Sunday, September 27, 2009

Leonard, Helen Maxine (Crowell)

Helen Maxine (Crowell) Leonard
Waverly, Iowa

Born in Des Moines, Iowa on April 5, 1919
Died in Waverly, Iowa on October 2, 2005
Burial services held October 6, 2005 at Oakland Cemetery, Janesville, Iowa


The following is transcribed, with permission from the obituary posted by Kaiser-Corson Funeral Homes Inc. web page. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maxine's daughters and son during this time of loss.

Helen Maxine Leonard drew her first breath on April 5, 1919 in Des Moines, Iowa and returned to her Heavenly Father during the early morning hours of October 2, 2005 while in hospice care at the Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community in Waverly, Iowa

Maxine was the daughter of Henry and Violet (Wright) Crowell. She spent her first 25 years engaged in a flurry of creative activities ranging from becoming an award winning drummer in her high school orchestra and marching band, singing as a regular on a Saturday morning "Teen Frolic" radio broadcast on (radio station) WHO when Ronald Reagan was a D.J., writing a regular column for her school newspaper and modeling for magazines that were being published in Des Moines at the time.

In 1944 she married Laurence Otto Leonard and began her journey as a career military man's wife, welcoming the opportunity to live in many places and meet and make many new friends.

In her late thirties, Maxine was stricken with acute rheumatoid arthritis, found herself bedridden and with little hope given from the traditional mainstream medical world. Never complaining, she began what became a lifelong exploration of the alternative remedies and treatments with great success. During this time she discovered a passion for researching family history and published 13 books on the subject -- several in rare book libraries on the east coast. Later she was asked to write the history of Janesville during the year of their 125th celebration. For 20 years, Maxine wrote and published her church newsletter as well as a family quarterly and a newsletter for Larry's cavalry unit, still finding time to sing in the Sweet Adeleines and direct the Waterloo Mothers Chorus.

In retirement, Maxine loved traveling here and abroad, visiting old friends and family as much as she reveled in the private tranquility of her country home, with a cat purring in her lap while she and Larry identified birds at the bird feeder.

Maxine is survived by her birth son, Brant Warren Leonard of Travers City, Michigan, Hans Martin (Joyce) Leonard of Green Ridge, Missouri, and Karin Maria Leonard of Cedar Falls, Iowa whom they adopted as children while they were stationed in Austria, as well as 9 grandchildren and her cat. She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved partner, Larry, her prankster brother Floyd Crowell, her precious boy Brian and her 15 year old lightfilled granddaughter Adrianne Leonard Eacret.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, October 6, 2005 at 1:00 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Chapel (Bartels Lutheran Retirement Community) in Waverly, with Ken Shaw presiding. Burial will be in Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville. Visitation will be held on Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Kaiser-Corson Funeral Home in Waverly and also for an hour before services on Thursday at the Good Shepherd Chapel. Please direct memorials to the Cedar Valley Hospice or

OCTOBER 6, 2005

Karin, Brant and Hans this is a great honor to be standing here today. Thank you.

The banner on the casket spray "Still the Boss" came about the other day as the Hospice staff was moving Maxine on her bed and she said "Don’t move me" and just to leave her lay the way she was. Karin told her "Don’t worry Mommy, your Still the Boss."

Maxine felt reading the obituary was unnecessary since we’ve all read it before the service starts. So if you haven’t read it, do so later. Hers was an amazing life. And if you haven’t see the life album that she put together look at that.

I worked in business for 30 years and endured annual performance appraisals. Inevitably they will focus on the last couple of months instead of that year or an entire career. So within a few minutes today I want to share not the life of Maxine but the last couple of years of the 25 years that Sheryl and I knew Maxine. First as the chorister of the Cedar Falls congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and finally as the closest thing to a Mother and Grandmother to both of us. Sheryl or I saw her at least twice a week for one reason or another the past several years.

The picture over there fits so into her plan as the "Boss" to go home to our Heavenly Father at this time of year. She would receive therapeutic massages from my wife or me on our portable table in her living room. Each time she sat up on the table she would look at that picture and say. "Isn’t it beautiful?" I want to sit here for a second, this is the perfect angle for me to see the path and the beauty of the fall colors." The clothing that you saw her earthly body in was a part of her Path. They are the temple robes of a faithful Christian and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and reflect a deep commitment to God and His Son Jesus Christ. She wears them because of her absolute belief in the eternalness of Mankind and the day of Resurrection we all look forward to.

