Helen O. Jeska passed away on January 20, 2021, in Boise, Idaho at the age of 101 due to heart failure with her daughter by her side .
Helen was born on October 11, 1919 to James and Mattie (Wiley) Ray on Brushy Creek in Hatfield Arkansas. She had two brothers, Leon and Leonard Ray.
Mattie contracted tuberculosis when Helen was young, spending years in the hospital and passing when Helen was seven. Through these difficult years, Helen and her brothers were separated to live with various relatives while James looked for work in logging. Once James married Florence the three siblings were reunited and two girls, Vernice and Pauline, were added to the family. Living a childhood with little stability but plenty of imagination and spirit set Helen up for a life full of tenacity and compassion.
At 15, Helen married Edward James Reed in Oklahoma. In 1936 Helen gave birth to their first son, Bobby Wayne. When Bob was young he and Helen traveled to the Imperal Valley in California to join Ed who had gone to look for work. A second son, Eddie Glen, was born in 1941 with a third son, Ronald Keith being born in 1943. They later divorced.
One night Helen was asked by a neighbor's sister to accompany her to a dance in Brawley. As the girls had no car they walked to the dance. It was at this dance that Helen met Cecil Wilber Waters. He offered to give the girls a ride home. After that Cecil would offen take the girls home after dances. Helen was working as a waitress at this time and Cecil would come into the diner for visits often.
At the age of 27 Helen and Cecil were married in Yuma Arizona. Helen was grateful to have a man in her life who would help raise her boys as his own, and together they had five more children: Cheryl, Judy, Louis, Lee Ann and Janice.
Helen and Cecil moved to Idaho in 1965 with their young children, where the family farmed until 1983 when Helen and Cecil moved to the sunshine of Banning California to enjoy retirement. Helen said goodbye to Cecil in 1992 when he passed away due to a stroke. With more love in her heart to give, Helen met Leonard Jeska at the Community Senior Center in 1995, they were wed the next year. Helen laid her third and final husband to rest in 2011 after Leonard lost the years-long battle to cancer.
Helen's hobbies included working in her yard, sewing, crocheting and quilting. Helen made clothes for the girls as well as some beautiful afghans and quilts and passed them along to various family members. Helen was a devoted Christian.
In her 90's, Helen was ready to give up the hassles of managing her own home, she moved to Boise in 2012 into a senior living apartment near her daughter Judy. She enjoyed the close proximity of neighbors and the conversations during communal meals until 2017 when she moved in with Judy and her husband Guy. Living with Judy and Guy brought old and new activities into her daily life. They played dominoes every night - even if she was the only one who really enjoyed it - and she joined in cheering on the Boise State Bronco football team.
Helen is survived by her children Eddie Glen (Luana) Reed, Brawley, CA; Judy (Guy) Fisher, Boise, ID; Lou (Robyn) Waters, Rock Springs, WY; Lee Ann (Steve) Chigbrow, Paul, ID; and Jan (Larry) Morton, Oregon City, OR; daughter-in-law Hazel Reed, Boise, ID; and son-in-law John Lemmond, McKinney, TX. She had 24 grandchildren as well as numerous great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her parents, siblings, husbands, sons, Bob Reed, and Ron Reed and daughter Cheryl Umentum.
Graveside services and bural will be held at San Gorgonio Memorial Park in Banning, CA on February 5, 2021 at 12 noon.
Arrangements have been placed in the care of Bowman Funeral Parlor in Garden City, ID and Wiefels and Son Mortuary in Banning, CA.
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