Mae Delle Cessna Leino
Mae Delle Leino, our mom, transitioned from these worldly bounds on July 15th. She was born Mae Delle Cessna, on November 12th, 1920, in the little town of Sacramento, Kentucky, and led a wonderful, inspirational life of nearly 94 years. For 64 of those years, Mae Delle graced the family home in Sacramento, California, where she raised her two sons with husband Edward. Always vibrant and active, she lived independently at home until her passing. Mom's earthly form was laid to rest next to Dad's at East Lawn South in Elk Grove.
The second of four children, Mae Delle was the daughter of Lillian Mae and Edgar Earl Cessna. In hopes of creating a better life, the family moved from the Kentucky hills to Taft, California in 1921 where Grandpa found steady work in the oil fields. In 1927, following their dad's dream of becoming a farmer, the family moved north to the small community of Laton, in Central California. Along with farming, Edgar became greens keeper at the local golf club, working night and day. In the 1940's the Cessna Dairy was founded and operated for nearly 20 years, providing the best milk for the community. Mom often recalled with great pride being raised on a farm during The Great Depression, with her three siblings, by her extremely hard-working and loving parents. So many of Mom's qualities were inherited from our dear Grandma and Grandpa Cessna.
Mae Delle attended the local Laton Elementary and High Schools, where she served as president of student clubs and acted in theatrical presentations. Not surprisingly, she was voted the prettiest girl in her school, and was ever-popular with her classmates. Mom said that English was her favorite subject, and, indeed, she was an eloquent speaker and writer, with beautiful penmanship. She studied classical piano, and accompanied services at the local church. After graduation, Mom took classes at Fresno Teacher College (now known as Fresno State), commuting with friends from Laton. As a young lady, she loved dancing to the sounds of popular touring big bands in nearby Hanford, or watching serials at the movie theater. Against the backdrop of World War II, Mom also became citizen spotter, watching the sky for potential enemy aircraft, and was selected as a USO Bond Queen for her efforts in promoting war bond sales.
After her college days, Mom was offered a position at the Laton Bank, where she worked as a teller and the president's secretary. Her banking experience led to a position in Hanford at the Bank of America, where she met fellow Bank employee and future husband, Edward Lawrence Leino. In 1946, Mom and Dad were married in the Sierras, at Gardnerville, Nevada, and honeymooned at Lake Tahoe. The Leinos made their first home in Visalia, where their son, William Alan Leino, was born in 1947. The family moved to Sacramento in 1949 when Dad earned a promotion within the Bank of America, and Mom and Dad soon built a beautiful new home built in which they'd raise their family. Their second son, Bruce Edward, was born in 1954.
As a mother for two her sons, a dedicated wife to a career banker-World War II veteran, and a caring homemaker, Mom did it all, and then more. She was our Cub Scout Den Mother, active in the PTA and school fundraisers, student of New Math, an editor and typist of term papers and assignments of all subject matter, from our elementary years through college, our doctor and nurse, family psychologist and attitudinal backbone, a bastion of consistency, wisdom and love through both the good and challenging times, a chef extraordinaire who promoted full and happy stomachs, a regular donor to charities, a nurturing gardener for her roses, hydrangeas, camellias, rhododendrons, and backyard abundant with tall trees, and an enthusiastic camper and traveler.
Mom became an avid watercolorist in the 70's, and was a founding member of Watercolor Artists of Sacramento Horizons (W.A.S.H.), an organization based out of the Sacramento Fine Arts Center. She served as an effective W.A.SH. president from 1990 to 1991, and as hospitality director and docent par excellence for many years. Mom studied with some of the finest watercolorists in the United States, joining colleagues and teachers on scenic paintouts throughout Northern California. Her works earned awards at juried shows, and were often on display at the Fine Arts Center.
