Lenna Powell Leeson


Lenna Powell Leeson, 90, of Sandy Spring, died May 31, 2019, at Brooke Grove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Sandy Spring, with her children at her side.
A proud native of West Virginia, she grew up in the village of Basnettville in Marion County. The daughter of the late J. Worley Powell and Mary Brock Powell, she was born on Oct. 21, 1928. She was named for her great-aunt, Lenna Lowe Yost, a prominent leader in the women's suffrage movement who is credited with influencing the successful ratification of the nineteenth amendment in West Virginia.
Mrs. Leeson graduated from West Virginia University in 1950. It was here that she met her late husband of 51 years, William M. Leeson. They moved to Cumberland in 1954. Mrs. Leeson was a social worker for the Allegany County Department of Social Services, working in adult services in the latter part of her career. She had a genuine appreciation for her senior clients, delighting in their unique stories and wisdom. Their two children were raised in LaVale. The Leesons were committed to providing them with educational travel experiences, and family vacations meant camping trips all over the country to national parks and other destinations. Lenna learned to enjoy hiking, birding and the outdoor pursuits so loved by her husband. She was a great sport, even as her husband housed a myriad of unusual pets along the way such as injured birds, a groundhog, a raccoon, and a Florida king snake.
Lenna joined LaVale United Methodist Church in 1960 where she was active in the United Methodist Women and was a longtime member of the choir. An enthusiastic member of the LaVale Century Club, she greatly enjoyed serving as a docent at the historic LaVale Tollgate House, a club project originated in 1967. She was a friendly, outgoing person who remained intensely curious and engaged with her friends and family throughout her life. Earlier pursuits included working on the Christmas Caravan project, singing with the Cumberland Choral Society, supporting the Cumberland Theater, and dancing with the "Happy Tappers." A lifelong learner, she was passionate about history, travel, music, nature, bird watching, theater, playing Scrabble, reading, and maintaining relationships. A great writer and communicator, Lenna was still in regular contact with dozens she encountered on her journey. People's lives fascinated her and she had an uncanny ability to remember details about them, stemming from her genuine interest to maintain real connections. She leaves behind numerous friends who miss her joyful presence and infectious laugh. Lenna was an exceedingly warm and loving person who cherished her family and was deeply cherished in return.
In 2008, Lenna moved from her beloved Cumberland to an independent living residence at Brooke Grove Retirement Village. Here, she embraced new friends and took advantage of trips to museums, performances, and historical destinations. She loved Halloween and was an annual costume winner with her original and zany outfits. She also put together a ragtag "washboard kitchen band," made up of friends playing 'instruments' found in her garage. Lenna's philosophy to combat all the sadness in the world was to spread a little silliness, which was embraced with delight by those around her. Adored for her great sense of humor and spontaneity, she had a way of making any occasion fun with her love of jokes, puns, storytelling, silly hats, kazoo playing, and performing original song parodies.
Displaying a natural talent in music, she began piano lessons as a child and played in an improvisational stride style, and especially liked songs from the big band era. She had the gift of playing by ear, needing no music to play over 200 songs. For years as a volunteer, she performed at the piano for appreciative listeners right up until two months before her death, when she was still playing weekly at the retirement community where she resided. In 2010, she was awarded the AARP Andrus Award for Community Service, a prestigious tribute recognizing individuals who share their experience, talents, and skills to enrich the lives of others. Part of her legacy is having inspired and taught her son and grandson to become pianists, as well. An additional community contribution was her cumulative eight-gallon blood donation to the American Red Cross. Lenna was a committed Christian and a faithful attendee at Oakdale United Methodist Church, Olney.
Survivors include a son, Mark David Leeson, M.D. (Jessica Simkulet); a daughter, Laura Leeson Wright; three grandchildren, Jason T. Wright (Allison Kramer), Alexander W. Wright (Alyssa), and Kristin D. Leeson (James Moore); a great-grandson, Aidan Michael, was born to Alex and Alyssa Wright just five days after Mrs. Leeson's passing. Additional survivors include a sister, Frances Powell Bakewell, Tucson, Ariz.; as well as nieces, nephews, and cousins. Mrs. Leeson was predeceased by her husband in 2000, and her infant son, Jay Delbert Leeson, in 1955.
Those wishing to honor Lenna's life are encouraged to read to a child, volunteer to share your own personal gifts, feed the birds, return the favor, make someone laugh, be kind, share, and pass it on. A generous supporter of numerous charitable causes, especially those involving children and conservation, donations in her name are suggested to Shriners Hospital for Children (donate.lovetotherescue.org ) or Friends of Blackwater (saveblackwater.org).
A brief committal service and interment alongside her husband will take place at 2 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2019, at the Maryland State Veterans Cemetery at Rocky Gap, 14205 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, near Cumberland.
The following day, Sept. 7, 2019, a celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. at Oakdale Methodist Church, 3425 Emory Church Road, Olney. All are welcome.
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Published on August 24, 2019
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3 posts

Joe Connor
Aug 26, 2019
I was fortunate to have shared many evening meals at her Brooke Grove table during the short time that I was privleged to know her. She was always happy to see and laugh with any and all who came within her orbit.
Lorraine Harding
Aug 25, 2019
A memorial tree was planted in memory of Lenna Powell Leeson.  Plant a tree
Laura Wright
Jun 29, 2019
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