Hard-working, lighthearted, and playful, Leonard Millard lived his life with kindness and generosity. Compelled from an early age to live a life of service, Leonard eagerly gave of his time and talents. Leonard embodied a quiet humility and in so doing proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. A treasured brother, husband, father, and grandfather, he will long be cherished in the hearts of those he loved.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope than in Eyota, MN home of LeRoy and Vera (Britzius) Millard as they welcomed their son Leonard into their family on January 5, 1937.
Growing up in Southeastern Minnesota, Leonard enjoyed a childhood rich in activity. One of four rambunctious boys, Leonard grew up in a home that was full of energy, love, and deep family ties. His mother often told him in private that he was the "best and nicest of the four boys." Though she told each of her sons this same thing, Leonard was always endeared by the affirmations of her love for him.
While he wasn't much interested in reading during his school years and was even sent home with a note from his teacher saying he should read more literature, the connections he made with his classmates proved powerful. He carefully kept all of their graduation photos, with their personal messages written on the back, in safe keeping his entire life. His senior yearbook " I don't preach, so why should I practice". In addition to his friendships, as a teen, Leonard was singularly focused on becoming a farmer. Farming was all he talked about as he set his mind firmly on making his dream a reality.
After graduating from St. Charles High School in 1955, Leonard joined the US Army Reserve in 1956. For the next six years, Leonard proudly served our country in the 330th MP Battalion. During his service, he had the special honor of serving alongside his brother Rowland as security for a local Eisenhower--Stevenson debate during the 1957 election tour.
In 1959, Leonard married Sandra Fort. Though the marriage ended in divorce, Leonard and Sandra were blessed with four children; James, Susan, Jeffrey, and Kristine who were the center of their worlds. When his older children were young, Leonard farmed, later driving truck for a living. The young family took trips to the Dells and shared many long drives through the countryside listening to the Minnesota Twins on WCCO radio.
In 1992, Leonard married LeAnn Schaefer. They enjoyed three lovely years together until she passed away after a lengthy illness.
Fortune granted Leonard another chance at love in 1996 when he met his beloved, Lee Poppen, at Apache Mall where she worked. Their first date was going for a soda at the food court, and their courtship lasted 18 years! In 2014 the happy couple celebrated their love by marrying in the good company of family and friends.
Leonard was a deeply curious man who enjoyed learning, especially about current events or history. Naturally quiet, Leonard keenly listened to others always fascinated to learn about and from them. With a signature, "Is that right?" Leonard expressed his interest in new information others shared, and when the subject centered around one of his passions, he would talk with both enthusiasm and respect. Never one to brag or talk about himself, Leonard was quite a jokester, who much preferred to keep the attention on others. With an affectionate "What for are you leaving?" Leonard expressed his fondness for Lee as they parted for the day. He was affectionate for his family, telling them he loved them and hugging his girls goodbye.
As a local businessman, Leonard owned and operated SE Skid Loader in St. Charles and worked hauling dirt and sand with his dump truck. With firm principles and unwavering integrity, Leonard could be demanding. Even so, his generosity was what he was most known for. He unhesitatingly donated much of his time and equipment over the years to serve his community. He helped build the St. Charles School District high school track and eagerly loaned his talents and resources to the Winona County Fair and Faith Lutheran Church over the years.
Rarely did a day go by without Leonard indulging his favorite vices, popcorn and toothpicks. Toothpick behind his ear or in use in his mouth were commonplace. They were frequently reused and rarely found their way in to the waste basket whole.
For leisure, Leonard enjoyed John Wayne movies--especially McClintock, traveling to casinos with his beloved wife, going to auctions, and solving the world's problems one cup of coffee at a time with his revolving table of buddies. He was even known to tell a fib or two to watch NASCAR with Lee.
While it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Leonard's steadfast presence, may it afford deep comfort to know that his legacy lives on in our hearts and lives. As we quietly listen and learn from one another, offer others our time and talents, enjoy the warmth of friendship over a cup of coffee, and create a good-hearted prank, we celebrate the many ways Leonard gifted us. In turn, we keep his gentle and loving spirit alive and continuing to be a source of inspiration.
Leonard C. Millard, 81, of St. Charles, MN passed away unexpectedly in Wendover, NV early Friday, April 6.
Leonard is survived by his loving wife, Lee, four children; James, Susan (Donnie) Dahl, Jeffrey, and Kristine (Dan) Gardner; two step-daughters; Janette (Todd) Bever and Terry (Scott) Lambert; ten grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; two brothers Rowland (Cora) and Maynard Millard. He was preceded in death by his parents LeRoy and Vera, wife LeAnn, step-son Eddie, step-daughter Sheryl, step-granddaughter Kristi, brother Dayton and sister-in-law Edrie. Funeral Services will be 1:30 p.m. Friday at Faith Lutheran Church in St. Charles with the Reverend Steve McGinley officiating. Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery in Dover. Friends may call from 4-8 p.m. Thursday at Hoff Funeral Service in St. Charles. They may also call one hour before services at the church on Friday. Pallbearers will be Ben Dahl, Luke Kirtz, Max Bever, Dustin Lambert, Billy Goetz and Jason Schott.
Military graveside honors will be provided by St. Charles American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War groups. Please share a memory of Leonard and view his video tribute, when it becomes available at www.hofffuneral.com.
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