Monday, January 12, 2015
Wadena United Church
Mary Leone was born on the family farm east of Viceroy, Sask. on December 11, 1922. She was the oldest of two children born to Colin and Clara Macfarlane who were overjoyed to finally have a family. Although times were tough during the Depression there was never a lack of love, joy and support. As a young child Mom had a Shetland pony named Betty and her brother Don had a St. Bernard, both of which she loved dearly. This was the beginning of her life-long love of animals. Leone and Don walked down the hill to Springmount school where Mom soon developed her love of learning which set her on her life's path. Leone was the older responsible sister and she and Don were very close, visiting just the very day before her passing.
Leone left home after Grade 10 to board in Viceroy in order to earn her Grade 12 diploma. Her parents brought in eggs, meat, bread and butter to sell and Leone did cleaning, washing and ironing before and after school to help pay for her room and board. If there was one thing that defined her life it was her sense of duty. As her parents sacrificed for her education she in turn gave back tenfold to them, and to her family, her career and her community.
Leone attended Normal School in Moose Jaw. She learned self-discipline. The rules of conduct were very strict and students could be expelled for inappropriate behaviour, such as not dressing modest enough or attending a dance at the air base in Moose Jaw. She started her teaching career in a one-room school where she arrived early to light the stove and stayed late to perform janitorial duties. In between she tried to educate 10 grades of students, some older and bigger than she was. This was where she honed her amazing ability to control a classroom; she was always strict but always fair.
While teaching in Tuxford, she met and fell madly in love with a young airman who had returned home. The only problem was she was already engaged. She promptly broke off the engagement and after an appropriate amount of time began dating Dad (Bill) and they were married on August 6, 1947. To this union two daughters, Bonnie and Pam were born.
Mom was proud of her daughters and never hesitated to tell us that. But if we did something wrong she would say, "I didn't raise you girls that way." We would tease her and say, "Well, someone did."
We remember as children all the extracurricular activities she took on coaching softball, volleyball, taking many plays to provincial drama competitions, organizing graduation and being the guidance counsellor. The classes she taught required lots of marking and that was often her task at the dining room table well into the evening. When she had us tucked into bed she would start on her own homework because there was seldom a time when she was not at school herself. After many years of getting her education the hard way, one class at a time, she took a leave and attended the University of Regina where she obtained her B.A. and B.Ed., receiving both with Distinction. She was one of the first accredited teachers in the Division. It was a proud moment in her life was when she was recruited and hired by the Department of Education to work in nine school divisions to teach and provide support to English teachers when a new curriculum was introduced. This she did for two years, travelling all over northeastern Saskatchewan making new friends and using her years of accumulated wisdom to help better them as teachers.
Lest you think that teaching was her whole life, she was always highly involved in the life of her family. A ball player herself, she also attended many tournaments to watch Dad play ball, supported and encouraged all the hunting trips, and prepared wild meat proudly for family and friends. She held executive positions in every organization in which her children were involved, was a Girl Guides leader and Sunday school teacher. She also sang in the church choir, sat on town council, was involved in the Horticulture Society, was a founding member of the Quill Plains Arts Council and was a member of the Provincial Arts Board.
Leone was very involved in the lives of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was close to granddaughters Erin and Meaghan and was interested in everything they did. She was very involved with her great-grandchildren. She was always available to babysit and a day didn't go by without asking Courtney and Haley how school was going. She was always willing to helping with piano practice or there to watch a dance recital. Many hours were spent watching Austin's ball games but most of all she enjoyed going to the local rink to watch him play hockey. She was the first one to tell him that school isn't for everyone and to make sure you do something you love.
Leone loved Wadena and her life here and made many good friends who were lifelong friends. Every once in a while in the privacy of her own home and with those close friends, she would almost let her hair down - just a little. But she was always a teacher and she was always a lady.
Leone was predeceased by her husband Bill on January 1, 2015; parents, Colin and Clara; and step-father Russ.
She leaves to mourn her loss her two loving daughters, Bonnie and Pamela; two granddaughters, Erin (Shawn) and Meaghan (Robby); three great-grandchildren, Austin, Courtney and Haley; and two great-granddogs, Holly and Karma; brother Don (Shirley), Maria, Trish and their families.
Leone touched and changed many lives.