Mom's travels took over overseas to Europe on a splendid, non-stop tour through England, France and Italy. She experienced American history and beauty on a Fall Colors trip to the East coast. Mom took a van trip with her friends to Four Corners, where she soaked up the beauty of the Southwestern desert. She painted with her fellow artists on the awe-inspiring California Coast. With Grandma Cessna (who could not bring herself to fly in the "big silver bird"), Mom traveled a few times all the way back to her original Kentucky home to visit our relatives, by way of Greyhound bus! Mom and Dad ventured into Mexico with their station wagon and travel trailer, and enjoyed pro golf tournaments in Palm Springs.
Over many summers, the Leinos set up camp with their trailer in the High Sierras on a ranch owned by long-time family friends, a perfect fit for Mom's love of flora and fauna, and her outdoorsman husband, who was an Eagle Scout. She often went for a long walk amidst the pines with her Brittany spaniel, Rowdy. Mom and the family returned to the same Wrights Lake area on a regular basis, with Mom serving as an essential director for our camping trips. Mom was ever-a-fixture and a trooper on numerous, long family road excursions all over the west, through National Parks and beautiful landscapes, often visiting our relatives and friends along the way.
Mom loved to shop for just the right gift, and we were always spoiled at Christmas, birthdays, and just about any occasion. We shared precious memories of get-togethers with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for Thanksgiving, featuring the word's greatest pies, at Grandma and Grandpa's and our aunt and uncle's homes. With her love of life and family, it seemed like a celebration just being around her!
She stood behind a young son who wanted to be a rock and roll musician, and smiled through his bands' practices in the garage. She was a concerned and supportive mother for a soldier who had returned from the Vietnam conflict. She was our mom through the automotive work, Dad's furniture building, go-kart racing, mini-bikes, slot cars and every sort of project in the garage. When the boys started their own families, Mom was integral to her cherished grankids' upbringing, and was always there for us when called on for babysitting duty, or any help needed for the young parents. An encyclopedia-length volume would just scratch the surface of what Mom did for us.
Mom's gifts were that of an artistic life, a kind and gentle spirit, an unwavering, positive presence, and a real lady with natural charm. She was always fashionable, a great dresser, ever-dignified, a class-act. She was a reader of art journals, followed the latest research developments in wellness periodicals, read The Bee daily, and belonged to Smithsonian and Kingsley Art associations for many years. We cannot fail to mention Mom's dedication to her teams, the S.F. Giants and Sacramento Kings!
Having lived through The Depression, major world conflicts, and great cultural and technological changes, Mom had that awareness cultivated by historical perspective. She had that sense of what was right and wrong in our world, but she kept an open mind, willing to entertain new and better ideas. Mom would welcome conversation with almost anyone, and typically encouraged the interaction toward the sunny side of life. I can hear Mom laughing when something tickled her. Her positive spin and laughter came easily, and will always resonate within us.
Mom knew and lived what was important ... taking great care of family, herself and her community.
Mom's transition was preceded by her mother and father, Lillian Mae and Edgar Earl Cessna, husband Edward, son Bill Leino, brothers Eddie and Robert Cessna, and brother-in-law Frank Devin.
Mom is survived by her sister Phyllis Devin, sister-in-law Carol Cessna, son Bruce Leino, daughters-in-law Teri Leino and Lynn Leino, grandchildren Bryan Leino, Amy Leino and fiancé Alex Moyle, Don Leino and Robin Leino, granddaughter-in-law Ebony Leino, great-grandson Bryce Leino, nieces Cheryl Cessna, Marta Kirkley and Carol Notares, nephews Ric Cessna and Art Leino, nephew-in-law Mike Kirkley, great nephews Christopher Cessna, Kyle Castillo and Ian Kirkley, great-nieces Caitlyn Kirkley and Kelsey Castillo, step-grandson Aaron Medina and his wife, Amy Medina, step-granddaughter-in-law Andrea Medina, step-great grandchildren McKenzie Medina, Tanner Medina, Mason Medina, Chyan Geilfuss, Shelby Geilfuss, Cole Geilfuss, extended family and dear friends.
Mom, we love you, forever. We go with you, and you go with us.
A celebration for Mae Delle, our mom, will be announced soon. For more info, friends can contact a family member directly, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on Mom's home phone.
Published in The Sacramento Bee on Aug. 24, 2014