This Blog focuses on Ancestor Stories, both the stories themselves about my family’s ancestors and discussions of where they come from and how to prepare and share them. These stories may be non-fiction or fiction – we will always tell which is which, of course. Also see my KINNICK blog and The HOMEPLACE Series Blog, left sidebar, scroll down.
I was very pleased to be able to attend the Celebration of Life of my Uncle Leo, my Mom's older brother, last weekend, in Pella, Iowa. He had a very full life. He and Ida were married for 77 years. Today is our 57th Anniversary... just 20 years to go to match their outstanding experience!
Leo Millard Kinnick, age 99, passed away peacefully from natural causes on Monday, July 25, 2016, at Jefferson Place in Pella, Iowa. He was born in Coon Rapids, Iowa, to parents Paul and Dorothy (Sorensen) Kinnick on March 21, 1917, as the oldest of their 3 children: Leo, Eileen, and August Edward (Buzz). As a high school student in Coon Rapids, he was an avid football player and sang in many vocal ensembles, activities that he continued to enjoy throughout his life. During these high school years, he would just happen to leave his house after lunch, at the same time Ida Marie Bell was walking back from her lunch with friends, conveniently offering to carry her books. And thus a lifelong love story began which lasted 77 years. Even with these distractions, he still managed to graduate as salutatorian of his class. After high school, Leo attended and graduated from Capital City Commercial College in Des Moines. When first married, Leo worked on the 80 acre family farm in Coon Rapids (no electricity, no running water, a hand crank phone, and field work done with horses and mules), but shortly thereafter he and Ida Marie moved to Rolfe, Iowa, where they helped Ida Marie’s father run his dairy farm of 45-50 milk cows. Their first daughter Karen was born on the Rolfe farm. A year and a half later they moved back to Coon Rapids where they opened a small café and lived on the floor above it. They sold hamburgers for 5 cents, and Karen entertained customers with song and dance, standing on the counter top. A short time later, Leo’s dad Paul, a banker in Coon Rapids, told Leo about a bank job opening in Lohrville, Iowa, and encouraged Leo to apply. In 1940, Leo moved his young family to Lohrville, to be paid $80.00 a month in the new job. He became active in the community, and was the cashier of the bank for roughly 30 years. Daughter Kathleen, son Kelton, and daughter Karla were all born in nearby Lake City. When all the children were on their own, Leo took a job in a Fort Dodge bank for a short time, and then moved to Lenox, Iowa, serving in their bank until he retired in 1983. After “snow-birding” in Tucson, Arizona, a couple years, they moved to Tucson where they cherished the warm weather for about 20 years, and could watch their two youngest granddaughters grow up. In 2007 they moved back to Pella, Iowa, to be closer to more members on both sides of the family. Music, sports and dance were always Leo’s biggest interests, and he saw that his children took part in those as much as they could. Gifted with a fine natural tenor voice himself, he sang in church choirs for many years, soloed for many special occasions, but he also sang in the Calhoun County Chorus, the Fort Dodge Glee Club, the Creston Glee Club, the Tucson Barbershop Chorus, and numerous barbershop quartets along the way. He loved Guy Lombardo, Lawrence Welk, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, as well as many university choral groups, and even opera as sung by his youngest granddaughter. Leo attended dozens, if not hundreds, of dance recitals through the years, and one of his most recent TV favorites was “Dancing with the Stars”. He enjoyed seeing his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren experiencing the same joy in music, sports and dance that he did. It was Leo’s love of football that made him the “neighborhood dad” throughout the 1950s. There were many summer and fall evenings when the neighborhood kids would gather to have Leo tell them to “go long” and he would hit them with nice soft passes. And the faces would be so attentive when he explained “how he did it when he played for the Chicago Bears”. It took many years before both family and friends realized that the Chicago Bears were just a passion, and that he really hadn’t played for them. But nevertheless, the story has flourished and been passed through several generations. Leo served as a school board member of the Lohrville Community School, was a Boy Scouts leader, treasurer of the city of Lohrville for 25 years, a member of the Iowa Bankers Association and treasurer of the Salvation Army. Besides his parents, Leo was preceded in death by the love of his life, Ida Marie (Bell) Kinnick, his sister Eileen Smith (Olson), and son-in-law Richard Henak. He is survived by his children Karen Henak, Kathleen (Kathi) Lucas, Kelton, and Karla, son-in-law Ken Lucas, brother Buzz, sister-in-law June Patrick, six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Mr. and Mrs. A.P. Kinnick celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary Wednesday, July 6. They issued invitations to many friends to enjoy the occasion with them and it was an enjoyable occasion. Mr. and Mrs. Kinnick are very sociable people. They enjoy their friends and their friends enjoy them. The party was comprised of about 50 guests, many being relatives, and the good eats served fairly made the tables groan. The happy couple now as then were married at Coon Rapids, and their first home was in a small dwelling which occupied the lot now occupied by the home of The Enterprise family. They have prospered well and are to be congratulated upon their long and happy wedded life and excellent family of children.
