Leona Loriena Ryan, age 92, of Waconia, died Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, at the Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.
She was born May 1, 1920, in Plato, the daughter of Carl F. and Sophia M. (Jenneke) Holtz. Leona was the 12th and last surviving child in a family of 16 siblings.
She grew up on a farm in Plato, and prior to marriage, worked as a live-in household helper for several families.
Leona was united in marriage to Woodrow W. (“Woody”) Ryan June 30, 1942, at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church in Green Isle.
Following their marriage, the couple moved to Waconia, where they shared 56 years of marriage.
Following Woodrow’s death, Leona remained in her home until the age of 91, when she became a resident at Auburn Home in Waconia.
Early in her life, Leona became a working mother of three. She was a nursing aide at the Nagel Hospital in Waconia, until she was recruited to start her 26-year career as the head cook and dietician for the District 110 Public Schools.
In the summers, she did restaurant and catering services. She lent her cooking skills to philanthropy, and created the famous and often requested Nickle Dickle Day barbecue recipe. For many years, she also cooked for every fundraiser the schools and community could come up with.
A lifelong member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Leona was actively involved in the Ladies Guild and a member of the adult, guitar, and funeral choirs for many years. The bell choir originated with her husband Woodrow’s memorial gift.
Leona will best be remembered for her incredible generosity to others, her always cheerful outlook, her positive attitude, and her sincere concern for others. She had the biggest heart, and loved to socialize with everyone. She will be missed.
In addition to her husband, Woody, Leona was preceded in death by her daughter and son-in-law, Patricia and Glenn Muehlstedt; a great-grandson, Matteo Martino; her father and mother, Carl and Sophia Holtz; and brothers and sisters Clemens, Clarence, Ruth, Ruben, Sid, Reinhard, Dorothea, Benjamin, Lavern, Lorna, Otto Jr., Vernon, William, Hillard, and Martha.
Leona is survived by her loving family; daughter and son-in-law Margaret “Peggy” and Lloyd LaValle of Waconia; son Dr. William “Bill” Ryan and Kay Wyler of Stanford, CT, daughter-in-law Sheila Ryan of Mahwah, NJ; grandchildren Carla and Scott Seele, Mindy and Jamie Roux, Amy and Brian Strane, Mark LaValle, David and Joanne LaValle, Jodi and Dan Martino, Jon and Jazzmin LaValle, Michael and Susan Ryan, Matthew and Jennifer Ryan, Brynn and Corey Mood, and Haleigh Wyler; and great-grandchildren Catherine, Rebecca, Luke, Peter, Sarah, Gabriel, William, Mitchell, Jonathan, Sophia, Juliet, Gavin, Lauren, Alexa, Callie, Madeline, Emily, Gabriella, Rocco, Giuliana, Marco, Ellie, Maia, Declan, Rachael, Erin and August.
She is further survived by sisters-in-law Delores Holtz of Hutchinson, Bea Holtz of Eden Prairie, and Bea Koester of Glencoe; numerous nieces; nephews; and other relatives and friends.
A funeral Mass took place Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waconia, with Father Bill Paron as celebrant of the Mass. Interment was in the church cemetery. There was visitation from 9 a.m. until the time of the Mass at the church.
Leona’s grandchildren were her casket bearers.
Arrangements were with the Johnson Funeral Home in Waconia; www.johnsonfh.com.