Rena was the 10th of 12 children to Walter and Wilhelmina James. Rena was daddy’s favorite. He would have spoiled her rotten if she would have let him. Daddy wanted to buy Rena her first car, but she refused, wanting to buy it for herself.
Rena graduated, at 18 years old, from McClatchy High School, here in Sacramento, in 1949. She took the advice of a teacher and took up shorthand. That skill promptly afforded her the ability to start working, the Monday after graduation, at Mercantile Acceptance Corp as a secretary. She earned that $200 needed to buy her 1936 Plymouth. Did we mention that she didn’t know how to drive? Her lifelong friend, Caroline, taught her. Caroline was an amazing teacher. Rena drove until she was 90. Yes 90!
Rena was courted by Larry Vienna. She loved to dress up in heels, hat and gloves for a night out of dinner and dancing. Rena loved live music and recalled a night out at The Purple Onion Comedy Club with Phyllis Diller. Rena and Larry married in 1952; they had 6 children.
Rena loved being around her family and spending time with her 6 children, 5 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren. Weekend dinners, holiday gathering and birthday parties were always spent together as a true family unit. London broil, pasta and Lazy Daisy cake were family favorites.
Rena loved and was loved by her family very much. She had innumerable extended families. Rena established a daycare 50 years ago out of her home, which is still in existence today. She lived, thrived and died in her home with family by her side, a proud home that was built in 1964, where her dad was able to assist with the finishing touches using his talent of stuccoing.
Throughout her wonderful long life, Rena touched countless lives. She was adored and loved by everyone that met her. A conversation with Rena revealed a gentle, loving and caring soul. We know that’s how she would have wanted to be remembered. Thank you for joining us in remembrance of Mom.