Obituary: Reha Parthene Seekins (July 19, 1922-Jan. 3, 2024)

Proebstel resident Reha Seekins departed this world peacefully in her home with loved ones at her side.
Reha Parthene Seekins

Proebstel resident Reha Seekins departed this world peacefully in her home with loved ones at her side

It is with heavy hearts, and a glorious hope, that family members share the passing of Reha Parthene Seekins, 101 and one half years old, of Proebstel, WA. On the morning of Jan. 3, 2024, she departed this world peacefully in her home with loved ones at her side. 

Reha was born in Smith Center, Kansas, on July 19, 1922, and moved to Portland, OR when she was 12, attending Girls Polytechnic throughout her high school years. On Aug. 6, 1939, just newly 17, she met the love of her life, Claire George Seekins, at the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park. They married in March of 1940 after a seven-month courtship and engagement and spent their first 10 years in Portland and then Washougal, working and raising their four boys. 1950 found them moving their family to a farm in Proebstel, WA, having their fifth child – and only daughter – and later opening and operating Seekins Dairy. Together, Claire and Reha remained a cornerstone of the Seekins clan in Washington through their 65th wedding anniversary and, shortly after, the passing of Claire in August, 2005. 

Reha’s life was marked by her strong sense of loyalty and love toward her family and her determination to selflessly serve those in her community from the local high school to her neighborhood church. 

After a few short years working at Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill in Camas and the cannery in Vancouver, Reha’s service to the community began at the Evergreen School District as a cafeteria lunch lady. She was a fan and enforcer of proper behavior and promptly “handled” any misbehaving students in her lunch line. 

She started a culinary arts class at Evergreen High School and, in developing the program, her classroom became a restaurant, “VICA Vittles,” where students would prepare and serve food to the school’s administrators and staff. The Culinary Arts program moved from EHS to the Skills Center which originally hosted training in only a few vocations to students at Evergreen High School. This program has since been renamed to Cascadia Tech Academy and now partners with all schools in Clark County and provides training in many different vocations. 

Students who thought they were taking a class for an easy high school credit got a lot more than just culinary arts skills. Reha played the role of mentor, life-teacher, and stand-in mother for many during her years, encouraging and supporting her students. 

Reha also volunteered many of her hours sewing and teaching outside of the school district. She taught Sunday School, sewed dance costumes and cheer uniforms, and enjoyed her time helping with 4-H. 

As she developed her own hobbies of knitting, spinning, loom-weaving, felting, and lace-making, Reha devoted much of her time to the spinners’ and knitters’ guilds serving in leadership roles including being president. She loved to learn, teach, and share her arts with others. 

Her biggest love and greatest skill set, however, involved food. She was always making something for others in addition to her own family. Her son, Roger, often brought high school teammates home for dinner unannounced. She would always find a way to double the pot of spaghetti or soup or tuna casserole and everyone ate together without being any the wiser. 

In between her careers and hobbies, Reha attended countless athletic events for her five children and eight grandchildren. In her later years she also attended many of her great grandchildren’s events as well as followed some of their college football games on TV. 

Reha had a remarkable sense of what is good and proper. This was notable in her food preparation and party-hosting as her dinner parties boasted all of the accouterments. She also had an impeccable sense of fashion – new clothing, matching purses and shoes, and fresh lipstick – even up until her final days. 

She was handy in finding cures for any childhood ailment from a sore throat to a broken heart, and, despite the hardships in her own life, displayed incredible wisdom. She knew that someone somewhere always had it worse than she did; no one ever saw her shed a tear. She always knew that there was much to be thankful for. 

Reha’s contribution to the Kaiser Shipyard is commemorated in a sculpture on the Waterfront Renaissance Trail in Vancouver. You can find her name, along with the names of other contributors, engraved in the sculpture titled, “Wendy Rose,” which celebrates the spirit and legacy of women in the WWII era. 

Reha was preceded in death by her husband Claire Seekins and their four sons Jim, Gary, Roger, and Harold. 

She is survived by her daughter, Jerilue Seekins Hopley (Mike), grandchildren Heidi Burkett (Rob), Megan Schutt (Russ); grandchildren of deceased sons, Kelly Bratcher, Corey Seekins (Kamie), Ryan Seekins (Michelle), Sundee Racanelli (Josh), Sid Seekins (Marta), Derek Seekins (Kari), 23 fabulous great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren, a host of beloved nieces and nephews, daughters-in-law, extended family and friends who will forever carry her memory with them. 

Reha is now surrounded by nearly as many loved ones in heaven as she was surrounded by here. 

A celebration of Reha’s life will be held on Sun., March 24, 12:30 p.m. at Evergreen Memorial Gardens followed by a reception at Proebstel Evangelical Free Church at 3 p.m.. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Meals on Wheels in honor of Reha and her faithful contributions over the years. 

Her family greatly appreciates the warm and caring assistance of Landmark, Hospice, and our loving caregivers.

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