Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, friend to many….
We say goodbye to Helen M. Rea, sad that she is gone from this earth, but happy that she is free from all pain and illness she had recently endured. Born Helen Mae McMann in Coleridge, Nebraska to Arthur and Ione McMann on April 16, 1935, she was the third oldest child of 15 children that grew up on a farm. Helen graduated from Coleridge High School in a class of 26 graduates. Her very first job (in a long history of working) was as a waitress in the Collins Cafe in Coleridge while she was in high school.
Early in Helen’s life she had various retail jobs, including working in a bedroom store in Norfolk, Nebraska and a clothing store in Omaha, Nebraska. Life brought her out to Denver where her sister Dot had moved. She got a job at a clothing store in Denver. While in Denver, she met a gentleman named Alivan Rea, who lived in her neighborhood, and their journey together as husband and wife began with the two of them eloping and getting married in Raton, New Mexico on January 29, 1955. To this marriage two children were born, Delwyn in September of 1956 and Terrie in July of 1959.
Family life for the Reas included many outdoor activities, such as fishing, hunting, and camping. Cousins, aunts, uncles, in laws and friends were often a big part of the family get togethers, and Helen loved to host parties at her house for many of these get togethers. She was always ready for a good Bronco party or an evening playing cards, evenings that went on into mornings, frequently!
Helen’s working life in Denver included a very long career at Gates Rubber Company, starting first as a secretary. She was very proficient at taking shorthand and could type 90 words a minute. She worked in various capacities at Gates, working her way up to greater and greater responsibilities. For a time, she worked there in the pipe shop. Her final position was Materials Coordinator. She retired from Gates Rubber Company after 33 years of working there.
Perhaps a favorite part of life for Helen was when she and Alivan retired from work life to go on to volunteer as camp hosts at Chatfield State Park in Colorado each summer. Here they got to hang out with grandchildren. They also became “snow birds” each winter in Arizona, where they hung out with extended family. This great adventure covered eleven years and many experiences at Chatfield. They were recognized by the state of Colorado Parks Department for their service and dedication for these many years.
All of you who knew Helen would know that the single most important thing in her life was family. She always sent birthday cards to children and grandchildren, and her Christmas fudge was enjoyed by everyone. She and Alivan would come over at “o dark thirty” on Christmas mornings to watch their grandchildren open their presents, showing up in their bathrobes with their mugs of coffee. She attended countless sporting and school events over the years, first for her own children and later for her grandchildren, and also for many of her nieces and nephews. Helen and Alivan made every effort to travel to countless family events, whether they were graduations, weddings, or funerals. They made sure to be present for their family as much as possible.
Many of Helen’s siblings have passed on before her, but she is survived by brother Doug in California, sisters Kay and Dixie of Arizona, sister Dot of Denver, sister Linda in California, and sister Vickie in Texas. Helen is also survived by her son Del (and wife Janice) and daughter Terrie (and husband Doug), and by 5 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Helen demonstrated an incredible fighting spirit in her later years in life, when she received various cancer diagnoses. She fought the good fight for as many years as her body was able to, and to the very end made sure to tell her family that she loved them all. Her family appreciates the very great care from all of the doctors and nurses at the MC Anderson Cancer Clinic in Greeley, CO, along with the help she received from Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.
Helen had grit and grace, and was loved by all.