William R. Maloney

Written By: nppladmin - Jan• 13•22
Originally published on Facebook October 22, 2021.

All during the month of October, North Platte History Fridays are going to feature the people who were impacted by Annie Cook. Today, we are looking at someone who was definitely knew and worked with Annie Cook when she needed him; and that person is: William R. Maloney, Businessman, Coroner and Undertaker in Lincoln County.

William Robert Maloney was born in Green County, Iowa, on September 18, 1882 to William and Hannah “Barrow” Maloney. The Maloney family came to North Platte Nebraska in 1898, when William was 16 years old.

Once they arrived in North Platte, William went to work at the Union Pacific Railroad as a brakeman for 2 years. In 1900, Williams entered a clerkship in the C.A. Howe furniture and hardware store. After a period of time, he got into the undertaking business (funeral home), making $28 per month. Mr. Howe was so impressed with William, that he sent him to the Hohenschuh School of Embalming in Omaha to improve his skills. William graduated in 1904 and returned to North Platte, where he had full charge of the undertaking branch of Howe’s business. In 1905, William bought one-eighth of the business, and continued buying stock from time to time, until he had the controlling interest and became the general manager of the store.

After Mr. Howe’s death in 1913, William bought the remaining shares of the stock, the business now being known as the W. R. Maloney Company. Mr. Maloney was a very well-respected member of the community and very involved in all matters of the city, county and state.

Seriously, who could manage a hardware, furniture, and undertaking business all under one roof? William Maloney could and did!

On March 16, 1910, William married Erma Vincent Dye. They had one child, Maureen Mildred. The family lived in the house located at 504 West 4th Street (formerly known as the “pink house”). <see photograph>The Maloney’s were Catholic and William belonged to the Knights of Columbus. For two years, he was the war-time district deputy for western Nebraska. He was honored by the Democratic Party as a city councilman, and for nine years, he was coroner of Lincoln County. For three years, he was president of the Nebraska Board of Embalmers in connection with his business as an undertaker.

Being very involved in community affairs meant he was also knew Annie Cook. According to the book, “Evil Obsession,” William was a regular visitor out at the County Poor Farm. Maloney took care of many of the mysterious deaths that occurred at the farm.

As mentioned last week, William Maloney surely would have seen the mark on Clara’s head where the stove handle hit her, but the death certificate listed “poisoning” as the cause of death. And his certification meant that the newspapers printed the announcement as he told it to them. In this researcher’s opinion, this one fact truly implicates Mr. Maloney in the coverup for Annie Cook. And if he covered this up, what else did he “take care of” for Annie Cook?

Mr. Maloney was also chairman of the North Platte Cemetery Association and was well-known for his style of “cutting corners” when it came to burying the poor residents of our community. In addition, Annie Cook bought a household full of furniture and goods, mainly from W R Maloney Company Store.

William R. Maloney died June 1, 1945 of a heart attack after struggling with heart health issues for about one year. He was 61 years old and retired.

Mr. Maloney was the original director, organizer and Vice President of the Platte Valley Public Power and Irrigation District. In June of 1946 a dedication ceremony was held at the lake south of North Platte in honor of William Maloney’s service. Lake Maloney was named in his honor.

Civic Leader? Businessman? Humanitarian? Undertaker? Part of the Annie Cook inner Circle? Was there an under-handed side to William R. Maloney? Researchers have their suspicions that Maloney was definitely under Annie’s influence. Although he certainly held a good standing in the community, the book Evil Obsession reported that Poor Farm inmates simply disappeared. Maloney would certainly been a key factor in helping make human remains disappear.

We may never know the truth. Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for one more Annie Cook story next Friday! And be sure to read “Evil Obsession” by Nellie Snyder Yost if you want to read more about Annie Cook.

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