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Leona Gardner Birch ("Muffet"), wife of Gene Birch, died early Thursday morning, March 21, following a lengthy illness.
Leona was born on April 8, 1925 in Teton, Idaho, the eighth of 12 children born to Teton native Thomas Gardner and his wife Marie Neibaur. Life in a farming community in those days was not easy, and like her siblings, she was no stranger to hard work. Music and singing were a big part of every Gardner family get-together, and Muffet could often be seen dancing as she went about her chores.
She married Gene Earl Birch of St. Anthony on Nov. 27, 1943, and kept the home fires burning in Teton and St. Anthony until her soldier husband returned from the war. The couple later moved to Ammon, Idaho, where they lived for over 50 years, and where they celebrated their 69th anniversary last November.
Leona is survived by her husband, Gene Birch, and their children, Vickie and Don Crow, of Teton; Sandra Birch, of Salt Lake City, Utah; Thomas Bruce and Kathy Birch, of Springville, Utah; Michelle and Elias De la Cruz, of West Jordan, Utah; and Leda and Dan Chavez, of Sandy, Utah. She has 16 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren, the youngest of whom was surely waiting to greet her on the other side. Of her large family of origin, only three siblings are left to mourn, Anthony "Dip" and Crystal Gardner, of St. Anthony; Dean and Vena Gardner, of Quincy, Washington; and Carol Johnson, of Idaho Falls.
Her family was the focal point of her life, but her "family" extends far beyond her home: her favorite hobby was collecting people whom she loved as her own. In her last years, some of these "adopted" children have been a source of tremendous joy to her. You have our heartfelt thanks.
Funeral services will be held Monday, March 25, at 11 a.m. in the Ammon 1st Ward building at 3000 Central Avenue in Idaho Falls. Friends may call at the Bidwell Funeral Home Sunday, March 24 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and at the church in Idaho Falls on Monday one hour prior to the services. Burial will be in the Teton-Newdale Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to www.bidwellfuneralhome.com.
Published in Rexburg Standard Journal on Mar. 23, 2013