Lona Helen Rose Kovach Reed
1916 - 2009, Santa Barbara
Lona Helen Rose Kovach Reed died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, February 22nd, at 1:45 am. Born December 30th, 1916, of Hungarian immigrants, Julius Albert & Mary Bolla Kovach, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lona was one of nine children, seven of whom survived infancy. Her mother cleaned houses, her father was a flimflam man who was said to have sold the Brooklyn Bridge more than once. Lona remembered waking up in the dead of night to find a cow in the kitchen, which he had won in a poker game. She never forgot the time half the children were sent to an orphanage so everyone would have enough food, or the night they killed their last chicken, Lame Louise, whom none of them could bear to eat.
As a teenager Lona and her sister Peggy fled to Atlantic City. Lona lasted 3 days as a waitress, then set up an easel on the pier and sketched pastel portraits for tips. Sketching on Miami Beach, she met my father, Bobby Reed, a sailor and piano player, who wrote tunes for his unit, the U. S. Navy Amphibious Forces. My parents danced every night until the bands stopped playing. Lona was among the first to wear men's slacks since they didn't make women's yet, and drew so much attention my father had to marry her to fend off the boys (or so he said). Then I came along, and my brother Brian.
My father played piano in night clubs where temptations were rife and often did not come home for days. We lived in Hollywood until we lost our rental, and borrowed $200 to put down on a tract house in Canoga Park. I was fourteen when my father left the last time and Mom moved us back to Hollywood where she blossomed, returning to her life as a sketch artist. She loved driving to the beach, the smell of the ocean, the freedom and independence, and the tips. In 1973 we both moved to Santa Barbara where Lona began a long career on the Art Walk, lugging her easel and pastels to the beach on Sundays. Her paintings, portraits and sculpture give joy to her customers all over the world.
She lived at Pilgrim Terrace for 25 years. She attended classes in theology, painting, sculpture and philosophy, ever the seeker of wisdom, always striving to improve her artistic skills & raise her spiritual consciousness. She studied Buddhism, taught yoga, swam laps at the Y, and led the solitary life of a thinker and student.
My mother has been a supportive friend and a brave soul, who led an interesting, independent life on her own terms. She will be missed.
Lona is survived by her brothers Jules & Bob, her son, Reverend Brian Reed, his wife Beverly, grandchildren Anna, Sarah and Daniel, and by her daughter Shelley Reed Cole, her husband Skip, grandchildren, Daryn, Luke, Peter, Thomas and Sarah, and her great granddaughter Skyler.