Iona Faye “Oni” Jeska, 92, died peacefully in her home in Salinas surrounded by family at 2:30pm on Sunday, July 26, 2020. Born in Kansas, she lived in Salinas for the past 75 years.
Oni was the 7th in a family of 10 children born to Lawrence Elmer and Serepta Fayetta (Stilwell) Read. All but one brother was delivered in the LaCygne, KS family farm house.
The family moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1942, then to Salinas in 1943. There she met Robert after WWII. They eloped to Carson City, NV in June 1948 and shared 60 happy years in Salinas.
Oni collected butterfly pins, read romance novels, was a non-stop knitter, and had a 173 bowling average in her day, with a high game of 292. She was a great cook but preferred a hamburger or chicken nuggets, with a Coke and See’s candies.
She worked over 35 years at the County Election Department; but her favorite job was that of Mom to her three boys. Hers was a life of sacrifice for them, and she held the story of their lives in her heart: den mother, little league coach, PTA, and prom chaperone. She was caregiver for son, Max, for 64 years. Many friends, relatives and strangers around the country have a complimentary afghan or slippers she knitted.
Oni is survived by sons Bob (Sherri) and Brian (Val) and sisters Margaret Cook, and JoAnn Bryan, 6 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. Robert died in 2008 and son Max in 2018.
A small memorial service is planned in mid-August upon her inurnment at the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in Seaside.
Consider making a donation in Oni’s memory to the Visiting Nurses Association.
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