In Memory of Leona L. Cummings
Leona Lois Lindquist Cummings, aged 94, passed away in Frederic, Wisconsin on March 6, 2023.
Leona was born on October 14, 1928. Her parents were Samuel Linquist and Annie Lundeen. Her grandparents on both sides of the family immigrated from Sweden. The farm where Leona was born had been homesteaded by the Lindquist Family, and Lundeen Road, off County Road 48, is named after her maternal ancestors. Leona said with “roots like these, I was meant to be a talker, and eater, and a stubborn Swede!”
The family lost their farm during the Great Depression. The Lindquists struggled during this time, living off the land and renting a number of different homes in Polk county. Leona, along with her four siblings, all took on jobs when they were very young. When she was only 12 years old, Leona worked as a hired girl on the Walter Lindh farm. She milked cows by hand and did household chores and cared for the family’s small daughter. Leona lived with the Lindh’s all week, only seeing her own family when she walked home for a visit on Sundays.
Leona was finally able to move back home when she was 15 years old. At that time she had money in the bank and, in her own words, “knew the meaning of caring, sharing, responsibility, and appreciation.”
Leona also worked at Hagbergs. store in Frederic when she was 15 years old. She worked there for 6 1/2 years.
In 1950, Leona married Royce Cummings. She worked as a bookkeeper for the electric company until Royce and Leona started their family in 1954. They had four sons: Jeffrey, Jon, Jay, and Gene.
Royce started a sawmill business in 1958. It eventually became the Cummings Lumber company. Royce and his four sons worked at the lumber company six days a week. Leona served as the company bookkeeper, secretary, cook, conflict, mediator, and all around glue that held that business and the family together.
Leona had a calling that went beyond her role as wife and mother. In 1939, one of her grade school teachers wrote the following note in Leona’s autograph book:
“True worth is in being, not in seeming. In doing each day that goes by, some little good. Not in dreaming of great things to do, bye and bye.”
Leona took this advice to heart. For more than three decades, she did more than “some little good.” She did great good for a great many people.
Leona held weekly Bible study classes at the care center in town. Calling herself Grandma Passage, Leona shared hugs and laughter with troubled youth at the Northwest Passage mental health facility in Frederic. Leona assumed different personas and entertained audiences ranging in age from pre-school to the elderly. She became Johnny Appleseed, a pilgrim, a schoolgirl, Rudolph the red nose reindeer, a homemaker from historic times, and Betsy Ross. Leona brought history to life for generations of people.
One of Leona’s proudest accomplishments was the founding of the Frederic Soo Line Depot museum, an extraordinary gift to Frederic and visitors from around the state.
Leona made a point to try every day to give someone a compliment and to make someone laugh. She believed humor and kindness were a gift to the heart.
Leona never met a garage sale that she didn’t like. If you got a gift from Leona, you could be 99% certain that it was secondhand. Years ago she purchased her own burial plot and headstone. Leona said, only half-joking, that if the task was left to her sons, they would probably choose to buy her headstone from a garage sale because she would like that the best.
Leona spent her last few years at Traditions Nursing home in Frederic. Almost to her last day, Leona was still singing her favorite songs and cracking jokes. Her laughter and love were a gift to all who knew her.
Leona was preceded in death by her husband Royce, and her son Jon Cummings (Judy). She is survived by sons Jeffrey Cummings, Jay Cummings (Julie), and Gene, as well as by nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Visitations will be on March 13th from 5-7 pm and on March 14 from 10-11 am at the Crosswalk Community Church, 505 Old County Rd W, Frederic, WI. The funeral will follow from 11 with the burial at Maple View Cemetery.
Last Update: Mar 11, 2023 7:39 pm CST