Acey Oberly, Jr., 79, died Monday evening at Fairview Hospital in Burnsville, Minnesota. Acey was born to Acey Oberly, Sr. and Eva Winnerchy Oberly on September 9, 1940 in Lawton, OK. Acey was a proud member of the Comanche and Osage Nations. He learned to speak Comanche from his mom and grandmother Nellie Tissoyo. He became a fluent speaker through translating for his grandmother.
He attended and graduated from Walters High School. He enjoyed all sports, and in his senior year Junior (as he was referred to by his family) earned all-conference honors for football. After working summers on a work crew cutting wheat in Oklahoma and Kansas, he attended Bacone Junior College in Tahlequah, OK. To help pay his college expenses, he was a part of a work-study program and was assigned to building maintenance. He would often tell the story of how one snowy morning when he was checking on the furnaces, he ran into two young students hurrying across a frozen campus to get to the cafeteria for breakfast. They were the only ones outside in the cold weather except himself. One of the two young ladies was to be his future wife, Thelma Thomas, and her roommate Loretta Samuels Sobotta. Together, Acey and Thelma would participate in the Bacone Indian Choir. They were married on May 27, 1961 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and would remain married for 57 years.
Acey continued his studies after Bacone and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State University. Acey’s first job out of college was Wa-a’yas Community Center Director in Kamiah, Idaho before he began his teaching career at Plummer, Idaho. He began his career with the Bureau of Indian affairs (BIA) in 1968 as an Education Specialist helping high school students get enrolled into college and adult learners earn their GEDs. In 1980, he completed studies at Washington State University earning his Master’s in Education. He continued working for the BIA for the next 39 years in various positions at agencies throughout the northwest. He retired in 2007 from the position of Superintendent at the Yakama Agency in Toppenish, WA.
Acey enjoyed gourd dancing at the Walters Homecoming Pow-wow with his brothers and relatives. He was a member of the Eagle Clan of the Osage Nation as well as the Pihnatukat Band of the Comanche Nation.
Survivors include three daughters: Jorja Oberly Valandra and her husband Howard, of Eagan, MN; Yvonne Oberly of Auburn, WA; and Sonya Oberly of Lewiston, ID; and a grandson, Cato Acey Valandra, of Eagan, MN. His surviving siblings include Margrett Kelley, Sara Oberly, Frank Oberly Sr., Marty Oberly, and Gary Oberly, and numerous nieces and nephews.
His wife Thelma; brother John Oberly, Sr; and two sisters, Nell Yvonne Wahahrockah and Jacqueline Oberly Seymour, preceded him in death.
Funeral services will be held at Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 10 a.m. at the Comanche Nation Funeral Home in Lawton, Oklahoma.