Aug. 31, 2019 — Leona Mae Miller Walton passed away Aug. 23, 2019, in her home in Mapleton two days shy of her 94th birthday.
Born Aug. 25, 1925, in Brainerd, Minn., to Earl Miller and Mary Ringering Miller, she moved to Hadsall Creek at the age of four and continued to live on the same piece of property for over 90 years.
Leona went to school on the school boat in Mapleton — until World War II and Dwight Walton interrupted her life. Dwight was in the Navy at that time. His ship was torpedoed and, as it was being repaired in Bremerton, the crew was sent to San Diego, Calif., for shore duty.
He hitchhiked to Mapleton and talked her into getting married. They were wed in Springfield in January 1944. Leona left her senior year of high school in April and moved to San Diego, where Dwight had found housing. She immediately found a job as “Rosie the Riveter” working on bomb bay doors on B-24s and B-25s for Consolidated Aircraft.
When Dwight was re-stationed to Browns Field, Calif., further south, she could no longer commute to the job and had to quit. Their daughter Bobbi was born in San Diego during this time.
After Dwight’s discharge, they returned to live on Hadsall Creek, where they built their own home. Their son Greg was born four years after their return to Oregon. Leona continued to live in the same house until June 2019.
After she and Dwight divorced, she married Ernie Grand, Walter Beers and Manuel (Tim) Basham.
At the age of 81, she and Tim drove to his summer home in Alaska towing a travel trailer carrying her cat, Benny, and her dog, Perry. She was very homesick as she had never been ‘off the creek’ for any length of time since returning after WWII.
Leona loved her God (lifelong member of the SDA Church), her family, her animals, and to cook for anyone who entered her home. She loved working at McKnight Veterinary Clinic for over 25 years.
Leona gardened, canned and knew more ways to use plastic butter dishes and plastic jugs than anyone else on Earth. She shot bears in her yard with a single shot shotgun when they molested her apples and raspberries and shot rats in the chicken house with a .22 pistol.
She hated spiders and loved her grandkids and all the extra “grandkids” who came to play rummy, eat toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup with her.
Nothing was ever terrible — it was TERRRRIble; nothing was ever awful — it was AWWWWful; and nothing was ever beautiful — it was BE-UUUUU-TI-ful.
As her health began to fail, she moved to Greg’s and Connie’s property where hospice was provided by family (especially three of her grandsons and their wives) and friends until her passing.
She is survived by daughter Bobbi Sue (Oley) Nelson, and son Greg (Connie) Walton; grandchildren: Les (DeeAnn) Nelson, Eric (Kim) Nelson, Debi (Jason) Free, Jeff (Kati) Walton, and Mike (Amber) Walton; and 11 great-grandkids whom she greatly loved: Kara, Sean, Haley, Megan, Zach, Sarah, Lindsay, Christopher, Kjerste, Dane and Kendall.
Leona was buried beside her parents at the Mapleton Cemetery on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
A memorial service will be held for her on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 1:30 p.m. at the Florence SDA Church, 4445 Highway 101.
A potluck will follow the service.
Burns’s Riverside Chapel Florence Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.