OBITUARY: Helen Varner

Helen Varner, born Helen Solonika on August 4, 1935, in Revloc, Pennsylvania, peacefully passed away on December 18, 2023, at the age of 88. She married William G. Varner in 1957 in Pittsburgh. They moved to Wisconsin in 1965, to Astoria, Oregon, in 1970; and then finally to Salem, Oregon, in 1986.

Helen was a beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and friend.

Helen was a quiet and private person who found joy in the simple things in life. She had a deep love for children and cherished the moments spent with them. Her sense of humor, contentment, and kind and gentle nature touched the lives of those around her. In 2000, she retired from her career as an administrative assistant with the Oregon Department of Transportation in Salem.

She is survived by her three children: William K. Varner (and wife, Becky) of Astoria, Kathleen R. Gillis (and partner, Tony Pacini) of Portland, and Suzanne M Day (and partner, Nathan Farber) of Salem. Helen is also survived by her brother, Joseph Solonika (and wife, Bonnie) of Redgranite, Wisconsin.

Her memory will be forever cherished by her grandchildren: Krista Tate (and husband, Randy Tate) of Hillsboro, Brice Rosenau of LaPine, Kyle Rosenau (and fiancé, Lilly Hermosillo) of Salem, Nikki Day (and partner, Grant Eckelman) of Otis. and Michelle Day (and partner, Ryan Orosz) of Hillsboro, and great-grandchild Taylor Tate.

Helen was preceded in death by her loving husband, William G. Varner, and her siblings – Michael, John, Peter, Paul, Mary, Ann, and Margaret.

A memorial service in honor of Helen’s life will be held on Thursday, February 8, 2023, at noon at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Salem, Oregon.

Donations in Helen’s memory may be made to any of her favorite charities: Marion Polk Food Share (, Boys & Girls Club (, Center for Hope & Safety (; and Kagyu Changchub Chuling ( See also

May Helen’s soul find eternal peace, and may her memory bring comfort to all those who knew her.

Helen Varner (graduation photo)

–Submitted information

GUIDE: Publishing an obituary on Salem Reporter