Helen Ruth Stalnaker, age 82 of Council Bluffs, passed away on August 27. Helen was born on November 24, 1938, in Ida Grove, IA to Walter and Maxine (Woods) Kessler. She grew up on a farm north of Odebolt, IA, where she attended grade school at Richland Township #1 Willow Tree School. She graduated in 1957 from Odebolt High school. She was active in Rainbow Girls and accompanied the high school choruses on the piano. Helen continued her education by attending Gale Institute, an airline school, in Minneapolis and was hired by Delta Airlines. She first worked in Chicago but in 1961, much to Helen’s delight, she was selected to transfer to Los Angeles when Delta started operations there.
Helen met Paul Stalnaker Jr. after joining a young adult Methodist church group in Monterey Park, CA. On June 20, 1964, they married and made their home in Thousand Oaks, CA. Paul worked for the school district and Helen worked as a travel agent. It was an ideal combination that allowed Helen and Paul to travel all over the world for many years. In December of 1987, Helen and Paul launched a new adventure and moved to Lemoore, CA to open up a Coast to Coast Hardware store. They ran the store together for many years. In 1996 they moved and opened a Coast to Coast in Atascadero before retiring in nearby Paso Robles, CA. In 2013, Paul’s declining health prompted a move back to Iowa where they located in Council Bluffs, IA, where Helen’s two sisters live.
Helen loved to read and enjoyed doing serious research on genealogy. She was a very knowledgeable sports fan and kept up with all her favorite teams. Her biggest passion was for NASCAR racing that she and Paul followed avidly and traveled to watch. She will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband Paul Stalnaker Jr. and her parents Walter and Maxine Kessler. Those left to cherish Helen’s memory are her sisters: Sandra (Anthony) Host of Council Bluffs, IA and Dorothy “Dee” Engstrom of Council Bluffs, IA; nieces and nephews: Carrie (Roger) Maynard, Melanie (Jeff) Reineke and Jon (Emily) Host, Michael (Heidi) Engstrom, Laura Engstrom (Dermot Ferry); many great nieces and nephews and friends.
Memorials can be made to the “Rural Legacy Project” to support the Iowa Rural Schools Museum. Please send memorials to the attention of Carol Raasch, 3021 Hope Ave., Odebolt, Iowa 51458.