Mrs. Phelps and 14 students at Willow # 3 - final year Next fall, half went to Scranton, half went to Coon Rapids to school
Thursday, Dec 20:
… Made burnt sugar cake to take to school. Got coffee maker from the church. Real blizzardy.
Finished bath room at 1:00. Pete wasn’t here for dinner. Gave Tom a nap. Gave boys baths, ate, went to school program. Pete had to put on chains, to get there. Terribly cold & snowy. Cute program.
Tom kept saying he was hungry. Bill was Santa. Tom knew him. Jim said, “Do Not Open Until Christmas.” Bill was dressed like a lady in one play. Wilson was good as a lady. Nice lunch. All kids went together & got housecoat & gloves for teacher.
Always interesting what was important to Mom as she wrote her diary entry each day.
Note: This concludes this series of posts from Mom’s diaries. Have a great summer! ;-)
My daughter, Annette, in 1965, with the Lionel… just part of it...
Monday, Dec 17:
Got up at 6:30. Boys up early too. Went to Des Moines at 9:30. Snowing. Hard to drive against at times. Ate at Bishop’s. Got Bill red hat & gloves & Jim gloves. Got Lionel, flex. flyer, music box, Christmas gifts. Picked out rubber tile at Chader’s. Really snowy & cold. Lots of traffic when we left. Got groc. at big super market. Jim slept till we got to Mom’s. Roads were fine. Got Tom & came home & made hamburgers. Did dishes, went to bed early.
Big day in my life, for sure. Mom and Dad really went to pick out the rubber tile, of course, for the Porch. They were VERY nice… but the train set was my big Christmas gift. At 12 1/2 years old, that was pretty big deal. After Christmas, a half dozen families around the neighborhood came to see the train, per later diary entries!! Big deal for them, as well, it seemed. P.S. I still have the complete train, of course, get it out every few years! Still works well! ;-)
Eating at Bishop’s Cafeteria at Merle Hay Mall was part of the “going to Des Moines” ritual. Liked the “big super market” comment!
Cloudy and a little rain. Got boys off to school. Jimmy play “Old Gray Mare” and Billy play “Melody in F.” Cleaned back porch & kitchen cupboards. Pete up to Hachmeisters re: school reorganization. Ate fish & salad & then he went to see Honald & Smith. Put Tom to bed & listened to T.V. Kate Smith. Called Mom to have them come & stay with boy - S.S. party. Made scalloped potatoes. Jack Bow came to have Pete pick corn but he was gone. Toots called to see about going to D.M. tomorrow.
First specific note regarding School Reorganization - would cause country schools to close and all go to Coon Rapids to all school grades. A year away.
Think the tunes mentioned were what Jim and I had learned at our piano lessons.
Noticed how she still says ‘listened’ to T.V. - not watched television. Carry over from radio!! But, after this date… started saying ‘watched’ - fun to read diary! ;-) Also, earlier note of watching football game on Sunday. Then, I later watching “Ames Football Game” on a Saturday afternoon.
Also, a mention of “looking at things for porch” suggests they were thinking about the new “Porch” - family room to replace old porch. Major addition to the house!! ;-) P.S. November 15 - Henry Johnson came to start foundation of porch! ;-)
Drove across Nebraska, stayed at Wahoo the first night in a motel. New experience for family. Then, into Wyoming and spent time with Mom’s great uncle Ira and family a couple of days. Then into Colorado, to Estes Park and stayed in nice cabin.
Wednesday, August 15:
Got up early & drove to Y.M.C. A. camp, made reserve. at Idaho Sprgs for tonight thru Chamber of Commerce. Tommy & Jim rode on little train again. Up trail ridge road. Really a never to be forgotten thrill. Looked down for thousands of feet. Climbed up to snow - nearly wore us out. Altitude really leaves you short winded. Picked wild flowers & got snow balls. Really chilly but sun hot. Seemed so funny. Didn’t realize it would take so long. Good road, but you don’t make much time. Down Bertroud Pass just as rugged or more so as Trail Ridge Road. Saw Bear Lake & Grand Lake. Pretty. Finally got to Idaho Sprigs. at 5:15. She had kept our cottage. Long narrow town between mtns.
Mom did write this kind of detail for every day of the trip. Quite an experience. I clearly remember bits and pieces. Wondered when it was… now we know!
At end of trip: “Really wonderful to be home. Thats the best part of the trip. … Nice to see T.V. again. Hadn’t seen ir for a week and a day.” And, the next day… “Drove out to see the crops. Really looked good. Small corn tasseling. Even weeds look good.”
She had not been impressed with barren grounds and no crops, in western Nebr and Wyo.! Very interesting to relive the trip with her words!!! ;-)a