Mary Darlene Gelskey
1933 - 2021
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Mary Darlene Gelskey
December 7, 1933 - January 7, 2021
Mary Darlene Gelskey passed from this life on Thursday, January 7, 2021 at the age of 87 years and 1 month and stepped into heaven peacefully from the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her loved ones.
She was born Mary Darlene Chaves on December 7th, 1933, in Baker, Oregon. Mary grew up in rural, eastern Oregon, the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, Joseph, and Marie Chaves. Mary Darlene graduated from St. Francis Academy where she excelled scholastically, and enjoyed debating and playing the piano, organ, and cello. While working at the theater in Baker she caught the eye of Edward James Gelskey, who had moved there from Weiser, Idaho to work as a linotype operator at the Baker City Herald. Mary fell in love with Edward as he met her two requirements, he was Catholic, and he had a car. Edward and Mary aka Jim and Darlene would be married on June 6, 1953 at the St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker, OR and then moved to Centralia, WA where they purchased their first home and set up Gelskey Cold Storage. The young couple and their ever expanding family moved to Northern California in 1961 and then ultimately to Southern California where they resided until 1992.
Darlene was an exceptional homemaker and enriched the lives of her children by making many of their clothes and by providing salon services and haircuts. She always found the extra time to help her children excel, assisting with homework and science projects galore, while her husband worked long hours in the printing business. She was an extraordinary chef and would singlehandedly prepare large family meals which always featured her unbelievably delicious, deviled eggs, potato salad, a pie selection (minimum 3), and her world famous cream puffs.
In 1970 Mary began working outside the home at the News Post, a Monrovia, CA newspaper and then transitioned into vision care, as an optician, a career that she enjoyed until she was seventy-five working at Rainbow Optics. Darlene enjoyed attending the games of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, rain, or shine, sun bathing, and yardwork, but did not know the meaning of selective trimming. Her perspective was, no plant or tree should be taller than me. She also dabbled in auto body repair work, out of necessity.
Darlene and Jim were faith filled Catholics, becoming long time, active members of St. Mark Catholic Church, Eugene, OR. Mary Darlene had an unbelievable sense of humor and always made everyone feel at ease and comfortable in any setting.
Darlene was preceded in death by the love of her life, Daddy, her husband of 63 years, her first child, Leon Joseph Gelskey, her parents, Joseph and Marie Chaves, brothers, Arthur, Wilfred, Francis and Martin Chaves, Sister Lena Clements and Chubbs, the family cat. She is survived by her sister, Judith Joan Spearin, and children, Michael Gelskey and wife, Emily, Gail Draper and husband, Paul, Nancy Stultz and husband Gary, Sheryl Manning and husband, Mel, Kathleen Bernard and husband Charlie, and Julie Nuttall and her fiancé, Tim Card and imaginary friend, Leroy. Grammie Pancakes is also survived by 10 Grandchildren, 14 Great Grandchildren and 5 Great-Great Grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends, and St. Mark parishioners.
A Rosary and Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mark Catholic Church on Saturday, January 16th at 10:00 AM with a private, family graveside service at Westlawn Cemetery, Eugene, OR. The Mass will be recorded and if you are interested in receiving a DVD copy of Mary Darlene's Funeral Mass and a Funeral Mass Brochure, please email
For 2-1/2 years she endured the rigorous ritual of nightly peritoneal dialysis and eventually succumbed to SOB/CHF. Mary Darlene often remarked that one of her many goals was to become the first living, canonized saint. Had she endured, with changes in the canonization process, she may well have accomplished her objective. It has been said by many, who knew and loved her that after she takes up residence, heaven will never be the same.
Mary Darlene will always remain in the lives of those who were fortunate enough to have known her. She leaves us with a legacy of love and selflessness manifested by her service to others. We miss you Mommy, and we will always carry you in our hearts. Thank you for your love and for all that you joyfully did without complaint. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Disclaced Carmelite Nuns Shriners Hospital 87609 Green Hill Road 911 West 5th Avenue Eugene, OR 97402 Spokane, WA 99204
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Published in Eugene Register-Guard from Jan. 12 to Jan. 13, 2021.
Funeral Mass
10:00 AM
St. Mark Catholic Church
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January 13, 2021
Your loved one, whom we knew simply as Mary at Rainbow Optics, will be missed. She gave us expert optical care always offered up with a teasing, witty sense of humor. We left with corrected eyeglasses and a smile on our face. Perhaps in heaven she can reach her goal of becoming a canonized saint. She certainly lived a life of goodwill making the world a better place.

Jerry Lynne and Larry Treinen
Jerry Lynne Treinen
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