Elizabeth (Morgan) Adamson. The granddaughter of German immigrants who as children, were brought to Kansas on the Orphan Train, Vera shared with her children many stories of her grandparents, whom she dearly loved. She grew up in the Toronto, Kansas area in a limestone farmhouse and fondly spoke of growing up on Big Sandy in Woodson County. Holidays back to the home place included treks through the timber to find the natural spring well and to explore the places she and her little brother, Leon would haunt.
At the age of 14, Vera moved into Toronto with her grandparents and started working at the local grocery store. She had an infectious personality and loved the people of the community. Her father ran the local Billiard Hall and that is where she met and fell in love with Donald F. Bailey. After graduating from Toronto High School in 1959, they married on August 22 of that year.
In 1967, the couple moved to Burden, Kansas. Setting deep roots, Don and Vera raised three daughters and made beautiful, lifelong friends in the area. Vera worked for Clocks Medical Supply while attending college at Cowley Junior College where she received her LPN. She found a passion for people working at the Kansas State Hospital for 15 years. Through her work, she taught her daughters about compassion and care and to speak up for those who could not. Several times, in her daughters’ memories their dad would bring home someone who needed a home cooked meal and a clean set of clothing. Vera would get right to work feeding the stomach and blessing the soul.
Vera grew up participating in 4-H and shared her love of sewing and cooking with her daughters and the Burden 4-H club. Many grand champion ribbons were won under the lessons Vera passed on from her mother and grandmother. Her flare for fashion was evident in her lavish creations, from prom dresses, wedding gowns, and her exquisite crafting of fascinator caps and crowns. She expanded her creativity to include bridal bouquets and floral arrangements all from her tiny dining room. Her love for creating beauty was evident in her daughters, her sewing, her home, and her appearance. Vera had an eye for fashion, jewelry, and lipstick! She sold Mary Kay Cosmetics, hosting parties and skin care classes for many years, passing on the love of beautiful things to her daughters and countless women. It was important to her that women knew that class had nothing to do with money and everything to do with how a woman carried herself.
After Don’s passing in 1988, Vera took a trip to the home of one of her daughters in Skagway, Alaska. Soaking in the beautiful country and culture, Vera extended her stay through the tourist season, and began a fun summer job at a local jewelry store. She loved learning about the different gemstones and jewels and became quite versed in their identification and value. After returning home, she used her experience in Alaska to start her own jewelry business. She did her research, sold her home, and moved to San Antonio, Texas where she started her mobile kiosk jewelry business at Lackland Airforce Base. She assisted young airmen with engagement rings and decked out high ranking air force personnel for many an occasion. She had fond memories of the Lt. Colonel who came often because she loved the brooches Vera offered. They became friends and enjoyed conversation over jewelry.
It was during her work in Texas that she met Ronald Cunningham. He was a beautiful addition to the family and loved her girls and grandchildren. They married on January 24, 2003 in Lexington, Kentucky and later moved back to Vera’s hometown of Toronto, KS. They were both involved in the community. They attended the Toronto United Methodist Church, participated in Veterans Association activities, and served on the Toronto Library board.
Ron passed in 2017 and Vera found herself spending time in her garden. As a young mother, her vegetable garden was crucial to feeding her family, and she taught her daughters how to can produce and store up for the winter. As years passed, her garden consisted more of beautiful flowers and plants. She had the ability to put a sickly-looking plant into a pot of soil and out came beauty.
Vera had a way with people. She loved to visit over coffee and sometimes if something or someone needed lined out, Vera would not hold back in making sure the situation or attitude was corrected. She could be mule headed stubborn and generous to a fault. She was immensely proud of her family and spoke often of the legacy she would be leaving behind. Such beautiful people she would say.
Vera’s relationship with the Lord Jesus was evident, crucial, and sustaining. She breathed her last breath on December 31, 2020. Her legacy remains; daughters Yvonne Whitehill and husband, David of Latham, KS, Leah Nicholas Mitchell and husband, Mark of Udall, KS, and Paula Yaussi and husband, Rick also of Udall, KS. Her eight grandchildren Jessica Shearer (John), Joshua Whitehill (Haley), Morgan Nicholas (Lindsie), Zachary Nicholas (Chelsea), Bailey Yaussi, Bo Yaussi, Klay Yaussi and Kash Yaussi and ten great-grandbabies, her brother, Leon Adamson (Bobbie), sister-in-law Mary Lee Adamson-McFarland. She is preceded in death by her husbands, parents, and two brothers.
Memorial services will be held at 2:00 P.M. Friday, January 15, 2021 at the Shelley Family Funeral Home of Winfield, there will be a time of visitation from 1-2 P.M. prior to the service. Memorial contributions may be made to the Toronto United Methodist Church and the Toronto Library Fund, contributions may be left in care of the funeral home.
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