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Obituaries: Crossman; Flores; Helm; Rio

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Caleb Andrew Crossman

Caleb Andrew Crossman: 2020 – 2024

Caleb Andrew Crossman was asleep and woke up in the arms of Jesus on March 22, 2024.

He was born at home on November 27, 2020, in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Caleb was a bouncing three-year old boy. He had a sweet disposition, was spunky, and loved to play with his brothers and sisters. He loved trains and would mimic the sound of them when he saw one. He loved to play in the dirt and help his Daddy in the garden. He drove his trucks; he fought with swords; he flew his planes.

Caleb brought joy to the lives of all his family and friends and will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his father, Jason; mother, Jennifer; five siblings: Gwendolyn, Stewart, Abigail, Edmund, and Esther, all of Cheyenne, Wyoming; as well as his paternal grandparents, Stewart and Eileen Crossman of Killeen, Texas; his maternal grandparents, John and Mary Bergstrom of Cheyenne, Wyoming; three aunts; four uncles; and eight cousins.

A funeral service will be held on Monday, April 1, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. at Yellowstone Baptist Church, 9204 Yellowstone Rd, Cheyenne, WY 82009.

A private committal service, for the family, to follow.

Reynalda Flores

Reynalda Flores: 1960 – 2024

Reynalda “Reyna” Flores passed away on March 22, 2024 after battling a brief illness. She was surrounded by her two older sons and caring husband, who never left her side.

She was born on January 5, 1960 to parents Herminia and Edmundo in the small town of Pedernales, Chih, Mexico. She was one of eight children: Josefa; Jesus; Socorro; Julieta; Maria; late Carlos and Manuel.

Reyna met Jose in the 1980’s and they started their family with the birth of Manuel Alejandro in 1989. A few years later, they then welcomed their second son, Rodolfo “Rudy” in 1993. An opportunity later presented itself and that same year, they decided to leave Mexico. Alongside their two children, they moved to Lafayette, Indiana, where they married on March 21, 1994 and shortly after, welcomed their third child Reina.

They remained in Lafayette for a few months then made the move to Cheyenne, Wyoming to be closer to Jose’s father. In Cheyenne, Reyna and her family remained in the same residence for the remainder of her life. She nurtured and cared for her children full-time and built her life alongside her husband. In 2018, she was blessed with her first grandchild, Ian; and in 2021, her second grandchild, Milo. She cared for both boys from the time that they were infants and grew a strong bond with them. Her grandchildren quickly became the light of her life.

Reyna was an amazing wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. She loved to maintain her garden and decorate for every holiday. She had a passion for dancing and loved to fill the house with sounds of her favorite music every opportunity she had. Any bejeweled clothing or nice colored nail polish always caught her eye. Each holiday she dedicated a great deal of time and energy to make delicious traditional Mexican dishes and made any guest feel welcomed.

Reyna was preceded in death by her brothers, Manuel and Carlos; and her parents, Edmundo and Herminia. She is survived by her loving husband of 30 years, Jose; sons, Manuel and Rudy (Amelia); daughter, Reina (Monica); and her two grandchildren.

Brenda Helm

Brenda Helm: 1957 – 2024

Brenda Helm, born Brenda Burgess on June 9,1957, passed away on March 14, 2024, at the age of 66 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Originally hailing from Greeley, Coloradso, Brenda led a remarkable life full of love, learning, and creativity.

Brenda pursued her passion as a nail technician for many years, bringing joy and beauty to those around her.

One of Brenda’s proudest accomplishments was raising her two beloved sons, Dustin and Dillon Helm. She cherished her role as a mother and found immense happiness in seeing her sons grow into wonderful individuals. Brenda’s nurturing spirit and unwavering support will forever be remembered by all who knew her.

In addition to her family life, Brenda also excelled academically, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Idaho. Her thirst for knowledge was insatiable, and she approached every opportunity for learning with enthusiasm and curiosity.

Brenda had a wide range of interests that brought her joy throughout her life. From illustrating to her love for animals, playing dominoes, shooting pool, enjoying episodes of Jeopardy, collecting rocks, treasures and always seeking Bigfoot, Brenda found beauty and wonder in the world around her. Her vibrant personality and zest for life were truly infectious.

