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April 7, 1931 - November 26, 2013
Cleo Lenz was 82 years old when she passed away on November 26, 2013.
Born to David and Lillian (Peggy) Lydiatt in Elwood, Nebraska on April 7, 1931, Cleo was the youngest of three girls. Her eldest sister was Elizabeth Mae (Betty) and the middle girl, Rosella. As daddy's little girl, Cleo went everywhere with her father. She had many fond memories of helping her father raise Springer Spaniels and tend his grocery store after school and on Saturdays.
Cleo started the first grade at the age of 5 and was able to complete the second grade before the family moved to Melba, Idaho in 1938. Full of ambition and intelligence, Cleo graduated high school early at the age of 16. Shortly afterward, she enrolled in nurses training at Boise's Saint Alphonsus Hospital. It was during this time Cleo met a tall, good looking farmer who would later become her husband.
Cleo Lydiatt met Don Lenz in 1948 at a dance held in the IOOF Hall in Melba. Over the next 18 months, their courtship continued to blossom to the jitterbug at the Riverside and Miramar dance halls. The two were married during a snowstorm on February 3, 1950.
Cleo loved being a farmer's wife. For the next 50 years, she helped keep the farm running, providing support as a devoted wife and a loving mother. She raised three girls on strong Christian values, always reinforcing the importance of family. Cleo organized the family and friend field crews, cooked for the masses, canned fall harvest to feed them through the winters, and in the midst of it all found time to sew the best Easter dresses. Cleo expressed her love through the food she made and the welcoming home she kept. Every person who walked through her door was greeted with warm food, friendly conversation, and lots of love.
The Cabin at Cascade, Idaho became a favorite Lenz family retreat. Cleo and the Sunshine Club turned it into a bustling place filled with cooking, bird watching, gardening, laughter, and the antics of women. Cleo shared the love of Cascade with her grandchildren every summer during the week long trips loaded with homemade biscuits & gravy and swimming down in the creek.
Donald and Cleo built their retirement home on the Melba farm. It was here they were able to enjoy time with grandchildren, gardening, and bird watching. Cleo spent her personal time reading and listening to music; her books went everywhere with her. With the encouragement of her granddaughter, Jen, Cleo combined her cooking skills and love of books to create a cookbook full of her recipes - each family member's favorite identified and shared.
Her life was full of love; Cleo and Don stood side-by-side for almost 62 years, role modeling love and devotion. Her basic values, built on the foundation of church and family, were passed on to her three girls: Debra Kaye, Peggy Ann, and Dawna Lee. She was friend, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother to many more than just her own.
Cleo is survived by her children Dawna and Roger Woodruff, Peggy and Carl Sturdy, Debra and Rex Runkle; her eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren (with another on the way). Cleo was preceded in death by her parents, sister Rosella, and husband Donald.
Memorial services will be held at Zion Lutheran Church at 2 p.m. on Monday, December 2, 2013. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Zion Christian School Library.
Thank you to the staff at Streamside Assisted Living for their love and care; to Dr. Brian Cothern and all the office staff for their support; and to all the family and friends who provided an overwhelming outpouring of love.
To share a memory of Cleo or to offer condolences to Cleo's family, please visit www.alsipfuneralchapel.com
I thought my mom's whole purpose was to be my mom. That's how she made me feel.
- Natasha Gregson Wagner
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be
I had a mother who read to me.
- Strickland Gillilan
Published in Idaho Press Tribune from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, 2013