Virginia Arlene (Updike) Jenkins

NLJ Staff



Feb. 3, 1930–April 20, 2019

On Feb. 3, 1930, God released an angel into the arms of Richard Riley Updike and Eva Emily (Walter) Updike, entrusting her care unto them. They named her Virginia Arlene. On April 20, 2019, at the age of 89, God called this angel home.

When Arlene was born, she joined an older sister, Elverta. Five years later, she gained a new baby sister, Evelyn. 

Arlene enjoyed her childhood in Osage, Wyo., spending much time at the hardware store her dad owned and operated, and the local Pines Motel that was built, owned and operated by her parents. She attended elementary school in Osage and graduated from Newcastle High School in 1948. She met a handsome local boy, Walter William (Bill) Jenkins in 1947 and fell in love. Bill and Arlene were married on June 5, 1949, and welcomed home four children, Sherry Lee, Walter Richard, Eddie Neal, and Kathy Lynae. After high school, Arlene worked for Mountain Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. as a switchboard operator until they changed to dial phones in 1959 or 1960. After that, she worked for Pringle Motor as a bookkeeper and the U.S. postal service. 

She was a stay-at-home mom from 1961 to 1970 when she started working for the Upton school system as a lunchroom attendant and janitor. During this time, she cleaned various private homes, city buildings and the area businesses of Goodwell Inc., and Arrow Service, retiring from the school in 1997. A year later, she was invited back on a part-time basis cleaning the administration offices and substituting for the full-time janitors. 

In 2016, at the age of 86 and against her desire, Arlene was asked to retire. She always said she liked to clean and many would say they couldn’t find anyone to clean as well as she did. Arlene loved the kids at school, offering a hug to any child who needed one. She and Bill even supervised the children playing at the community center after school. Arlene loved walking to work. Her strength and stamina would outlast any youngster. She enjoyed walking because it gave her time to talk to God, and she loved those conversations.

Arlene enjoyed crocheting, crafting, and baking. Cookies, cakes, and popcorn were never scarce at her house. But her greatest joy was playing with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When she was no longer able to participate in play, she still enjoyed watching them. Arlene had a compassionate heart, opening her door to offer a meal, and caring for animals. She loved her kitties.

As the years went on, Alzheimer’s took a foothold in Arlene. But that didn’t slow her down in the least. Her family is grateful to the compassionate citizens of Upton who understood and gave her a “day off from work” when she showed up unexpectedly after retirement.

Over the years, Arlene was blessed with 11 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandsons.

Arlene is preceded in death by her parents and her two sisters. 

She is survived by her husband, Bill Jenkins; her children, Sherry (Mike) French, Walt (Lorree) Jenkins, Edd (LaVonne) Jenkins, and Kathy (Tim) Ingles; and her grandchildren, Bryan (Jennifer) Kelly, Joshua (Tandie) Kelly, Liz (Jim) Seaton, Roxanne Espinosa, Shenna (Travis) Knodel, Mike (Shayla) Jenkins, Sierra (Skot) Sandmann, Beth (Rich) Carter, James Wilson, Jordan Ingles (Jessi Sodders), and Gabriel Ingles.

The family asks that you join them in celebrating Arlene’s life at a memorial service held at the Upton Community Center on May 11 at 2 p.m.


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