January 1, 1931 – January 1, 2021
Leora Paulson Werner, age 90, of Overland Park, KS passed away on January 1, 2021. Visitation will be 10-11 am on Saturday, January 9th at First Baptist Church of Overland Park, 8200 W. 96th Street, Overland Park, KS. Funeral services will be 11 am on Saturday at the Church, followed by burial in Antioch Pioneer Cemetery, Merriam, KS.
Leora was born January 1, 1931 in Clay Center, KS. Even though Leora was born in a very small town, she was chagrined not to be the FIRST baby of the New Year. Some boy stole that honor from her.
She spent much of her childhood on her maternal grandfather's farm during the Great Depression with her mother, father, and brother Marvin. They had cousins nearby, the children of her mother's brother. Leora and her cousin Leona were about 3 months apart in age. Throughout their lives, the women remained very close and referred to each other as "sister cousins."
Leora would tell stories about the games she and her brother Marvin devised to entertain themselves, since farms were far apart and there weren't many other children to play with, besides their cousins. They usually involved creating little imaginary families.
Leora attended a one-room schoolhouse most of grade school. In fact, when she was in her early 60s, Leora talked to her oldest granddaughter's third-grade class about what it was like to go to a one-room schoolhouse. That presentation was quite a feat for Leora, as she leaned hard toward introversion and always seemed reserved to talk about herself, let alone in front of a group.
In high school, Leora played basketball. She excelled in her studies and was the class valedictorian. In fact, she was named the second smartest student in Clay County, Kansas, again – as when she was born – some boy stole top honors from her.
When Leora was about 8 years old, a friend of her brother's caught her eye. A handsome blond boy with glasses named Elden. She was mortified once when she was listening to Elden and Marvin talk about local girls and which ones they fancied. Elden asked Marvin, "and who does SHE like?" Marvin blurted out, "she likes YOU!" Leora would have to wait 6 years before she finally got to have her first date with Elden. To the end of her memory, Leora would say on that special day in December "this is the anniversary of our FIRST date!" They saw the movie "Weekend at the Waldorf" with Ginger Rogers and Van Johnson and had ice cream afterwards.
Three years later after she graduated from high school, Leora and Elden were married at her parents' home on a warm September day. Leora wore a beautiful blue beaded dress, and in their wedding pictures, they both look radiantly happy.
The following August, they welcomed their first son, David. A little over 2 years later, Allan came along, and 2.5 years after that, their first little girl, Rachael was born. Six years later, their fourth and last child, Donna, completed the family.
During high school, Leora worked as a telephone operator. After Leora and Elden moved to Kansas City from their small town of Clay Center, Leora supplemented their income with a job at Katz Drug Store. A few years later, she moved on to TG&Y Five and Dime Store in Mission, Kansas, where she spent the rest of her career. In both stores, she worked at the cash register. At TG&Y, she eventually was promoted to the office to do bookkeeping and payroll, a perfect fit with her keen mind for figures and accounting.
Leora worked weeknights for many years until her children were older. She worked every Saturday day for all the years she was at TG&Y, since that was their busiest day. This left Elden to fix dinner and care for the children in the evening. Thursdays were Leora's days off, and BOY was dinner a treat that night! She would often make a pie – butterscotch was one of her specialties. Once she made David a mulberry pie, after he picked all the mulberries himself! Sometimes she'd make a dump cake, but there was always dessert on Thursday! Sunday dinners after church were also a treat. Leora would usually make pan-fried chicken and mashed potatoes or pot roast with vegetables.
In fact, Leora was a working mom before there really was such a term. Yet she still tended to all of her kids' needs and took care of the house. She sewed clothes, attended her kids' sporting events, signed up all four children for swimming lessons, although by the time she got there after work, only the less desirable times – like the first cold week of June – were open. With her love of music, Leora made sure that each of her children picked an instrument and learned how to play, and she drove her children to weekly music lessons and other events.
Leora always made time for church, and many who knew her from church would remark on what a wonderful Bible scholar she was. She and Elden joined the First Baptist Church of Overland Park when they moved to the area in 1952. Leora attended a ladies' monthly circle group for fellowship and service. She served as the church treasurer. Later in life, she sang in the church choir. She attended holiday dinners and other events at the church, bringing her children and later her grandchildren and great grandchildren, as her guests.
Leora loved music and played the piano. In addition to hymns and gospel music, she enjoyed contemporary music, like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and even enjoyed some of the music she was introduced to through her children, like the Beatles.
What she really loved most was what she called "hillbilly" music and some of the classic country stars, like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Dolly Parton. Later in life when many of her other memories were fading, she could still sing along with those old songs word for word.
While Leora was a somewhat traditional mother of the 50s and 60s, she had a fun and playful side that sometimes surprised and amused her children. She loved the song "Charlie Brown" by the Coasters and would turn it up when it came on, bopping along to the beat. On snowy winter days, she'd take her teenage daughter and a friend to do donuts in a nearby empty parking lot, ensuring it was safe but still fun. On occasion, a cuss word would slip out. But it was so rare that you knew she meant business.
