Veron Long Cimino
Maiden Name: Long
Verlon Long Cimino passed away on Oct. 11, 2006 at age 92, after a long, happy and successful life. She was the daughter of William Isaac and Flaurah Ward Long, born in Indian Country west of Shady Point in LeFlore County on July 18, 1914. Verlon’s mother was a granddaughter of Eliza LeFlore Ward, who traveled the Trail of Tears as a child in 1832. Her folks settled at Skullyville, near Spiro. Her home county was named LeFlore after her Grannie’s family.
At age four, Verlon moved with her family to Poteau, the county seat in LeFlore County, where she attended school until graduating high school in 1933. In 1934, she entered Bacone Indian College in Muskogee, graduating in 1936. This was one of her most meaningful life experiences. Known as “Roja,” she met and made life-long friends with many American Indians of different tribes. She then attended a four-year college in Tahlequah, receiving her first teaching degree. She also attended Durant College, University of Oklahoma: Norman, and University of NY: Buffalo and Syracuse to finish her masters degree in teaching. Her 30-year teaching career began in a one-room schoolhouse and included 10 years of public school and 20 years teaching blind children at Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee (four years) and New York State School for the Blind in Batavia, N.Y., (16 years) where she taught fourth graders.
Verlon married Pandeli “Pete” Gioka who was from Albania and had a daughter, Joy Kathleen, and a son, Michael Pete. They lived in Denver, Colo. until Pete’s passing. Verlon remarried to Anthony Cimino in 1951, and they lived in Muskogee while working at the Oklahoma School for the Blind. They later moved to Batavia, N.Y. until they retired from the New York School for the Blind and moved to Poteau, then to Cumming, Ga., where they lived until Tony’s passing. Verlon remained near her children and moved with them to Fort Myers, Fla. in 2005.
Not one person met Verlon who didn’t immediately become educated about the Choctaw Indians and her family history. She remained enthusiastic and proud of her American Indian heritage throughout her life.
She enjoyed playing piano into her 90s. She also enjoyed cooking, oil painting, gardening, home decorating and reading Tony Hillerman books.
She was preceded in death by brothers Jewel and Wayne Long; and sisters Lucille Casdorf and Beulah Sharpe.
She is survived by her daughter, Joy K. and husband Douglas Simpkins; grandchildren, Jeremy Simpkins, Patrick Simpkins and Tia Coots; son, Michael Gioka and wife Yvonne; grandchildren Elisa and Erin Gioka; great-grandchildren, Tyler Coots and Ivey Doty; niece, LaTrelle Holley and her family; nephew, Robert Long and his family; and numerous other distant relatives.
A memorial service was held in Fort Myers, Fla., and a graveside service was held for Verlon at her resting place in Oakland Cemetery in Poteau, next to Pete and Tony.