Paula Jean Yingst passed away peacefully at her home in Roseburg, OR on Feb. 25, with her loving husband Jim by her side.
Paula was born on April 11, 1942 in Los Angeles, Calif. to Bob and Dorothy Loffler, right before her identical twin Penny Jo. She spent her youth swimming in the ocean, playing golf with her father, and working with children as a Girl Scout Leader and camp counselor. After graduating from Venice High School, she attended the University of California Berkeley, where she met her husband Jim and obtained a degree in Elementary Education. Jim’s mining career took them first to Salt Lake City, Utah, where they lived for 10 years and started their family, consisting of son Jim and daughters Stephanie and Elizabeth. Paula started her career in the nearby town of Magna, where she taught in a school built in the shadow of the mining complex where her husband worked.
They later moved to the Wild West of Arizona and Nevada, where she embraced the desert terrain and Southwest Culture, eagerly learning how to cook Mexican food “the authentic way” and traveling across the border to bargain with the locals for Mexican wares. Paula was proud to have survived living in three different ghost towns - Inspiration, Ariz., Christmas, Ariz.; and Tonopah, NV.
Paula touched the lives of many children during her life, sharing her love of curiosity, learning and creativitiy. The majority of her career was spent teaching the Advanced Learning Program at Copper Rim School in Globe, a school she aptly named to honor the local copper industry. Her students helped make this job one of her very favorites, and she maintained contact with many throughout her life. She and Jim later moved to Tucson, where she worked as the Director of Education at the Tucson Children’s Museum, and loved having the freedom to create new curriculum. After retiring, she became a Master Gardener and discovered a new passion for photography, painting, and creating unique collages using interesting pieces of “junk” she came across on her many adventures. Jim’s retirement brought about their final move up to Roseburg, OR, where they loved spending time fishing, hunting, camping, and relaxing.
Paula was overcome with heartbreak after the loss of her twin and brother-in-law, Penny and Roland Rinne, in a car accident 25 years ago. She sought therapy to help her through, and ended up becoming a grief counselor and Stephens Minister, working with grieving children, other twinless twins, and hospice. Her life took a drastic turn again six years ago when she had a serious fall in her home, suffering a spinal cord injury that left her partially paralyzed. She learned to use a motorized wheelchair and adaptive tools on her hand so that she could write, use utensils, and turn the pages of books. She often spoke of how grateful she was for the kindness and patience shown to her by friends, strangers, therapists, and caregivers.
Paula was blessed with a full and happy life. She valued family and faith, but mostly she valued and enjoyed people. She cherished her friends both old and new, and loved getting to know people and learning about their lives. Her cremated remains will be interred at Roseburg National Cemetery, which she observed being constructed during her frequent walks through the VA and Stewart Park. Paula will forever be remembered for being kind, encouraging, quirky, and determined to find joy and humor in a life full of the unexpected.
She is survived by her husband Jim, sister Donna Flinders (Bob), son Jim (Sandra), daughters Stephanie Galloway (Steve) and Elizabeth Stull (Brian); grandchildren Luke, Max, Paul, Jack, Grey, and Zia; Penny’s daughters April Rinne (Jerry) and Allison Douglas (Stephan), and numerous other beloved nieces, nephews, and other extended family. She is preceded in death by her parents, twin Penny, and Penny’s husband Roland Rinne.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. on June 21, at First United Methodist Church, in Roseburg, OR. In lieu of flowers, Paula requested that donations be made to the church by visiting www.fumcroseburg.com.