Leona McLain

Sunday, March 11, 2007

An era has ended. The youngest and only remaining child of 11 born to Herman and Mary Klostermann Kirchhoff, early pioneers in the Egypt Mills area, died Saturday, March 10, 2007. Leona Malinda Kirchhoff McLain was born Sept. 24, 1909. Her grandfather, Henry W. Kirchhoff, is co-credited with naming Egypt Mills. McLain lived on the farm where she was born until moving to the Lutheran Home in August of 2004. She attended Egypt Mills Grade School and High School.

She married J. Russell McLain June 1, 1935, "a day too wet to plow -- might as well get married," or so the story goes. Russell passed away Feb. 3, 1990.

Survivors include two daughters, Maxine (Harold) Gerlach and Mary (Paul) Friese all of Cape Girardeau; four grandchildren, Rob (Joan) Gerlach of Austin, Texas, Terry (Kim) Gerlach, Debra Friese, and Craig (Brenda) Friese, all of Cape Girardeau; 10 great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandchild; and numerous nephews and nieces.

She was a member of Trinity Lutheran in Egypt Mills where she was active in the Ladies Aid and served on the church building committee. She was a member of the choir and truly sang a joyful noise unto the Lord. Even when she found it difficult to remember names near the end, she still found joy in playing the piano at the Lutheran Home.

McLain was active with the SEMO District Fair. She entered her quilts and preserves in the competition and won countless blue ribbons. For over 40 years she worked at the fair's West Entrance Gate. Leona was also president of the MFA Auxiliary in Jackson, volunteered for Red Cross blood drives, was a member of the Cape Girardeau Senior Center and a Republican committeewoman.

She loved life -- laughing, swapping jokes, visiting, playing cards, sleigh riding with the grandchildren, making music and dancing. She cherished every opportunity to be with her family and friends. Speaking of her and her siblings, Leona often said that "you could hear a Kirchhoff approaching before you saw them."

She was preceded in death by five brothers and five sisters.

Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 12, at Ford and Sons Mount Auburn Chapel.

The funeral, a celebration of her life, will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 13, at Ford & Sons Mount Auburn Chapel, with the Rev. Kevin Olson officiating.

Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Family requests memorials to Egypt Mills Trinity Lutheran Church Building Fund or Cape Girardeau Senior Center.