In 1916, Stelle was born to immigrant parents, Constance and Joseph Jelesky of Gary, Indiana. Along with her older brother Victor, she spent her early years in the Gary/Chicago area. Her slight height (barely 5 feet tall) earned her the nickname of “Tiny.”
In 1936 she married Jack McCool in the East Pine Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Indiana. They had two sons, Jack Jr. (Bud) and Larry James. During the war she worked at U.S. Steel (the Gary Works) producing armor plate for WWII tanks. The family resided in Gary, Indiana until Stelle and Jack Sr. divorced in 1947. In February 1947, Stelle and her two sons moved to San Bernardino, California. She would live and work in the area for the next 61 years.
Energetic, social and feisty, Stelle was a hard worker. In California she had a number of jobs including as a car hop at the original McDonalds drive-in and selling classified ad space at the local newspaper (The Sun Telegram). Since she liked sales and to talk on the telephone, the latter was one of the jobs that she liked best.
In 1953, Stelle married Tommy Chapin. They resided in San Bernardino until they sold their home in 1976, and moved to the nearby community of Rialto. After Tommy’s passing in 1986, she continued to live in the Rialto area for the next 22 years. In 2008 she moved to Oregon where she lived close to her son Larry.
Stelle loved spending time with her family and friends. She enjoyed traveling and music. One of her passions was doing volunteer work at the local hospital in San Bernardino which she did for many years as a member of the ‘pink ladies.’ She especially liked to do crafts and donate them to the hospital for sale at the annual Christmas bazaar – Christmas was one of her favorite times of the year.
Stelle is survived by two sons, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. She lived a long and productive life — as wife, mother, and grandmother – 100 years of cherished life experiences. She was loved by many and will be greatly missed.
After a memorial service in Portland, Oregon, she will be laid to rest in Montecito Memorial Park in San Bernardino alongside her late husband of 33 years, Tommy Chapin.
In lieu of flowers, for those who wish, a charitable donation may be made in the memory of Stelle Chapin to a charity of your choosing.
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