Vera Odum Rufenacht, 90, of Coldwater, Mich., passed away Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at her home in Coldwater.
A memorial service and visitation for friends will be held at a later date. Private family interment will take place at a later date at the Waldron Cemetery.
Vera donated her body to the University of Michigan Medical School.
She was born Feb. 16, 1930, in Hubert to the late James Carl and Carrie Belle Glancy Odum. She was raised on a farm near Queen’s Creek, an estuary abundant in seafood.
Her philosophy of “If it’s worth doing it, it’s worth doing it right” served her well as she was the salutatorian of the Swansboro class of 1948, where she was a member of four championship basketball teams. She graduated as valedictorian of the Greenville, S.C., School of Nursing, class of 1951, and began a career as a surgical nurse that included hospitals in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado and Michigan.
She married Duane C. Rufenacht in Swansboro Sept. 13, 1959, and they enjoyed 60 years of marriage.
She is survived by her husband; sons, Joel Rufenacht and wife Pam Wilkes Kauffman, Peter and Carol Rufenacht, Jacob Rufenacht and Ben and wife Jenny Rufenacht; grandchildren, Allison Rufenacht, Luke Rufenacht, Rachel Rufenacht, Avery Rufenacht, Megan Rufenacht, Noah Rufenacht and Ethan Rufenacht; great-grandchild, Melody Vera Mitchell; step-grandchildren, Zachariah and wife Catie Wilkes, Zebediah and wife Brandy Wilkes and Jeremiah and wife Ashley Wilkes; and stepgreat-grandchildren, Luke Wilkes, October Wilkes, Coraline Wilkes, Liam Wilkes and Rowan Wilkes. She is also survived by her brother, James Sherwin and wife Charlene Odum; sister-in-laws, Lorraine Odham and Helen Odum; and many nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her parents and two brothers, Malcolm C. Odham and Wayne D. Odum.
She was baptized at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Swansboro and transferred membership to Salem Mennonite Church and later to First Presbyterian Church and was active in all three organizations. She was very involved in her children’s activities, was a American Red Cross volunteer, enjoyed cooking seafood, baking, especially custard pumpkin pies, teaching Bible school, birdwatching, traveling and gardening and was a consummate stock investor.
She was an original volunteer in the Harvard Medical School Nurses’ Health Study that led to many new medical findings. She had an abiding dislike of germs, house dirt and copperhead snakes. She spent much of her married life in Waldron, Mich., and later she and Duane retired to Coldwater Lake. They developed an interest in nut growing and spent many days tending 10 acres of walnut trees.
Memorials may be made to the American Red Cross, Presbyterian Women, the Waldron District Library or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements are by VanHorn-Eagle Funeral Home of Hillsdale, Mich. For online condolences, please visit www.eaglefuneralhomes.com.