1921 - 2021
Elsie Reis, a lifelong resident of Arroyo Grande, passed away on July 4th, 2021 at 100 years of age. She was born in Arroyo Grande to the late George Petker and Mary Smith Petker on February 13, 1921. Elsie was the youngest of 11 children. They lived at the family home in Huasna until just before the Stock Market Crash when they moved to town and lived in a little red house near the Swinging Bridge. She attended school through 7th grade at the elementary school that was located where the Ford Dealership is today. Her family returned to their Huasna home in time for her to attend 8th grade in the Huasna one room schoolhouse. She was the only student graduating that year. She then completed her education at Arroyo Grande High School. She frequently spoke of living in Huasna where her family lived off of the land. She was an avid hunter and often rode a horse into the hills and returned with a deer to add to the family’s food supply.
She married John Reis Jr. on December 5th, 1941 in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were on their honeymoon when they heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. It was an emotional time for her when we visited the memorial in Hawaii in 1992. John and Elsie spent 40 years together living, working, and raising their family in Arroyo Grande. It was back in the day when every holiday was celebrated with large family gatherings and home cooked meals. Elsie retired from the Lucia Mar School District after working for 25 years as the Manager of the Central Kitchen. After John passed away, she worked for a time at Baxters Men’s Store and then finally as a morning hostess at the local McDonald’s where she met many new friends. She belonged to the Arroyo Grande Community Hospital Auxiliary for 35 years, volunteering first on the floor and then at the information desk. She also was a member of CSEA, the Arroyo Grande Sportsmen’s Club and the Arroyo Grande Historical Society. Her hobbies included; crocheting (she made afghans for all of her children and grandchildren), gardening, deer hunting and of course, cooking. She was an excellent driver and drove her car with its special personalized license plate, GRAMALC, until she was 93. She was so proud of her grandchildren and the wonderful people they grew up to be. She spent a lot of time attending their school events and cherished the time she spent with each of them. She was lucky to live long enough to know and enjoy her great grandchildren as well.
Elsie saw a lot of changes in the world and Arroyo Grande in particular, during her 100 years - some she enjoyed and was thankful for, and some not so much. She had an amazing memory of the early days of the area and loved to tell stories about things that happened. During her later years, we often took rides around the county and she would share stories about the places we passed. She seemed to have a built-in GPS and always knew where we were or how to get there even as her vision failed. We usually stopped at either the Quarter Deck, CoCo’s or Taco Bell for lunch before going back to her home.
Elsie is survived by her son, Richard of Orting, WA; daughter, JoAnn Richardson of Atascadero, CA; grandchildren, Jim Reis (Laurel) of Meridian, Idaho, Julie Reis Moraga (Juan Carlos) of Folsom, CA, and Saira Richardson West (Jerad) of Truckee, CA; and great grandchildren, Lianne and Megan Reis, Brian and Katelyn Moraga, and Jack, Ellis and Harlow West. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Mary Reis of Los Osos, CA. In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her 10 siblings, John Reis Jr, Clifford Eslick and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank Carollyn Wingrave for her in-home care that allowed our Mom to remain in her home far longer than would otherwise have been possible. We would also like to thank the staff at Danish Care Center for their excellent care of Mom during the last 18 months. Mom survived both a positive COVID test and pneumonia during this time.
It’s very hard to summarize someone’s 100 years on earth in a few words but I will leave you with this—
she was a wonderful mother and grandmother and we always knew she loved us as dearly as we did her.
We were fortunate to have her for so long.
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