Community , Culture

Elders Series: Elda June “Kimmie” Morrell McNiel

Elda June Morrell McNiel, or Kimmie as she is called, is 84 and lives in Muskogee with her middle son James Michael, or “Mike” as the family calls him. She has a quick wit and funny sense of humor as she explains that he didn’t move in with her to take care of her because she’s old, “I’m not old, I’m still very mobile,” she said with a laugh. She explains that Mike moved in with his family when her husband Calvin passed away on Nov. 4, 2016. She said she still has trouble talking about it.

“I know he’s not going to be back, but I keep looking for him. I don’t think you ever really just get over it when you lose your mate,” she said.

She and her husband lived all over the United States as they were a military family. He served in the U.S. Army and Air Force and retired as a Federal Ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers. They settled in Muskogee in 1973 and she has lived in the same house for 45 years. Together they had three sons, Gene, Mike and Sheldon. They have eight grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.  

She said it’s easy to lose touch with family and home when you’re moving about the country, but she said it’s never too late to catch up. She was recently honored as one of the last remaining full bloods in the Osage Nation. She was born on June 1, 1934, in the Hominy Hospital to full bloods Robert and Grace Penn Morrell. Her mother Grace died when she was just 19 days old. “It’s sad, isn’t it?” she said. She had five siblings and two brothers.

Her maternal grandparents are Albert and Elda Penn. Her paternal grandparents are O-Lo-Hah-Moie and Mo-Se-Che-He. Her paternal great-grandmother is Wah-Hah-Sah-He, who was born in 1837.

Osage News: You were recently honored for being one of the last living Osage full bloods. What was that like?

KM: Not only was it a wonderful honor, but we were making history.


ON: What are your fondest memories of your childhood?

KM: Going to the movies on Saturday, in the rumble seat of my friend’s car.


ON: How much has the world changed since you were young?

KM: Very simple: Today it’s fast paced and a very technical world.


ON: Who are your heroes?

KM: Servicemen and their families. They have to sacrifice a lot.


ON: What was the happiest moment of your life?

KM: When our sons grew up and went out on their own, and are successful.


ON: Who, or what, did you love the most?

KM: To be able to use my talent (piano) the Lord gave me in churches, etc.


ON: What is your favorite thing to do for fun?

KM: I liked to skate at the portable rinks that came to Hominy.


ON: What was your favorite decade and why?

KM: Your more mobile and healthier decades, but I’m glad I’m here now!


ON: What world events had the most impact on you?

KM: Wars left an impact: too young for WWII but my husband was in Korea and my son Gene was in Vietnam.


ON: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

KM: To encourage others as they get older.


ON: What is your motto?

KM: Try not to find fault in people and try to change them.


ON: What is your greatest regret?

KM: None.