By STEW JENKINS
Stella Ann Jenkins died peacefully on Jan. 8. She was 92-years-old. She will always be in our hearts.
During the past year, Stella so enjoyed her last birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with her family. Stella’s legacy was her grace, wit and example of selfless care for family, neighbors and community.
Stella was born in Pine, Arizona, to Helen and Robert Stewart on September 3, 1925, at her Father’s U.S. Forest Ranger station. Her early remembrances were of ranger stations in Pine, Payson and Springerville, Arizona. Her family had two horses, chickens, a milk cow and goats.
Stella went to high school in Phoenix, and graduated from University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts in home economics (textiles and clothing).
Stella then moved to Albuquerque, where she got a security clearance to work at Sandia Air Force Base (where atomic bombs were stored, martialed and deployed). An accomplished skier, Stella joined a local ski club. On a club ski bus going to Santa Fe in early 1950, a handsome fellow, who thought her the prettiest girl on the bus, asked if he could sit next to her. When he found out her name, he responded that her name in Latin and Spanish was the same as his first name: “Starr.” She didn’t believe him at first, but the bus broke down so many times on the short trip to Santa Fe that it took five hours.
They got to know each other and fell madly in love. Starr proposed in June, and when they went to get their marriage license, two other couples from the ski bus were getting licenses. Stella and Starr were married August 14, 1950, at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, with a reception at her Dad’s ranger station in Tijeras Canyon. They left in Starr’s yellow Chevy convertible, honeymooning in Flagstaff, San Diego, Catalina, and Yosemite, returning to Albuquerque to a rented house and their two jobs.
Stella moved with Starr to Stanford, California, while he got his Master’s degree, where their first child, Stewart, was born in 1952. They moved back to Albuquerque, and soon Janet and Scott were born (1955 and 1957). Stewart, Janet, Scott and Starr were the center of Stella’s life and she filled them with love. She treasured many trips around the West to Coeur d’Alene, Yellow Stone, Yosemite, Long Beach, Shell Beach and the Grand Canyon.
In her 60s and 70s Stella went river rafting, toured Canada, Alaska, the United States and Europe.
She moved with Starr to San Luis Obispo when he got a job teaching English at Cal Poly in 1961. As Stella’s parents had retired to Shell Beach, she was thrilled when Starr was offered the job in SLO. During the summers, Starr would get ranger jobs in Yosemite where he and Stella had a “tent-cabin” with a wood stove, and the kids slept outside under the magnificent summer stars. Stella taught the children many things during those summers (like, making blackberry jam). She was strong and courageous. Her petite frame did not stop her from grabbing spoon and skillet to bang together while running pell-mell at a full-grown bear threatening Stella’s child.
She watched the first men step on the moon on a TV balanced on a chair in a stand of Doug Fir, the only place a television signal could be found. She was a cub scout den mother, a campfire leader and a member of the Cal Poly Women’s Club. She was a devoted member of PEO. Stella loved serving others as Deacon of the First Presbyterian Church of San Luis Obispo. Stella was chairman of the Art Center docents for two years. She was on the Friends of the Library board. Stella volunteered at the SLO County Clerk’s office when needed at election time.
Stella was preceded in death by her parents, her brother George and her niece LaRue. She is survived by the love of her life, Starr Jenkins and her children Stewart D. Jenkins (Diane Jenkins), Janet L. Jenkins (Bill Levitt), and Scott H. Jenkins, her granddaughters Sara M. Jenkins, Corinna M. Engel, Alisha D. Engel, her niece Susan Stewart and nephew George Stewart.
Stella’s family is grateful for the tender and devoted care provided her at home by Edie Gaddis and Maria Pimentel. Special thanks to Wilshire Hospice.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date.