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Deb Vanderheiden

Debra “Deb, Debbie” L. Vanderheiden, age 61, of Aurora, NE, died on Monday, October 16, 2017, at her home.

A Funeral service is planned for Saturday, October 21st at10:30 A.M.at the United Methodist Church in Aurora, followed immediately by burial at the Aurora Cemetery and returning for a luncheon at the church. Rev. Karla Sheffy will officiate. Visitation will be on Friday from 5 – 7 P.M. at the United Methodist Church, 1104 A Street. In lieu of flowers, Deb requested that memorials be made to the Heartland Cancer Foundation or Aurora Adopt-A-Pet in her memory. Higby-McQuiston Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family through the mortuary website at www.higbymortuary.com.


Deb was born on August 18, 1956 in Grand Island, to Jim and Marilyn (Wilson) McDonald. She graduated from Aurora High School in 1974. One evening, Deb noticed a dashing young man driving his orange Datsun 240-Z. Soon thereafter, she introduced herself by bringing brownies to him at Century Manufacturing where he worked and the rest is history. On September 25th, 1976, Deb and her soulmate Jerry Vanderheiden were joined in marriage. Together, they played in several bands, Deb on keyboard and Jerry on guitar.

Deb attended Kearney State College where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1981. She worked for many years at the 4-H Extension Office and as a substitute teacher in Aurora. In 1993, Jerry and Deb opened Jerry’s Music where she taught piano lessons. She then worked as an Assistant Manager at Casey’s General Store, where she just celebrated her 15th anniversary. She loved the daily interaction with customers and friends and was known to always have a smile on her face and a kind word for anyone who stopped in.

Deb was a social butterfly who loved music, gardening, her family, friends, and pets. She was a member of the Hamilton County band where she played flute and the United Methodist Church bell choir. She also enjoyed playing the piano. Deb had many horses throughout the years and loved going on long walks with her dog. Deb had quite the green thumb and could be found giving “garden tours” of her beautiful plants and flowers in the summer.

She was preceded in death by her father, Jim McDonald.

Those left to cherish her memory include her husband, Jerry Vanderheiden of Aurora; mother, Marilyn McDonald of Aurora; children, David Vanderheiden of Columbus, Ashley (James) Lantis of Lincoln, and Todd Vanderheiden of Waco; sister, Karen (Dennis) Svoboda of Lincoln; nieces, nephews, other family members, and friends.

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