Rena Mae Charette Keith, 85, formerly of Sierra Vista, AZ, passed away peacefully on October 27, 2019 at her daughter’s home in Chandler, AZ after a rapid decline with dementia. Her husband and four children had all been together sharing in her care.
She is survived by her sister Sylvia Michaud (Gene) of Presque Isle, Maine, her husband, Willard Lee of Chandler, AZ, her sons Willard “Butch” Jr (Jenise) of Ogden, UT and Jefferey of Sierra Vista, AZ, her daughters, Patricia May of Sierra Vista, AZ and Debra Ann Cenatiempo (Donald) of Chandler, AZ, 10 grandchildren, and 30 great grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her father Armand Pea Charette, her mother Laura Gagnon, her brothers Lawrence, Edward, and Delsie (Angela), and her sisters Claudette, Dora Rice (George), Delores Martin (Richard) , Dorothy “Lulu”, and Norma.
Rena was born August 10, 1934 in Ft. Kent, Maine. She grew up speaking French as her primary language. She was a member of the Catholic Church and attended Catholic Schools. She was always fun-loving and a prankster, even with the nuns.
She left High School early at age 16, to travel to the big city of Hartford, CT with two girlfriends. She loved laughter and people. She enjoyed music from the Big Band era and dancing the night away. It was love at first sight meeting Willard at a coffee shop, and they soon married on September 30, 1953 in Manchester, Connecticut. They recently celebrated 66 years of marriage! They had 4 children and traveled to live wherever the military sent them. This included West Point, NY; Aschaffenburg, Germany; Alexandria, VA; Frankfurt, Germany; and finally Junction City, KS. After Willard’s military retirement, they lived in Florida, Utah, Sierra Vista, AZ for 20 years, back to Florida, her home state of Maine, and back to Sierra Vista in 2014. They moved into their daughter’s home in Chandler only 9 days before her passing.
In addition to her love of being a mother and homemaker, Rena also enjoyed owning her own businesses with The Diet Center and Herbalife (Junction City, KS), Speedy Pack and Ship (Layton, UT), and her craft and stained glass businesses (Sierra Vista, AZ). She was a very creative and talented artist. In her last years, she thoroughly enjoyed adult coloring books until it became too difficult for her.
Rena and her family converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August of 1970 and their family was sealed for time and eternity in the LDS Swiss Temple in 1972. Her loved ones will take comfort in knowing their family can be together forever, but will miss their mother, wife, sister, grandmother, and friend.
Visitation will be on November 4th, 2019 at 10:00 am, followed by a memorial service at 11:00 am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 1950 West Galveston Street in Chandler, AZ. A private family burial will take place the same day at 2:00 pm at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix, AZ.