Leora enjoyed movies. One of her favorites was LA Confidential. She could watch that movie over and over and over. She sometimes picked the oddest or most uncharacteristic movies that she just HAD to see, like Seven or Fight Club with Brad Pitt (one of her favorite actors) or Fatal Attraction, something that would be extremely uncomfortable or even embarrassing to sit through with one of her adult children, although probably more for her child than for her.
Leora loved to read and write. She could have been a writer, but settled for writing "beautiful" letters, as many of her relatives said. She would lament later in life how letter writing was a lost art and no one took the time to send cards or letters, yet she still kept sending hers, even when they weren't reciprocated. That was something she looked forward to daily – the arrival of the postman – on the off chance there'd be a card or letter.
Leora also delighted in reading the paper daily and often firing off a letter to the editor if she saw something she felt she had to respond to. She was delighted when her letters were published and made sure to proudly show them to the family. Leora liked to read true crime books later in life, and she would eagerly await the latest book from Ann Rule, one of her favorite true-crime authors. She also loved watching and playing along with Jeopardy daily.
Leora loved spending time with her family. She kept in close touch with her many aunts in North Dakota. This was especially important to her, since she'd lost her own mother when she was only 20. She wrote to cousins, nieces and nephews, and their children. In fact, Leora would remember the birthdays of all the children in the family – or even people she just considered family – with a special card and a check.
After her husband's stroke in the late 1980s, Leora quit working and devoted herself to his care for the remainder of his life, since he could no longer drive or do many of the things he had done. They enjoyed those last years together, walking at the mall and going to lunch daily. They became regulars at many area restaurants and got to be friends with the servers.
Leora loved animals, and as her children grew up and moved out, she became the "adoptive mom" for many animals her children had gotten when a move prevented the animal from going along. She took in dogs and cats and cared for and loved them well to the end of their lives.
Leora was very generous in nature and had a huge heart! She helped out her kids and grandkids when they needed it and supported numerous charities. She loved caring for and spending time with her grandchildren and the role of being a grandma. When her children were grown, she spent many hours picking up grandchildren from school and taking them to various lessons and social events, just like she had with her own children. Many of her grandchildren's friends even called her grandma. When questioned about that – the moniker from people who were NOT her grandchildren – she'd respond "I'm grandma to EVERYONE!"
Leora appreciated a fine-looking man and generally favored them blond and with glasses, like her lifelong love, Elden. Even after she moved to a facility, she would sometimes admire an attractive man with a "hubba hubba" as he passed by, much to the amusement of the staff. Her caregivers loved her sassy attitude and snappy comebacks. She had a dry, sarcastic wit that surfaced only after you got to know her well.
Leora is preceded in death by her husband Elden Werner, her beloved parents, Vera Shadle Paulson and Peter Paulson, and her brother Marvin Paulson. She is survived by sons David Werner (Margie) and Allan Werner and daughters Rachael Snyder (Rod) and Donna Werner (Stan); grandchildren: Jolene DeMoss, Mark DeMoss, Jeremy Werner, Megan Snyder, Matt Engle, Maria Snyder, Patrick Snyder and Richard Snyder; and great-grandchildren: Allie Aber and Leland Huffman.
The family suggests contributions to the Alzheimer's Association in Leora's name. https://www.alz.org/
- Alzheimer's Association
Saturday, January 9, 2021
Saturday, January 9, 2021
Saturday, January 9, 2021
Faith (Lambert) Keller
January 11, 2021
I pray that Leora's loved ones will remember the fun times, the good times, and the many good influences that she instilled into their lives. Reading her obituary was delightful for me - I saw a side to the quiet Leora that I had not seen before - very fun! I still have one of Leora's letters, written in 1982 upon the occasion of our son's birth. Joel was born on 1/1/82, and Phil and I gave him the middle name of "Allan" after our mutual friend, Allan Werner. Leora wrote to congratulate us and to tell us what a special baby Joel was, indeed, to have her own birthday as well as her son's name!
Donna Van Goethem
January 9, 2021
Leora was nice, sweet and very humble. She has a lovely family.
January 7, 2021
Attended First Baptist since 1957, I think, but remember a quiet Leora who always said "hello". The one memory that stands out is one of her children or all of them had an anniversary party at someone's house and my husband Rick (deceased 3/20/20) and I attended. I believe Eldon was extra shy at that party as I remember but was a great party honoring their years together. I believe Leora took attendance records on Sunday morning for long time and I took over that job for a much shorter time. Condolences to her family. Marilyn Pence
January 5, 2021
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss of your Mother and my Aunt. Even though I didn't have the opportunity to be around her as I lived in California my parents always spoke of her fondly and SO enjoyed her letter writing. She always shared all the news of the family and all their activities. The letters were always upbeat and much appreciated in our home. We lived so far apart and her letters brought us together. I wish I had been able to know her better as this obituary paints a picture of a wonderful woman, wife, Mom, Grandmother, and Aunt. Hang onto ALL the Wonderful Memories. Love to all of you and prayers for your hearts to heal.