Reta Laverne (Henley) Drollinger-Nelson, 80, of Kennewick, our beloved mother, LaVerne, peacefully went to her eternal reward Tuesday morning, May 4, 2010, at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, lovingly surrounded by family and friends. Following her stroke on Aug. 27, 2009, her health rapidly declined, finally ending in cardio-pulmonary failure. She will be greatly missed, but leaves behind a lasting legacy of accomplishments and many fond memories.
Mom was born Feb. 17, 1930, in Ava, Mo., the second of two children to Arnder Robert Paul Henley and Nelia Ivory Bernice (nee Slate) Henley. Her family migrated to Sunnyside in 1934 and then moved to Bremerton from 1940 to 1945, where her father worked in the shipyards. They returned to Sunnyside at the end of WWII in 1945.
Mom met Lynn Howard Drollinger during her senior year at Sunnyside High School and they were married Nov. 19, 1948 in Sunnyside soon after her graduation.
In 1951 they moved to Spokane, where their first child, David Howard was born at Fairchild AFB. Their second child, Diana Lynn, was born in 1952 at Burtonwood AFB, while Dad was stationed in England during the Korean Conflict. They returned to Sunnyside the same year and eventually completed their family with the birth of Richard Alan in 1955.
Our family moved to Kennewick in 1957 to open a new branch of the family owned business, Valley Ready Mix Concrete Co.
Mom was always athletic, thrived on competition and wasn't afraid to take a risk. She loved to ride horses and ice skate, as a young girl she was a proficient slalom skier as a young adult and often broke a 200-point game while bowling on the Valley Ready Mix Concrete Co. team. She also enjoyed flying with our father who was an ex-fighter pilot and became one of the first three women in the Tri-Cities to receive her pilots license in the mid 1960s.
She was known for her sense of style and fashion, as well as being a fabulous cook. She was equally at home modeling at local events, acting in community theaters or hosting large parties in the 60's.
Mom was an accomplished business woman. She was instrumental in helping build our family business, even driving trucks when necessary. After she and Dad divorced in 1966, she sold real estate for Des Long Realty in the Tri-Cities and later was a secretary for Collier Chemical Corporation in Finley.
She and two of her children, Diana and Rick, moved to Gresham, Ore. in 1970, where she was employed as a secretary/bookkeeper for French and French Employment Agency, which she purchased in 1972.
In the spring of 1974 she married Captain Ralph "Rope" Nelson and moved to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where he had a charter boat business. She fell in love with the sea, fishing and running their boat, the Blue Hawaii. She caught many Marlin fishing off the Kona Coast, some reaching many hundreds of pounds!
Mom and Rope moved back to the mainland in the late 70's and re-established her real estate career working for Windermere Realty in Bellevue until retiring in 1995.
In 1996, she moved back to Kennewick, where she lived the final years of her life.
Mom is survived by her three children, David (Bonnie) Drollinger, Diana (Frank) Hawkins and Richard (Debbie) Drollinger; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren, Brittney (Blake) Kluse and son, Braxton; Blake (Lesli) Drollinger and daughter, Alena; Taylor Hawkins; Christine Drollinger; Kevin Drollinger; Kimberly Drollinger; and a sister-in-law, Sue Henley of Sun City West, Ariz. and companion, Rob Ferrell. Mom also leaves behind lifelong and steadfast friends, Joyce Taylor, Ruth Fones and Jean "Barney" Ledgerwood, as well as dear friends, Janet Butler and Marsha Hopkins.
She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, Paul; our father; her second husband; and close friend, Marilyn Diamond.
Per mom's wish, her body was cremated May 6, 2010, officiated by Life Tributes Cremation Center of Kennewick.
A celebration of mom's life will be held Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010, beginning at noon, at the home of her son, Dave Drollinger, 8904 W. 6th Ave., Kennewick.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to your favorite charity would be appreciated.
We love and miss you mom and know we'll be together again!
Life Tributes Cremation Center in Kennewick was in charge of arrangements.