Last night I got on the computer and typed a search for my name Joe Beenken and found nothing. I typed Maxine Leonard and found several references to her and the books that she and Larry published. I found that the Conger family already mourns the loss of it’s genealogical matriarch. And this photo of her with the Conger plate (photo at the funeral). "Still the Boss."

Three weeks ago she told me that she felt ashamed to pray to Heavenly Father for healing when so many had lost so much in Hurricane Katrina. So family wishes of memorials being sent to storm relief is so poignantly appropriate. "Still the Boss."

Maxine was always "the Boss." Whether it was writing and mailing a letter to every member of the US House and Senate this past spring telling them what was wrong with major government policy issues and how to fix them. She told them all to give up their last self-given pay raise and use that money to fund the notch baby social security problem. She knew it wouldn’t happen but "you get the government you deserve".

Engaging her in a logical debate on a subject soon showed you that for a woman in her mid 80’s her mind was sharper than most of ours every will be. If you were ever given one of your congressional letters to read. Or told to "sit down on the couch" and "asked to" listen to her read the letter you were always amazed at the clarity of thought and the subtle humor she used on the politicians. "Always the Boss."

Last year when her drivers license came due, she was worried about getting it renewed but needed it for when she would go to the dentist or optician. Medical doctor trips where not a concern. She had no high blood pressure, no diabetes, no aches or pains. She had asked the Lord for no pain with the severe rheumatoid arthritis she had and he had granted her prayer, so no pain pills or antibiotics. With the bones in her toes removed because of the arthritis she walked with a wobble. And this is what the license inspector saw and so required her to take a driving test. To a lot of us the inspector wanted to fail her "AN OLD LADY" and did for not signaling a turn 150 foot before an intersection. Maxine didn’t give up. Another week another driving test. Another here’s why I’m failing you this time. Another week another driving test. Another here’s why I’m failing you this time. Maxine could keep taking the test and wear her down or do the appeal process. The state of Iowa got the appeal letter with wording of "age discrimination." A different inspector was assigned and Maxine passed the driving test. "Always the Boss."

She had dearly hoped to see the new Latter-day Saint chapel being built here in Waverly and somehow attend church services there. She was so happy when people would take her there or show her pictures. The Church will be completed in January with an open house in the spring for all to see. When we go to the cemetery later the procession will past by the Church for her. "Still the Boss."

She had a great way of asking for a favor or an errand. Sometimes you really thought that you were volunteering instead of being told that you would do it. "Always the Boss."

Many of us can remember that cute little tilted head when she didn’t understand what we had just said. It wasn’t that she needed a hearing aid - we just need to speak up and be directly in front of her. So what did we do - Stand Straighter and Speak Louder. "Always the Boss."

She showed a deep respect and love for the freedoms of this great nation and a deep concern for it’s future. If you went to her apartment at night she was always watching the world news and commentaries. She would quiz you on your views and knowledge of the days events. She knew the names of the party leaders both the House and Senate, the voting history and names of the Supreme Court judges and many others. If you thought she was a Republican you where wrong. She could get just as mad at them as at the Democrats. She was the American we all should strive to be. And yes the TV was loud. "Still the Boss."

Maxine saw material needs at Bartels and quietly filled them with purchases. The big screen TV in the Eichorn House dining room is there because the old one didn't have close captioning and she thought the residents should have that. The Lord sent her some money in the mail that she didn’t think she was getting one day and so the TV happened. The fish aquarium in Linden Place is there so that the folks there can have something to look at. The TV in Woodland Terrance was given for the same reason. The flower lamps "where ever they are now here at Bartels" for the same reason - to help others to be more comfortable.

So to sum up Maxine’s performance appraisal I read from St Matthew in the King James Bible that she so loved. Mathew chapter 25: 15 - 21.

In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

[Note: Mrs. Leonard was the publisher of the two-volume, The Conger Family of America (often called "The CFA.") She was also the editor, publisher of the Conger Family newsletter, The Conger Confab. REH]

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