Ted Mayr Funeral Home and Crematory

3150 Loma Vista Road, Ventura, CA


Margretta Jane Jeske

September 14, 1922July 18, 2020

Margretta Jane Jeske entered eternal rest on July 18, 2020 in Ventura, CA after a prolonged fight with dementia. Her family will miss her gentle humor, fierce love of family and devotion to her God. “Gretta” was born September 14, 1922 in Hancock, on the thumb of Michigan to Helma Alina Ericson Smith and John Aloysius Smith.

Helma and Gretta moved from Detroit, Michigan to San Pedro, California in 1927 to be closer to John who was in the Navy. It was there she experienced her first large earthquake, the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake (6.4 Richter Scale). She loved to tell the story about how she was roller skating and the sidewalk buckled right in front of her.

The family moved to North Hollywood, CA in the early 1930’s where she spent her teenaged years which included the great flood of 1938, which she recalled vividly all her life. To the day she died, she always remembered the work of the Salvation Army in her area. She said it was the only emergency service that came to check on them, and she supported them faithfully. It was here, too, that she met Wendell Jeske at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. They enjoyed the activities of the Walther League, a youth group of the church and fell in love. They were planning a wedding when Wendell was drafted in the troop build-up prior to WWII. Their plans were changed, but not called off, as they were married at Childress Airfield where Wendell was a Bombardier Training officer. Stories of the challenges of life during the war were plentiful.

After the war, Gretta and Wendell settled in southern California to raise their family. MaryEllen was born while Wendell was serving in the European Theater and Gretta was at home praying for his safe return. Upon his return to So Cal, Elizabeth (Betty Jane) and John followed.

Gretta enjoyed working all her life. One job she loved was being a customer rep. at Western Union in Hollywood. She had lots of fun talking to all kinds of folks including John Wayne, among other celebrities. Her last and longest job was for the U.S. Navy at Port Hueneme CA in the warehouse where she tracked inventories on shipments arriving from and leaving to all ports around the world for 22 years.

Searching for a milder climate and less crowded scene, the Jeske’s settled on Ventura in 1958. After retiring, Gretta and Wendell used Ventura as their base camp while travelling all over the U.S. and Alaska for 17 years. After Wendell’s health began to fail, the couple stopped travelling and Gretta became a caregiver for the last seven years of his life. After his death, she was able to realize a long-delayed dream and go cruising with her daughters and extended family.

Gretta will be interred at Ivy Lawn Cemetery, with graveside services on August 21, 2020 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Salvation Army or Grace Lutheran Church Care for the Saints, 6190 Telephone Rd., Ventura CA 93003.


21 August

Graveside Service

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Ivy Lawn Memorial Park

5400 Valentine Rd.
Ventura, CA 93003


Margretta Jane Jeske

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