Ellene Marie Bright Munger was born in Gravette, AR on Feb. 4, 1925 and passed away, surrounding by loving family, on July 14, 2014. 

She was the daughter of Arthur Leslie Bright and Hazel Marie Swank Bright. She joined an older brother, Max, and a half-sister, Constance Bright Rodaway. When Ellene was two years old, the family returned to live on the family farm near Shubert, where her father was born and raised. In 1939, the family relocated to the Salinas Valley, CA, where Ellene spent the remainder of her life. While she lived in Nebraska only as a child, she always considered this to be her home.

Charles and Rachel Bright, Ellene’s grandparents, homesteaded in the Shubert area in 1869. At that time, the only close towns were Falls City, Brownville, Hillsdale and Aspinwall. The Brights were one of the oldest families in the area. When they arrived at their homestead, there were just acres of waving prairie grass and no trees in sight. Mr. Bright soon established groves of trees on their farm, bringing the rootstock from across the Missouri River, as well as in the surrounding community. The small one-room house was replaced with a larger, welcoming home for their nine children: Mary Bright, Laura Bright Lytle, Clara Bright Steadman, Cora Bright Evans, Amy Bright Evans, Norman Bright, Charles Bright, Clarence Bright and Arthur Bright. 

Ellene was one of 33 first cousins, which all lived in close proximity to the family farm. Times spent with the cousins, of which she was one of the youngest, were her fondest memories. Nedra Stevick (Falls City) and Myron Bright (Auburn) are the two of the band of cousins still in the area.

Ellene, and her husband Bud, made many pleasant journeys back to Nebraska in the years of retirement. On some of those trips, they were joined by their daughter and grandchildren. Ellene’s love of her heritage was passed on to the entire family, making Nebraska home to them also.

Now, Ellene returns home to Prairie Union Cemetery. From the cemetery, one can look across the fields to the farm where she spent her early years and across the road to the church she attended. She will be laid to rest next to her husband, Bud, and in the company of her grandparents, father and relatives. 

She is home at last. 

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 12. at Prairie Union Cemetery, officiated by Fr. David Bourek.

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