Ileta Iler (1938 - 2018)

  • "Psalm 90:10 says that the days of our years are 70 years,..."
  • "I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to your..."
    - Tawna Turner
  • "It can be so hard to face the first year without your loved..."
    - M. Simms

The light of this world became a little dimmer on March 31st, 2018, when Ileta Elaine Iler was called home. She was taken suddenly by influenza. She had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for the past eight years.

Ileta was born June 22nd, 1938, first child of Arlene McCoy and Donald Downing. She grew up in the forests of Oregon fishing and hunting with her father and welcomed her sister Darlene when she was nine. Ileta graduated from high school in 1956, and shortly after that she moved with her family to El Monte California, where she began working at Bank of America in Pasadena. There she met the love of her life Harold D. Iler. After a whirlwind romance lasting a few short months they eloped in Las Vegas, getting married on October 27th, 1956. That marriage was to last an amazing fifty seven years until Harold died on April 8th, 2013.

Harold and Ileta stayed in California for the next nineteen years, living in La Puente and later La Palma and had three children. Ileta started college at California State University Long Beach studying Social and Behavioral Sciences and earned her bachelor degree in 1971. During this time she showed, bred and raised German Shepard puppies, filling the house with their love, joy and barking. She hosted large family holidays, the house stuffed with people, making wonderful turkey dinners and always burning the rolls. Vacations were always camping and fishing with the family (including the dogs) in several beautiful National Parks, although her favorite was Yosemite. Eventually the family began backpacking in the Sierra Mountains to be closer to nature and each other.

After graduation she worked as a counselor until they decided to move to Reno Nevada. They loved how close Reno was to the Sierra Mountains, so they quit their jobs, packed up the kids and left Los Angeles. Ileta worked for the State of Nevada for several years as a social worker. She helped many families and worked with the state AG to stiffen penalties for child abusers. In the summer of 1984 Harold and Ileta took a cruise to Alaska and it was a life changing event. She knew it was home. They moved to Alaska in the winter of 1986. Harold and Ileta were passionate fishermen and kept a boat at Tee Harbor. Stories of them figuring out how to catch, handle and dress their local catch put us in stitches.

Ileta worked for the State as a Social Worker. She also worked for the Tlingit and Haida Tribe in the same capacity. She became a court guardian ad litem, her favorite job because she worked to determine what was best for the children. She loved the children she worked with throughout her entire career and her first priority was always their needs and safety. She frequently said "No one chooses a life of abuse or neglect. They have to live with what has been done to them already. It is up to us to see to it that no more harm befalls them." Ileta retired completely in 2002. Her health led to a move to Depoe Bay Oregon in 2007 to be closer to specialized medical care. After Harold's death she moved into St. Andrews Memory Care in Portland Oregon.

Ileta is preceded in death by her parents and husband, as well as her oldest son Donald Harold Iler. She is survived by her son David Iler and his wife Laura of Portland Oregon; her sister Darlene Wingfield and her husband Keith of Eugene Oregon; her daughter Kathleen Galau and her husband Robert, and their two children Patrick Iler and Ileta Galau, all of Juneau, Alaska; and her two great grandsons Patrick Weston of Haines, Alaska and Oliver Tonsguard of Juneau. Private services will be held.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in her name to either the Foster Care for Success foundation: success-foundation; or the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation: Mom would agree, no one should have to live with Alzheimer's.
Published in The Juneau Empire from May 18 to June 17, 2018