Marcella Mae Kai was born Feb. 19, 1925, in Pender, to William H. and Ida Grace (Frink) Hahlbeck and passed away March 14, 2021, in Lincoln, at the age of 96 years and 23 days.
Marcella grew up in Pender, where she attended and graduated from Pender High School with the Class of 1943. She then went on to attend Morningside College in Sioux City for two years, working as a cadet nurse at a Sioux City hospital. On May 26, 1946, Marcella was united in marriage to her high school sweetheart, Clair Kai, at the Pender United Methodist Church. The couple lived in Winnebago, where they owned a gas station until 1960. They then moved to Seward, where they owned the Sportsmen Bar and later Kai’s Club. Clair passed away in 1969 and Marcella continued to operate the club until 1973, when she sold the business. Marcella worked at several retail stores over the years, but the House of Spirits was her longest place of employment.
Marcella loved to go camping with her family and she enjoyed knitting. She was a member of the Busy Hour Extension Club and the Nit Wits at the Seward United Methodist Church. Marcella enjoyed many different crafts and loved trying new recipes on her children. She also loved collecting elephants, which she had more than 500 different figurines. Family was very important to her and she loved spending as much time as possible with them. Marcella was a long-time member of the Seward United Methodist Church.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Clair; son, Brad; son-in-law, D.W. Duhachek; brother, Donald Hahlbeck.
Marcella is survived by her two daughters, Nedra and husband, Jerry Dickey, Lincoln, Nancy Duhachek, Seward; daughter-in-law, Vicki Kai; seven grandchildren, Kimberlee Gaddis, Kourtney Hullett, Gregg Dickey, Wade Dickey, Eric Duhachek, Brandon Duhachek and Kaci Johnson; 16 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild; sister, Willa Rinehart.
A graveside service and interment was March 19 at the Seward Cemetery. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Kai family for future designations. Condolences may be left for the family at www.zabkafuneralhome.com.