Vickie Aileen Vanness completed her earthly journey on Saturday, August 19, 2023 at the age of 66. She was born April 2, 1957 to parents William (Bill) and Violet Browning, at Chanute Air Force Base hospital in Champagne County, Illinois. Her birth has become part of family lore because her parents married young with the promise not to have children right away, yet eleven months later Vickie made her appearance. The small family stayed in Illinois for two years before being transferred to Amarillo, Texas and adding Vickie’s sister Nancy to the mix. Throughout her childhood, Vickie lived with her family in Illinois, Texas, Guam, Arkansas, and South Dakota. The Browning family was complete when Vickie’s youngest sibling and only brother, Chuck, arrived in 1963. Her childhood consisted of family camping trips and cross-country road trips, often in the back of a pickup truck. They traveled to Washington state to visit family, and with each trip they took different routes to the northwest so they could visit national parks and various cities and sites along the way.
Vickie’s parents were the youth pastors of the Protestant Youth of the Chapel on Little Rock Air Base which meant Vickie and her siblings were regularly involved in church life such as camps, Bible studies, and service projects. As part of Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church, Vickie, along with Nancy, were members of a traveling youth choir - The Reachout Singers. Vickie enjoyed being a part of Girl Scouts and playing the flute in the school band, eventually becoming a majorette. During her senior year of high school the family was transferred to South Dakota so Vickie graduated as a Patriot from Douglass High School in 1975.
Besides a brief time living in California as a young adult, Vickie lived in Arkansas the rest of her life. As a young professional, Vickie spent a lot of time with her family, friends, and church community. She had two young nieces, Jamie and Amber, who thought she hung the moon. Vickie would regularly plan ‘special weekends’ with each of the girls. These were weekends full of fun - singing along with the Monkees, shopping, glamour shots, movies, and more.
Square dancing with the Boomerang chapter in North Little Rock became a regular pastime for Vickie and her parents and they often took along Vickie’s two young nieces. It was at a square dance that Vickie met the love of her life. Van belonged to another chapter but would occasionally attend dances with the Boomerangs. He was hesitant to approach Vickie, assuming the two young girls she had with her were her daughters. Eventually he overcame his hesitation and after a night of dancing he asked her out for coffee, even inviting her parents to join. It was the beginning of Vickie and Van’s love story and many years of precious friendship between Vickie and Van and Bill and Vi. The two couples traveled often around the country for square dancing conventions, sharing hotel rooms and making wonderful memories.
Van and Vickie married on February 22, 1991, after dating for 5 months. The couple married at the same United Methodist Church the Browning family had attended for years. They honeymooned in Kentucky, and began life together in their house on Vanness Drive, the only home the two ever shared. Vickie gained more than a husband when she married Van, on the same day she also became a mom to her two daughters, Gini and Julie, and her son, Joey. While blending a family is never easy, Vickie’s gentle manner and ever-present kindness won over the hearts of her new children. Julie laughs now as she remembers the way the household changed when Vickie came along. Suddenly there were new pictures and sconces on the walls, and dusting to be done. Looking through pictures -there are a lot of pictures because Vickie was the family photographer - brings back memories of birthday parties, family dinners, gardening projects, camping, and fishing.
The family adjusted to life together while also living through painful seasons. Vickie is preceded in death by son Joey, who passed in 1994. Her daughters continued to grow into young women, married, had children, made lives for themselves. Vickie’s grandchildren were some of her greatest treasures. Gini’s oldest son, Aidan, was the first to come along, making Vickie a ‘MawMaw’. In the following years Molli, Tyler, and Ethan were born. MawMaw was present for every milestone. She loved spending time with her grandbabies. She took many trips to Disney, serving as the bag holder. She attended horse shows, swim meets, school events; she happily had sleepovers and ‘special weekends with each of the grandkids. She became known for her good morning texts and handmade cards. When Gini and Devin married in 2009, Vickie and Van gained four more grandchildren, adding to their bountiful family. The couple were active members at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church. Vickie often accompanied Van in singing and served at the church in a myriad of ways. She loved her church family.
Throughout her life, Vickie worked as a loyal employee for several financial institutions before finishing her career at Friday, Eldredge, and Clark. She retired in August of 2022 after over 20 years of employment as a paralegal in the employee benefits department. There she earned the respect and love of her colleagues, who became her friends. Because Nancy worked just down the street, the two were able to meet for lunch nearly every day for many years. These two sisters were the best of friends. They loved crafting together, scrapbooking and card making, and paper collecting. They also loved shopping, often buying matching outfits because they not only looked alike but also had the same taste in clothes. In fact, Vickie and her siblings have always been close. The love and legacy Bill and Vi started led each of their children to form strong family bonds with one another and the new families they each made for themselves.
Above all, Vickie loved God. This love was evident in the way she loved her family, her friends, really everyone she had contact with, even her cats. And oh how she loved her cats. One never heard a bad word or negative comment come from her mouth. She chose to see the best in people and used her words to encourage and build up others. She was quick to help, generous with everything she possessed. She truly reflected Christ in all she did.
Vickie has joined her beloved parents, Bill and Vi, and her son, Joey. She is survived by her loving husband, Van; daughters: Gini (Devin) Driskell and Julie (Jamie) Minnie; eight grandchildren: Aidan (Chey) McMillen, Ethan Vanness, Tyler Driskell, Brianna (Stephen) Gillaspie, Michael Driskell, Aaron Driskell, Molli (Taylor) Yarberry, and Tyler Minnie; six great grandchildren with one on the way: Hudson Yarberry, Elijah Driskell,Trevor, Mackenzie, Miles, and Charlotte Gillaspie. She is also survived by her sister Nancy (Jay) Baum, brother Chuck, three nieces, Jamie (Michael) Howe, Amber (Joe) Riegel, Leah (Corey) Harris, nephew Stuart, as well as her six great-nephews and one-great niece. As life continues, many things will remind us of our wife, mom, sister, grandma, aunt, and friend. Cats, she really did love her cats. Bird feeders, coconut cream pie, handmade cards, sweet potato casserole, house coats, and Hondas, yellow legal pads where she recorded her prayers and daily journal entries. Our holiday tables will forever have a hole and we’ll have to elect a new family photographer, or no pictures will ever be taken.
We are grateful for the 66 years of life, the 32 years of marriage, the trips, calls, texts, cards, grateful for the time we had with Vickie. Grateful for the example she set. Grateful to have been loved by such a kind woman. And most of all, we are grateful for the promise of eternity and wholeness we find in Christ our Savior. May God be praised even in our darkest days, for He is the light of the world and the One in whom our hearts find rest. In the coming days, when our grief weighs heavy we will remember Vickie saying, “Sweetie, it is going to be ok” and know that it really is alright.
Family, friends and others’ whose lives Vickie touched are invited to the Smith-Benton Funeral Home,
322 N. Market Street, Benton from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 24, 2023 for
visitation. A funeral service is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Friday, August 25, 2023 at Landmark
Missionary Baptist Church located at 17201 Arch Street, Little Rock.
Online guestbook: www.SmithFamilyCares.com.