Leona Elizabeth Olga Taapa
07/29/1928 - 01/27/2020
We are lucky to have had almost 5 bonus decades with our beloved Leona. Having survived cancer that was supposed to take her life in 1971, Leona died peacefully at the age of 91, surrounded by family on January 27, 2020.
Leona was born at home to Mayme and August Korpela on their farm in Embarrass on July 29, 1928, the oldest daughter of 7 siblings. Growing up, she loved to read in the warmth behind the kitchen woodstove, and skate on the stream that ran just outside the door. Tending the sheep, cattle, chickens before school, though, was not her favorite thing, because even if she covered up, she thought everyone could smell the animals. The farm came in handy during the Depression, as Leona always said they never went hungry – her mom always cooked a fresh chicken on Sunday and made fresh bread on Saturday. Her dad died of rheumatic fever when she was young, but she always talked about how kind he was. Her mom was a strong lady, who continued to run the farm and raise the siblings, even divorcing her second husband when it wasn’t working out – something that took even more strength back then. Leona always had a strong sense that in life, family is most important, and she imparted this to her daughters and grandchildren.
She fell in love with a boy three years older than her, Einar Taapa. Einar remarked to his friend the first moment he saw her at a New Year’s Eve dance at Dee’s bar in Ely, that Leona was the girl he would marry. While Leona didn’t profess to love at first sight, it didn’t take long for her to follow suit, and they married in 1946 in Virginia. She and Einar got to the church just in time, having to rush back home for her shoes and wait for the train to go by. They loved spending time together, from driving on weekends to see Einar’s job sites, visiting family and friends for coffee, to even having dinner with actor Peter Fonda after a chance meeting on vacation in Hawaii in the 1970s.
Leona married young and didn’t go to her 12th grade of schooling but was determined to follow through and got her GED at the age of 50.
Leona and Einar loved to tell stories – even convincing some young grandchildren that her nickname was Grandma Two Ponies because that was what Grandpa had to pay for ransom to get her back from kidnappers.
In her younger years, she was quite the seamstress and showed her love by sewing clothes, quilts, and other things for family. She made a mean squeaky cheese from goat’s milk, and ubiquitous crusty wheat bread (which we were always glad to take an extra loaf home at the end of a visit).
In her older years, Leona was fortunate to be able to live at home in Embarrass, almost up to the end, with the help of her daughters. Candy, and often Leona’s grandson Kyle, visited daily, and Darcy and Dale came up on the weekends.
Leona is preceded in death by her parents, Mayme and August Korpela; her siblings, Edward, Emil, Harold, Ellen, Shirley, and infant Beverly; and her husband, Einar Taapa.
Leona is survived by her daughters, Darcy (Dale) Reed and Candy (Steve) Anderson; her grandchildren, Kristin (Philip) Parendo, Shawn (Julie) Reed, and Kyle Anderson; and her great grandchildren, Charlie and Henry Parendo, and Tyler (Nicki) Anderson.
Due to the coronavirus, a celebration of her life will be scheduled and announced in the future, to be held at Leona’s home.