Leona Stachura, of Mesa, AZ passed away June 1, 2019, with her family by her side. She was 97!
She was born to the late Marie and Jan Chylek, October 11, 1921, in Skrecon, Czechoslovakia. Growing up as an “only” child to parents who believed education and culture were an intricate part of life, Leona’s home was filled with books, art and classical music. She graduated from high school and attended college to be a teacher, till the war broke out. Leona spoke 4 languages and had the most delightful accent when she spoke English.
Leona escaped from Czechoslovakia with her fiance Josef Stachura and later married in Vienna in 1951. After living in Vienna for almost 3 years they emigrated to Montreal, Canada where their first daughter Karen Lockhart was born. After two years they were granted permission to emigrate to the United States of America and settled in Chicago, Il, where their 2nd daughter Michelle Dermody was born. Then 21 days later they moved to Bellevue, Iowa where a Czechoslovakian friend they met gave Josef a job at Monitor factory.
They lived in Mont Rest and a year later purchased Springside property in Bellevue and started a pillow factory out of the old barn that stood behind the spectacular house built in 1848, which sat on 40 acres of forest, overlooking the Mississippi River. Leona started a Bed and Breakfast in the late 80s and met so many wonderful people that she, to this day, still kept in touch with. Her excellent cooking and European pastry baking of kolaches and tortes, with her famous coffee with whipped cream, was the highlight for people and friends visiting on a daily basis. She was one of the best story tellers when it came to their escapades during their escape and coming to American. Her listeners were captivated with every story she recalled in amazing detail.
In 1978 Ryan Josef Dermody was born to Michelle and the following year Timothy Daniel Gilloon was born to Karen. She loved her grandsons and made sure they did everything “properly” when they were at their Babi and Papa’s home. She was a wonderful wife, the most loving and best mother in the world and a thoughtful, protective, loving and fun grandmother (Babi, in Czechoslovakian). She is survived by 5 beautiful great grandchildren.
In 1990 the entire family moved to Gilbert, Arizona and so started another place for Leona to make new friends and tell her fascinating stories that she so enjoyed to revisit. In 1993 Josef passed away at the age of 84. Leona made some very special friends and especially one, Kenneth Einig, also from Vienna, who was her constant companion. They traveled extensively to Europe and went on cruises, till he passed in 2013. He called her his “Love”.
At the age of 88, Leona started painting with Karen’s persuasion. She was remarkably talented and has many beautiful pictures she displayed and sold. It’s not surprising that at the age of 88 Leona would be embarking on a new hobby other than her love of reading books. Her zest for life and exceptionalism was so incredible, till the day she passed away. She will be forever missed by so many who loved her so.
There will be a Celebration of Life planned for later this year.
One dear friend of Leona’s always says, “You haven’t lived life, until you’ve met Leona!”