Rhea died peacefully at dawn on September 7, 2013, in the loving presence of dear friends, while her only surviving son and his wife drove through the night from Jasper, Alberta, where they were visiting, when they learned of her sudden hospitalization. Rhea was born to Dollie Bence in Ellendale, ND, a few months after her father’s death from Influenza. Dollie, along with her mother, Anna Thompson, and Dollie’s children, Rhea and Les, moved to Wenatchee before Rhea’s first birthday. Rhea happily called Wenatchee home until 2010, when she relocated to Bellingham to be close to her son and daughter-in-law. Rhea loved to tell the story of the day she first looked into the blue eyes of the love of her life, Andrew Waslenko. It happened in a fruit warehouse, where they were both working, in the summer of 1938. That very evening she told her mother, “Today I met the man I’m going to marry.” They were married six weeks later, on September 3rd, when they had two consecutive days off. Their marriage lasted for 71 years, until Andy’s death in 2009. Rhea’s greatest joys were Andy, their sons, the home they built at night after their work in the orchard was finished, and the orchards that gave them their livelihood. She was a charter member of Phi Sigma Alpha sorority. The sorority gave Rhea the sisters she never had and an opportunity to serve her community.
Rhea is now reunited with her husband; parents; brother; sons, Ollie and Donald; and grandson, Brett. She leaves behind her son and daughter-in-law, Nick Waslenko and Angela Mercy of Bellingham; daughter-in-law, Jo Waslenko of Wenatchee; granddaughter, Lisa (Bruce) Deal and great-grandchildren, Zach, Annilese and Andrea of Atherton, CA; granddaughter, Sherin (Rick) Little and great-grandchildren, Chandler, Carter, Kendall and Cohen, all of Spokane.
The family wishes to express heartfelt gratitude to Ray Blank and Carol Spano, and to the staff of the assisted living residences of Colonial Vista and Fairhaven Estates, for their loving care.
There will be a private Graveside Service on Friday, September 13, 2013, at the Wenatchee City Cemetery. You are invited to visit the online guestbook at www.telfordschapel.com