Skip to content Skip to footer



Story written by Steve Robinson for the Claremore Museum of History in conjunction with Women’s History Month at the MoH 2024 along with excerpts from Mrs. Vierheller’s obituary and input from her granddaughter, Michelle Vierheller Johnson.

Verna Vierheller was born to George W. and Elva Jean Killian Lyon on Feb. 23, 1911. She graduated from Buffalo High School in 1929, and married William “Alfred” Vierheller on May 21, 1929. They moved to Claremore in 1947. Verna became involved in the community as soon as she moved to the area.  She became involved with Home Extension work and 4-H. Verna had a love of music, and when she found out the Tiawah School had no music program, she volunteered to teach vocal music. She then went to work for Farm Bureau and managed the office for 11-1/2 years. It was at Farm Bureau Verna got her interest in politics.

She ran for State Representative in 1961 and volunteered for both Henry Bellmon and Dewey Bartlett during their senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns. She proudly donned the red blazers for the parades dressed as “Dewey Dolls and Bellmon Belles”. Verna was quite the trendsetter as it was unusual for women in that day, especially Republican women, to openly step out and take on political roles. Mrs. Vierheller also served as a State Committeewoman. 

While Liz Gordon was serving as Claremore’s Mayor, Verna was asked to serve on the Senior Task Force. She served with the National Council of Catholic Women, including Board membership from 1955-1989, and started the parish loaning library, making available a selection of reading material on theology. prayer. Scripture, church history, and more. That library now consists of more than 475 volumes. 

In 1971, Verna got involved as a volunteer at the Claremore Regional Hospital. She began the family waiting room and a “Cheer Lad” program to assist those waiting for news of loved ones in surgery. She became the Director of Volunteers in 1980, a position she held for three years. Verna also helped to organize the Rogers County Mental Health Association and served on the State Mental Health Association for three years. She received the Diana Award for outstanding service from the ESA. As Verna would say and live by, “If you can do something for someone else, you do it for the Lord.”

Another significant effort that Verna helped lead that is still giving back to our community is the Meals on Wheels Program. Verna began the Meals-on-Wheels program in Claremore, where she served as president and coordinator for 10 years. Claremore is a caring community, and Meals on Wheels volunteers prove it. This people-driven program has provided free nutritious meals for Claremore clients since 1978. The program began when a group from St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church, including Verna, were searching for a service project. Fellow committee members T. Gavin King, Carol Diebolt, Betty Lowrance and Gwen Liebl saw a need to feed neighbors who couldn’t get out of their homes or prepare their own meals. Meals on Wheels volunteers have continued to prepare and deliver free hot meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, weather permitting for over 46 years. 

Verna was the organist at Christ the King Catholic Church (the original location on Patti Page) and continuing at St. Cecilia’s for a total of 44 years of service until she retired to Franciscan Villa at age 82.   At the Villa, she continued to play the organ and ran the Gift Shop until her passing in 2000 at age 89.

One of her granddaughter Michelle Vierheller Johson’s favorite memories of her grandmother was an incident involving her parlor. As grandchildren, they were not allowed in the parlor or to sit on that furniture.  It was strictly for entertaining. In the late 60’s, Michelle’s father, Ed Vierheller was selected to be honored as Father of the Year by the Claremore Progress. Mr. Ed was unaware of the pending announcement, so his kids were sworn to secrecy.  Pat Reeder contacted Michelle’s mother to arrange a family photo which would appear in the Progress on Father’s Day.  The only logical location for this very important picture was Verna’s parlor. That parlor was iconic in so many ways.  It was decorated in French Provincial furnishings with pink brocade upholstery.  It had hosted political teas when she was a “Doll” and “Belle” and campaigned for countless key politicians and legislation.  This was a momentous occasion for her grandchildren.  They met Pat Reeder, assembled themselves on the couch, took the photograph and got out of the room as quickly as they could!  That was the only time that Michelle could recall that we were allowed to sit on that couch.

Ironically, some 30 years later when Michelle and her husband purchased their home in Mississippi, they immediately painted their parlor pink and decorated it in pink furnishings.  It was strictly off limits to her grandkids and pets.  Suddenly she realized why her grandmother had made the rule – no children in the parlor!

Claremore Museum of History© 2024