Rowena Faye Jelaco
June 23, 1922 – March 29, 2019
TWIN FALLS - After nearly a century of a life of enviable health and contentment, Rowena Jelaco died quietly at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center on Friday, March 29, 2019, after a very short illness. Three months short of her 97th birthday, this was her first stay in a hospital in illness.
She was born June 23rd, 1922, in Paxton, Nebraska to parents Paul M. and Mabel V. (Hamilton) Wilson. Rowena grew up in North Platte and Sutherland, Nebraska. A high school cheerleader and excellent student, she worked at the Paramount Theater in North Platte before moving to Rock Springs, Wyoming to work at the Rialto Theater there. It was in Rock Springs, at a dance at the Slovenski Dom, where Rowena met her future husband, Nick Jelaco. He was handsome, entertaining, and an excellent dancer. But it was her dance card that was always filled and it was he who was the lucky one. Rowena and Nick were married in Rock Springs in 1944 and their two children, Nicki and Ronnie, were born there. In 1953, Rowena and Nick moved to Pocatello, Idaho where they raised their family and lived in various definitions of bliss until Nick’s death in 2007, after 64 years together. Following Nick’s death, Rowena moved to Twin Falls, Idaho, where she could be near her daughter.
Rowena was a bowler in many of Pocatello’s leagues, and often served as their secretary. She also volunteered at the Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello for many years. She will be remembered by her family and friends for her constancy, self-discipline and persistence. She rose at 5 a.m. every morning and lived unassisted until the end. She sewed elaborate clothes and costumes for her children and grandchildren, making them the envy of their classmates. She sent weekly letters to her granddaughter at college. She was a supremely loyal Mariners baseball fan, never missing a game. Each December, Rowena authored a highly-anticipated Christmas card poem. They were masterpieces; sentimental, witty, laugh out loud funny, culturally insightful, and brilliant, routinely reducing their readers to tears. Rowena was an avid crossword puzzle player until the last decade of her life, when macular degeneration shifted her interests. She never wanted to be left out, even if that meant suppressing her claustrophobia long enough to ride an elevator to the top of the Sears Tower or the Space Needle. She believed that if anyone could do it, so could she. And, to the end, she was a blue girl in a red state.
Rowena was preceded in death by Nick, and her sister Shirley (Robert) Fristo. Rowena’s ashes will be interred next to Nick’s, with his family and some of their oldest friends, in the Mountain View Cemetery in Rock Springs, Wyoming. She is survived by her two children, Nickola (Art) Jones of Hansen, Idaho, and Ron (Courtney) Jelaco of Hailey, Idaho; Nickola’s two daughters, Jaime Stam of Hailey, Idaho, and her two daughters, Hailey and Elizabeth, and Amanda Byrd of Portland, Oregon, and her daughter, Jentry; and Ron and Courtney's daughter, Louisa.
Rowena requested that there be no services upon her death. Instead, her family will join her dear friends at Gleneagles Senior Community in Twin Falls for a social lunch on April 17th. Rather than investing in flowers, Rowena would have preferred that donations be sent in her memory to The American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of White Mortuary “Chapel by the Park.” Condolences may be left at www.whitemortuary.com