Among Brenda’s proudest moments was the opportunity to illustrate one of her father’s books, “Comes A Pale Horse,” on November 1, 1998. This achievement not only highlighted Brenda’s artistic talent but also showcased her deep connection with her family and their shared passions.

Brenda is preceded in death by her father, Robert Burgess. She is survived by her loving family: Edna Burgess (mother); Dustin Helm (son); Erin Helm (daughter-in-law); Dillon Helm (son); and Mark Burgess (brother). Their hearts are heavy with grief at the loss of such a cherished mother, daughter, sister, and friend.

As we remember Brenda and celebrate the impact she had on each of our lives, let us carry forward the lessons she taught us about love and never-ending curiosity. May her memory be a blessing to all who were fortunate enough to know her.

Rest in peace, Brenda. You will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

Donna Rio

Donna Rio: 1927 – 2024

Donna Jean went out of this world the same way she came in…. with style. Born in Walhalla, North Dakota, with a tough Viking heritage, her childhood was lovely, spent without electricity or running water. When she was 14, her father, Jack Creiman, died of pneumonia, back before penicillin was available to the masses. Her mother, Anna Odegaard, promptly went to school and then worked as a teacher, instilling the need for education into all of her children. It made Donna more than game to go stay with an aunt in Fargo just to attend high school.

There were big dreams of a life of sophistication in Minneapolis, with her Mayville College Teaching degree in math. After all, she’d been born a true beauty and had even won a few beauty pageants along the way. Then she met another Norwegian…. Ken Rio. He was fresh out of the Marines and WWII, working on a biology degree. And so, she went to work while he went to school, and they eventually landed in Grand Forks where they stayed married until death do us part almost 70 years later.

There were three kids; a girl and then two boys, and not a sports game, musical, play, dance recital, concert, or piano show was missed. This chore was shared by her husband but it was a well-known secret that Donna would go to the dress rehearsals and time the relevant presentations so that he only had to sit through his particular offspring’s performance.

Donna really shined at entertaining with her impeccable home décor and legendary humor. She once held a luncheon in 1980 where she invited only people named Donna. It was a resounding success and the laughter never stopped as people slowly caught on. The event made it into a chapter of Marilyn Hagerty’s book “Echoes”. (Marilyn was the journalist from The Grand Forks Herald whose review of the town’s new Olive Garden Restaurant went viral in 2012).

Donna accepted the cultural norms of her day and went by her husband’s name for years but there was always a seam of independence lurking underneath. She fought fiercely for her children’s right to live the lives they desired, even when it didn’t necessarily match up to what she had imagined for them. When she was finally able to have her own checking account, things became much clearer and that independent streak took to the forefront. This carried her through the far-too-early deaths of two sons, Tim, and then Scott.

In her eighties, she finally decided to give horseback riding a try and found out that it could be really fun. Or at least the fantastic Christmas card photos made it all worthwhile.

Her husband, Ken, died just before the Covid pandemic. She then surrendered to the necessity of leaving her “real” home in North Dakota, and moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming to be with her daughter, Joni. The daughter who had made extremely different choices in life, choosing the ‘Cowgirl Tough’ path, with a side of Lumberjack. Not to be daunted, Donna brought her own certain grace and vivaciousness to Cheyenne and never stopped believing that she could bring a little class to her only daughter’s wardrobe.

And what fun, now that she was her own woman without a man making her decisions. There were sea cruises, and parties, lunches out, lots of costume jewelry, and epic trips to Walmart for anything she wanted! She left behind a lifetime supply of blush, moisturizers, vitamins, and plug-in air fresheners.
Unfortunately, the indignities are of old age are legion. After a lifetime of fooling everyone about her age, her age came to meet her. Just two weeks shy of 97, she entered hospice on a Saturday and died on Sunday. She’d won that competition with her usual determination.

Donna’s startling humor, elegant fashion sense, unfailing parental support, and ability to drive her only beloved daughter crazy will be deeply missed.