Velda Luna (Lewis) Breakey – 1996 Inductee

Named for her mother Luna Warner, Luna Velda Lewis was born on her grandfather Walter Warner’s homestead south of the Solomon River bridge near Downs in Ross Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  This homestead would be Velda’s home for the rest of her life.

The daughter of Frank Lewis, Velda was born September 27, 1885, into a family rich in love and caring for each other.  She attended country school and graduated from Downs High School in 1909.  Velda taught in rural schools for several years, then taught the third grade in Downs at the South School for a number of years.

Velda attended Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan and then decided upon a second profession.  She went on to become one of the first female chiropractors in the area.  A personal friend of Doctor and Mrs. Palmer, she graduated from the Palmer School of Chiropractic Medicine in Davenport, Iowa, and established an office in Downs.  In later years this office was maintained in her home.

Velda married Joseph E. Breakey on March 4, 1919.  They had four children, Eldon, Lewis, Inez, and Lillian.  Left a widow by her husband’s sudden death in April of 1932, Velda remained active in community affairs.  She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Parent-Teacher’s Association, serving several terms as P.T.A. president.  In addition, she continued management of the family farm, raising “some of the best corn ever grown in Osborne County.”  This corn came from seed brought to Kansas by her Grandfather Warner.

Velda’s name later became synonymous with service to youth.  Between 1931 and 1947 she opened her home to nine foster children.  She was a leader of the Solomon Valley 4-H Club for many years.  During World War II she began teaching again on a wartime certificate, due to the shortage of regular teachers.  She also became associated with the Girl Scouts.  After the Elm Creek school was closed, she purchased the school building and con­vinced others in the community to turn it into a meeting place for both the Boy and Girl Scouts of the Downs area.

After her children were grown, Velda began a hobby of making clay models of birds and small animals, using clay found on her own farm.  She had a class for forty Girl Scouts.  After her death a collection of birds found their way to the Scout house to assist the Scouts in the identification of birds and helping them in earning their nature badge.

On August 9, 1951, a Thursday afternoon, Velda was fatally burned while trying to relight the pilot light on a water heater in the basement of her home.  She passed away the next day at a hospital in Beloit, Kansas, at the age of sixty-six.  Her burial was in the Downs Cemetery.

Velda is remembered by her peers as a community leader who always had the welfare of children and youth foremost in her mind.  Her community spirit can serve as a lesson to all.

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