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Retta Jean (Woods) Helsley Gentry



Retta Jean Helsley Gentry,  94, entered rest on May 16, 2021 while residing at Amber Manor in Petersburg. Retta was born on December 14, 1926 in Owensville to Mary Elizabeth Watson Woods. Retta was a lifelong resident of Gibson County until moving to Amber Manor in Petersburg. She attended Owensville Schools and moved to Francisco in 1942, graduating from Francisco High School in 1944.

Retta married William Robert Helsley and had 3 daughters. During this time she worked at all the schools in Barton Township before being hired by Whirlpool Ordinance and then Whirlpool’s main plant. She was a loyal Whirlpool employee until her retirement in 1995 after 25 years of service. She then became a product demonstrator for Walmart and Sam’s Club before retiring again in 2012.

Retta served as a Pink Lady for Wirth Hospital until it closed, was a member of Forsythe United Methodist Church and the UMC Women’s Group. She also became the chief chicken fryer for FUMC’s public dinners for nearly 8 years-the job she treasured most.

Retta is survived by her daughters, Brenda Willis (John) and Jo Miley, both of Oakland City; sisters, Barbara Coleman of Princeton and Marie Williams of East Chatham, NY; sister-in-law, Joyce Woods of High Ridge, MO; grandchildren, Michael Schmidt (Christine) of Evansville, Jason Willis (Amanda) of Lafayette, Krista Trentham (Timothy) of Evansville, Jonathan Willis (Ashley) of Oakland City and Abigail Miley of Evansville; 11 great grandchildren; and 4 great great grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her mother; mother-in-law and father-in-law; husbands, William Robert Helsley (1965) and Bennie O. Gentry (1990); daughter, Marilyn Kay Schmidt (2002); granddaughter, Sandy Kay Schmidt Ramage (2008); brother, Lloyd Woods (2012); brothers-in-law, Noel Williams (1983) and Arthur Coleman (1983); sisters and brothers-in-law, Kathleen (2018) and Ermiel (1997) Stilwell and Imolee (2019) and Louis (2016) Buck; and nieces and nephews.

Funeral Services will be held at 2 pm (CDT) on Wednesday, May 19, 2019 at Corn-Colvin Funeral Home in Oakland City, with Rev. Marianne Hawkins officiating. Burial will follow at Somerville Cemetery in Somerville. Visitation will be held from 11 am until 2 pm (CDT) on Wednesday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Somerville Cemetery, c/o Jim Miller, 7962 E 550 S, Francisco, IN 47649.

You may leave a message of sympathy or light a candle in memory of Retta at  The Corn-Colvin Funeral Home is honored to serve Retta’s family.


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Retta Jean (Woods) Helsley Gentry, please visit our floral store.


May 19, 2021

11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Corn-Colvin Funeral Home
323 North Main Street
Oakland City, IN 47660

Funeral Service
May 19, 2021

2:00 PM
Bittles & Hurt Funeral Home
602 E. Washington
Greencastle, IN 46135

Interment following funeral service
May 19, 2021

Somerville Cemetery
SR 57
Somerville, IN 47683

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