Leona Rachel "Lee" (Aden) Greenley (1915 - 2016)

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    - Charles and Carolyn Frye
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INDEPENDENCE – Leona passed away peacefully with her family by her side on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at the BCHC Lexington Estates under the care of their devoted staff. "Lee", as she was known to family and friends, was born on the family farm in Palmer, Iowa to Rachel Schon Aden and Edward Aden on Aug. 12, 1915. It was there that she developed her love of gardening, cooking and reading, skills that she carried into the rest of her life. Learning, however, was her greatest passion, and from the day she started school, she decided that she wanted to grow up to be a teacher. Pretty wild thinking for a little farm girl in the 1920s But her loving father believed in her, knew she could do it and sold cattle to pay the tuition to make her dream come true. After graduating from high school with a class of 20 in Pomeroy, Iowa, she started off on her grand adventure to the Iowa State Teachers College (now UNI) in Cedar Falls where she excelled. While there, her roommate was a young woman named Edna Greenley with whom she became the best of friends. Because Lee's family lived so far away, Edna invited Lee to join her family in Independence for holidays and weekend trips home. The Greenley family was always very welcoming to her, especially one of Edna's brothers, Oliver.
Lee earned her teaching certificate in 1933 and at just 18 years old, she became a "scared country school TEACHER at Bellvue #5!" in western Iowa where she continued to teach for 3 years making $50 a month. She saved enough money to return to the ISTC to advance her education which she did. Edna's brother, Oliver, had made many "coincidental" stops during his grain hauling trips through western Iowa during her teaching days and on Valentine's Day, 1937, he proposed. It took her until August to make what she considered the hardest and best decision she ever made because marrying would mean she could no longer legally teach. Lee and Oliver M. Greenley were married on June 17, 1938 at her family home, honeymooned in the Black Hills and made their home in Independence, Iowa. The couple had three sons: LeRoy, James and Donald, Lee's lifetime pride and joy. As the boys grew, Oliver worked hard at expanding his businesses and Lee committed herself to her three priorities; family, faith and community.
Lee used her teaching skills throughout her life with her children and grandchildren, and in service to her community through countless efforts especially in the First United Methodist Church, the Wapsipinicon Mill restoration, Boy Scouts, the Buchanan County Health Center, P.E.O., Ladies' Literary and the American Field Service. Through the A.F.S., they hosted a young Indonesian boy, Sjurky Suaidy in their home in 1963 for his senior year of high school. Sjurky, and his family, became an integral part of theirs until his death in 2003 shortly after a return to Independence for his 50th class reunion.
Throughout their married life, Oliver and Lee opened their home and hearts to their beloved families, everyone else they knew and many they didn't, but who had common interests. Both had many and varied interests, always wanting to learn more, to do more. After their sons had graduated from high school, they began to travel, first at the request of Governor Branstad as representatives in his People to People initiative where they would travel to other countries as Iowa ambassadors to teach and to learn from other cultures regarding agricultural practices. Lee would say, "Two little farm kids. Oh, I was so unsure, but Oliver was so excited!" and off they went. They ended up travelling the world, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and thanking God every day for the blessings of each other, their children and the world in which they could live in freedom.
As Oliver's businesses grew, they were able to become philanthropists to causes in which they believed within in their community and beyond. The historical Wapsipinicon Mill was their gift to the city to enhance tourism dollars and save the beautiful old mill. It also gave Lee great joy to be able to expand the large-print book inventory at the Independence Library so that she, and others who shared her plight, would not be denied the thrill of a new book as their eyesight began to fail. Going to the library every week, with 5 or 6 books in her bag and seeing her favorite girls, Vonnie, Laura and Amy, was one of her great joys, especially in her later years. The positive role models they exuded to us all will never be forgotten because they tried every day to continue the work ethics learned from their parents. The deep faith that was their foundation and the love they had for each other was evident in all they did.
During her life, Lee suffered two of the greatest loses of anyone's life; the death of her beloved husband, Oliver, and her son, James. Devastated, she"sallied forth" as her dear friend, Mollie would say, drew her strength from her deep and abiding faith, and led the rest of her family in going forward with strength and sure footing even when her own was shaky. For the next 31 years, she carried on alone, but always with grace, charity and love. Her family and friends will never forget this amazing woman who lived 100 full, loving, giving years and who opened her arms and her heart to the hundreds of people who helped her celebrate that day. Hopefully, she'll live on in all of us as we try to be like her, try to be our best. We know today that she is resting in heavenly peace, but she is sorely, sorely missed by those with whom she shared her life and love.
Preceding Lee in death were her husband, Oliver; son, James; father; mother; stepmother; brothers: Glenn and Robert Aden; and her dearest friend and sister, Berniece Brager.
Leona is survived by her two sons: LeRoy (Colette) and Donald (Patricia); daughter- in-law, Dianne; grandchildren Kevin (Mary), Kyle (Rachel), Noelle Dobson (Fred), Luke Stone (Kassi), David Greenley (Bree) and Sarah Wheeler (Nicholas); AFS grandson Charles Achoa (Valeria); ten great-grandchildren; sister, Arlene Brummel along with many precious in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews.
White's Funeral Home, located at 400 1st Street West in Independence is in charge of arrangements and visitation will be held at their Funeral Home on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016 from 4 to 7 p.m. A brief P.E.O. service will be at the start of the visitation (4 p.m.). Leona's funeral service will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 10:30 a.m. in the First United Methodist Church at 313 2nd Street SE in Independence with a luncheon to follow. Burial will be in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Independence.
Memorials may be directed to the First United Methodist Church or the Independence Public Library Foundation, 805 First Street East, Independence, IA 50644.
Funeral Home
White Funeral Home
400 First Street West
Independence, IA 50644
(319) 334-2595
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Published in Independence Bulletin-Journal from Jan. 7 to Jan. 20, 2016
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