EUGENE — Mary Darlene Gelskey, 87, a member of St. Mark Parish, died Jan. 7 of congestive heart failure with shortness of breath. There was a funeral Mass at St. Mark Church in Eugene.

Mrs. Gelskey was born Dec. 7, 1933, in Baker, the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, Joseph and Marie Chaves. Growing up in rural eastern Oregon she graduated from St. Francis Academy where she excelled scholastically, and enjoyed debating and playing the piano, organ, and cello.

While working at the theater in Baker she caught the eye of Edward James Gelskey, who had moved there from Weiser, Idaho, to work as a linotype operator at the Baker City Herald. She fell in love with Edward as he met her two requirements: He was Catholic and he had a car.

Edward and Mary, aka Jim and Darlene, married June 6, 1953, at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in Baker, and then moved to Centralia, Washington, where they purchased their first home and set up Gelskey Cold Storage. The young couple and their ever-expanding family moved to Northern California in 1961 and then to Southern California where they resided until 1992. Mrs. Gelskey was an exceptional homemaker who enriched the lives of her children by making many of their clothes and by providing salon services and haircuts.

She always found the extra time to help her children excel, assisting with homework and science projects galore, while her husband worked long hours in the printing business. She was an extraordinary chef and would single-handedly prepare large family meals, which always featured her unbelievably delicious, deviled eggs, potato salad, a pie selection (minimum of three), and her world-famous cream puffs. In 1970 Mrs. Gelskey began working outside the home at the News Post, a Monrovia, California, newspaper and then transitioned into vision care, as an optician, a career that she enjoyed until she was 75, working at Rainbow Optics.

Mrs. Gelskey enjoyed attending the games of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, rain, or shine, sunbathing, and yardwork, but did not know the meaning of selective trimming. Her perspective was, “No plant or tree should be taller than me.”

She also dabbled in auto body repair work, out of necessity.

The Gelskeys were faith-filled Catholics, becoming longtime active members of St. Mark Parish.

Mrs. Gelskey had an unbelievable sense of humor and always made everyone feel at ease and comfortable in any setting.

Mrs. Gelskey was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years on May 1, 2016; her first child, Leon Joseph Gelskey, her parents, Joseph and Marie Chaves, her brothers, Arthur, Wilfred, Francis and Martin Chaves, and Sister Lena Clements.

She is survived by her children Michael Gelskey, Gail Draper, Nancy Stultz, Sheryl Manning, Kathleen Bernard, and Julie Nuttall; 10 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren; her sister Judith Joan Spearin, and cousins, nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends and St. Mark parishioners.