Lavena “Lee” Mae Helterbrand was born in Coin, Iowa to parents Hank and Mahala Helterbrand. Four years later, the family moved and settled on their Modesto, CA dairy. Lee learned early on what it was like to work hard, to appreciate family and to be proud of who she was.
While attending Modesto High School, she developed her love of the Arts through piano and was a regular at the Merry Garden skating rink where she met and married Perry Wester in 1954. She raised her family while working at Lyng’s Seed and Feed as a bookkeeper and Weigh Master, a bookkeeper for Borden’s, Knudsen’s, Foster Farms Milk Plants, and an office manager for Mid-Valley Dairymen. Later in life, she enrolled in an adult education dance class where she met her future husband Charles (Chuck) Brown. Lee went on to pursue her interest in real estate, acquiring her broker’s license and became a real estate investor.
Known for her quick wit and zest for life, Lee enjoyed dancing, painting, traveling, piano, attending church, and landscaping. Above all, Lee loved being surrounded by her friends and family.
Lee is survived by her sister, Irene Helterbrand; her children, Cathy Bankson, Terry Wester, and Christine (Cornelius, “Casey”) Van Rys; 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.