Leona Carrie Mason Heitsch was born on January 6, 1931 to Russell Mason and Margaret Arnold Mason and passed away on December 30, 2019 at the age of 88 years, 11 months and 24 days.
She attended a one room school in Walnut Lake and was recommended to attend University of Michigan, where she graduated (first in her family) with a BS in Chemistry.
She traveled to Montery, California where she married classmate Charlie, avoiding a previously arranged employment at White Sands.
Leona assisted Charles in his Russian Studies and supported him in his service during the Korean war.
Their fourth child born with deafness and autism well before the public schools were required to serve all children with disabilities. Charles and Leona refused to institutionalize their son, but continued with private payment for diagnosis and education and multiple family relocation needed to maximize their son’s ability (see Leona’s book “Toward Wanting More”‘).
In Wilmington, Delaware, she demonstrated her support of Equal Rights by caring for marchers children, sewing clothing for impoverished children of the south and letter writing.
Forced to move to St. Louis, Missouri to access education for her non-verbal nine year old child, Leona continued her letter writing, poetry, gardening, tutoring of deaf and autistic son and child raising - while serving the greater St. Louis school for the deaf as a secretary and teachers assistant.
In later years, retired on her Bourbon, Missouri “Pea Ridge” farm, Leona was happy to publish her environmental and philosophical poems, grow heirloom variety apples, tutor disabled children and collect local family stories. She cared for her husband thru eight years of dementia, developed many health issues and in last years moved to Wisconsin to be was cared for by her daughter Grace.
She was proceeded in death by her son, Charles William; husband, Charles Wheyend; and her parents, Russell and Margaret Mason.
She is survived by her children, Russell Dawson, Carrie Jane, Grace Margaret, and Irene Angela; seven grandchildren; nine great grandchildren; other relatives and friends.
She was interred in the family plot in Washburn, Wisconsin after a small family service.