Leona Mae Lindstrom Grippen, 94, died Feb. 15, 2014, at her Assisted Living of Durand home, with family members and friends nearby.

Leona was born on July 16, 1919, to John and Frances Lindstrom at their home in Buffalo County. She was the seventh of ten children and was baptized immediately at home and later confirmed her faith at Lyster Lutheran Church in Urne.

She graduated from the Burnside School with highest honors at age 12 and began a long series of household positions, serving neighbors, relatives, and friends in various communities. She later worked at the Marion Hotel in Menomonie before returning to Durand to work for local businessmen and their families.

In 1940, she met Edmund Grippen, and they were married in May of 1941. When Edmund was drafted into the Army, Leona returned to help at her parents' farm in Buffalo County, where their first son, Lee, was born. Upon Edmund's return from WWII, he and Leona moved to Durand, where Edmund worked at the Post Office and developed a commercial art business; Leona served as his partner.

In addition to Lee, three other children were born to Ed and Leona: Kerry, Jane, and Linda. The entire family was very actively involved in the Durand United Methodist Church, where Leona served as an officer in numerous women's ministries and on church boards. She was also a member of Eastern Star, Durand Band Mothers, and a Cub Scout leader. She worked at the Durand Canning Company, for the Durand School District as a baker, and at Huntzinger Farms in Mondovi. She was also a gracious hostess and entertained family and friends constantly. If someone needed help, she was there. Her home was the hub of activity on school nights when nieces and nephews and their friends dropped in for a meal before dashing off to a football or basketball game, and her large family gathered often, where the children played and the adults played cards.

In later life, when Ed retired and their nest was empty, Leona and Ed traveled to Hawaii, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and many other places. When Ed died in March of 1983 at the age of 66, Leona continued her seasonal work at Huntzinger's and spent time with her children and grandchildren in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.

She was all about family, her European heritage, and helping others. She made a point of making friends with people of all ages and was "Mom" to her children's friends and "Grandma" to the many YFU foreign exchange students sponsored by her son Lee and his wife, Gayle. In 1987, she traveled with Lee to Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland to visit relatives and friends, and to attend two weddings in Norway.

Two of Leona's passions were reading and playing cards. She was the driving force behind her children's love of learning and literature, and always had several books nearby, right up to the last weeks of her life. Her competitive spirit made for many fun family moments. She liked to say, "I don't have to win, as long as I can beat somebody!" She was an avid crossword puzzle fan and only gave up that pleasure when she suffered a stroke in 2007. She played word games and card games with anyone who would take up the challenge, right up to a few weeks before her death. She also supported her children and grandchildren in their endeavors, attending concerts, plays, and other activities until her health failed.

In late 2012, Leona was hospitalized and shortly after moved to the Assisted Living of Durand. Attended lovingly by the owners, Marianne and Doug Van Stedum, and their staff, Leona quickly became a beloved "member of the family". She made new friends there and helped the staff make delicious baked goods, always accompanied by her cup of coffee, or "Norwegian gasoline", as she called it.

Leona's faith was fundamental to her life and family. She never sought the spotlight but rather preferred to stay in the background, quietly doing what needed to be done, humbly living her faith, and passing it on to her friends and family. She looked forward to her daily Bible reading and quiet conversations about how the Lord worked in her life. She modeled what a Christian is.

Leona is survived by her four children: Lee, of Caledonia; Kerry (Terry) of Niagara, Wis.; Jane Jafferi, of Durand, Wis.; and Linda (Duaine) Tollefson, also of Durand; four grandchildren: Rachel (David) Storlie, of Spring Grove; Jon Grippen, of Minneapolis; Zahida (Evan Leech) Severson, of Baldwin, Wis.; and Jacob Grippen, of Winona; three great-grandchildren: Kennedy, Isaiah, and Hannah, of Baldwin; two sisters-in-law: Evelyn Lindstrom, of Durand; and Marian Mason, of Winona.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Edmund; her parents, John and Frances Lindstrom; three brothers: "Jack"; Victor; and John; six sisters: Christina (Clarence) Walter; Florence (Clare) Abbott; Olive (Earl) Stewart; Idell (Melvin) Johnson; Ruby (Ed) Walmsley; and infant sister, Evelyn; two brothers-in-law: Wilbur (Toni) Grippen; and Donald (Ellie) Grippen; numerous nieces and nephews, and many friends.

Leona's Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, March 1, at the United Methodist Church in Durand, with the Rev. Tammy Clausen officiating. Visitation will be at the church from 1 to 3 p.m., followed by the 3 p.m. service, and a time of fellowship afterward. A private family interment will be held at a later date. Goodrich Funeral Home in Durand is assisting the family. To express condolences on-line visit obituaries at www.goodrichfh.com

Thanks be to God for the life and Christian witness of His humble servant, Leona.