Charleen Joy Lenz, 88, died on July 13, 2020.
She was born in Iowa City, Iowa on May 20, 1932 to Charles Elston Thatcher and Lola Corrine Dayton Thatcher.
She grew up in Iowa City, went to Iowa City High School, graduating in 1950 and later attending the University of Iowa where she met her first husband, Ben Gibson Whittington. They married in 1956 and moved to California. In 1971 they moved from Riverside to Yucaipa where they raised three children, Dane, Lea and Lesa. In the early to mid 1970’s Charleen ran the family business, Yucaipa Feed Store where she thrived as a businesswoman and made friends easily. She was an active leader in the Yucaipa Chapter of the 4-H Club and enjoyed mentoring young people.
In 1977 when her first marriage dissolved and the family business was sold, she worked for various business in town and then finally found her nitch at the Yucaipa-Calimesa News Mirror. She worked at the paper for thirteen “fun filled” years. She loved her job selling advertising and felt privileged to work with so many great friends and colleagues.
In 1990 Charleen attended Iowa City High’s class reunion where she reunited with her high school sweetheart Ralph “Bud” Lenz. She later remarked that dancing with Bud was one of the great joys of her life. They married in 1994, moved to Iowa City and spent the next eight winters traveling the United States in their RV, their cat “Mommy Kitty” and their dog “Beau,” making friends everywhere they went and having adventures. Her marriage to Bud brought her three stepdaughters, Cheri, Sue and Lisa and ten grandchildren and two great-grandchilden.
Bud passed in 2002 and Charleen decided that her final home would be in Yucaipa. During the last twenty years she was an active member of the Yucaipa Valley Historical Society and again found a group of friends and colleagues that shared her passions for history, artifacts and her love of Yucaipa and the Southern California high desert region. She enjoyed the challenges of putting together the museum collections and enthusiastically looked forward to the days when she volunteered.
She survived by her children, Dane Whittington (and Elena Savitcheva), Lea Whittington (and Marcus Adams), and Lesa Whittington. Her stepdaughters Cheri (and Roger) Hill, Susan (and Brian) Wilson and Lisa (and Marty) McDonald. Ten grandchildren, Austin, Calvin, Grant, Kelsey, Mallory, Connor, Colin, Timothy (preceded in death), Caleb, Mary, and two great grandchildren, McKenna and Brad; her siblings Jo Ruth Fudge and Timothy Thatcher.
At a future date a celebration of Charleen’s life will be held in Yucaipa. The family asks that in leu of flowers donations be made in Charleen’s name to “The Living Desert Zoo/Gardens” in Palm Desert, at: https://livingdesert.donorshops.com/