Leona Fleetwood

LEONA FLEETWOOD by Gary Dielman

After graduating cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, Leona Fleetwood came west to teach school at Warren, Idaho. While visiting her uncle, Simeon Childs Richardson, mayor of Greenhorn, Baker County, Oregon, she took a job teaching at nearby Bonanza Mine. But after a time, her love of books led her to librarian school in Los Angeles, where she worked for a while after finishing her studies. However, she had developed an unending love for Eastern Oregon, so she returned to Baker City to be children’s librarian (1940), and later, head librarian of the Carnegie Library (1942-1960).


Ruth Lewis Meenk (BHS '57) writes about Leona’s library work, “Leona Fleetwood set the stage for making books an endless source of pleasure in my life, and in the lives of many others lucky enough to feel her influence.” But she didn’t just love books. She used puppets she made herself to provide Saturday morning entertainment and education for children; loved drama and art; and helped establish Baker Heritage Museum, Crossroads Arts Center, and the local chapter of AAUW, of which she was an active lifetime member.


Leona and husband, Orville, loved square dancing so much they belonged to three local square-dance groups. Until her death on October 20, 1983, Leona Fleetwood’s zest for living and learning activated and energized a multitude of community activities.

 

Remembrances of Leona Fleetwood by Ruth Lewis Meenk:

“I remember Leona Fleetwood as the queen of the library: she inspired awe and fear, and could do no wrong. Yet in spite of all the intimidation, she was regularly kind and generous with her time and information. It’s just that I recall her doing it sternly. She put on great puppet shows, but she also did much more to make the library an exciting and welcoming place for kids who preferred reading to any other activity.

I almost lived in the Carnegie Library during my elementary and jr. high school years. It was within walking distance (albeit a bit of a hike) from my home. My mother, an R.N., often worked as office nurse for Dr. Inman, across the street from the library, so I was in close enough proximity to a parent to be allowed almost limitless access to the library. I think I read every book in the children’s library, especially focusing on the Greek and Roman myths, knowledge which helped me enormously during my college years. It was so wonderful and cool in the summer; there were the marvelous puppet shows, and frequently there were contests. I remember an Easter egg decorating contest. I gorped up a boiled egg with feathers, called it “Chanticleer” and won a book entitled The Five Little Peppers. Actual owned books (not borrowed from the library) were a rare treat in my house, and I still have that prized book.

Leona Fleetwood set the stage for making books an endless source of pleasure in my life, and in the lives of many others lucky enough to feel her influence.

 

click here to download Leonas complete eulogy in word format

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