Leona Irene (Beethe) Watermann was born on August 19, 1928 to Theodore and Clara (Rinne) Beethe on the family farm near Elk Creek, Nebraska. Leona was baptized at St. Peters Lutheran Church on September 2, 1928 by Rev. Iddo C. Heinicke.
Leona attend District 30, Beethe School, through the fifth grade and then attended St. Peters Lutheran School and was confirmed on March 29, 1942 by Rev. W.G. Nau. Leona and Henry had the same Confirmation verse, Psalm 145:18-19. She graduated from Elk Creek High School and was the Valedictorian of the class of 1946.
Leona was united in marriage to Henry Watermann Jr. on February 2, 1947. They first made their home on Henry’s family farm. In January 1949 they moved to Leona’s home place. Leona moved to Ridgeview Towers in January of 2015. The Watermann family represented Johnson County on WOW-TV’s Farm Family in 1970. Henry and Leona received the Nebraska Pioneer Farm Award in 1981 having lived on the farm that Leona’s grandfather August Beethe homesteaded and that Leona’s father Theodore later purchased. Growing up as an only child, Leona’s cousins were very dear to her and she extended this friendship to Henry’s cousins also when she married Henry. Mom and the cousins always remembered each other on birthdays with letters and cards.
Five children were born to Henry and Leona – Ann, Ross, Jane, Sara and a stillborn son.
Leona was active in the Dorcas Society of St. Peters Lutheran Church since 1948. She enjoyed the sewing days as they made quilts for various organizations. Leona was a 4-H leader for many years helping several girls in addition to her own learn to sew and cook. The house was a beehive of activity as the girls sewed, cooked and Ross and the girls washed sheep and calves and Leona was there to keep it all going – maybe refereeing a little too! When Sara went to college Leona began working at Campbell Soup and worked until her retirement 16 ½ years later.
Leona was the typical farm wife – gardening, baking, milking cows, butchering chickens, hogs and cattle, helping move equipment and nothing cleaned dirty overalls better than homemade lye soap! Mom was very patient as she had to share the ground under her clothes line with Ross and the girls as that is where they played farm! Leona and her mom, Clara, worked very closely canning garden produce, sewing and mending and there was no better smell to come home from school to than the smell of fresh baked bread and cinnamon rolls. Leona was an accomplished seamstress, sewing most of the dresses for her and the girls, making seat covers for vehicles and furniture. Leona was a wonderful organizer – making and putting up shelves and cupboards, keeping records – if you want to know what was served and how much at a Dorcas dinner we probably have the notes for that, along with notes from her kids prom and activity dinners! Leona made cooking holiday dinners for her family look easy as Ann and Sara struggle together trying to do what Mom did by herself effortlessly! And we still have not mastered her recipes for the family favorites. Leona was a wonderful caregiver as she cared for Henry’s dad while he lived with them. Mom was always available to come help when her children or grandchildren needed extra help or hands. Henry and Leona stayed in Denver with Sandi while she was in the hospital after her accident so Ross could juggle work and hospital visits and someone needed to be with Sandi. Finally Mom took care of Henry, helping him daily and making sure he always had what he needed.
Leona’s pride and joy were her grandchildren – she sat on a lot of bleachers in the cold, heat and was always willing to go to an event. Leona loved their visits and missed Erik’s report on the cows as he checked on her while she lived on the farm. Leona and Henry were tickled pink to fill in on Parent’s Night for Ross and Sandi at one of Grants basketball games in Colorado. Leona was also proud to be the first in her family to see her great-grandchildren. One of Leona’s greatest gifts to her family are the hours spent poring over pictures as she created photo albums for all of them!
She passed away November 8, 2018 at Belle Terrace in Tecumseh, Nebraska at the age of 90 years, 2 months and 17 days.
Leona was preceded in death by husband Henry (2008), her parents and stillborn son. Leona is survived by her children – Ann Wachsmann and husband Del of Omaha, Ross Watermann and wife Sandi of Vona, CO, Jane Kuhlers of Omaha, Sara Kappel and husband Rex of Humboldt, grandchildren – Justin Wachsmann and wife Amy, Grant Watermann, Tyler Watermann and wife Jamie, Libbie Appleby-Leo and husband Zachary, Erik Kappel, Kasey Kappel, Steven Kuhlers, Stefi Kuhlers, great grandchildren – Connor Wachsmann, Morgan Wachsmann, Dusti Watermann, Ilana Appleby-Leo, Ziva Appleby Leo, Netanya Appleby-Leo, and Luetta Watermann.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday, November 12, 2018 at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, rural Elk Creek, Nebraska with Rev. Robert Schermbeck officiating.
Visitation will be held from 1-8 p.m., with family greeting friends from 2- 5 p.m., Sunday, November 11, 2018 at the Wherry Mortuary in Tecumseh, Nebraska.
Memorials in lieu of flowers may go to the family’s choice.
Interment will be in the St. Peter’s Lutheran Cemetery, rural Elk Creek, Nebraska.
Online condolences may be left @ www.wherrymortuary.com.