By Judith Baldwin Hensley
To all of Leona’s fans, we wish to tell you a little more about this amazing lady. She had a special gift as all of you know. Her memory carried her back to days past and gone. Her faith was present in all she wrote, and her humor left us with a smile. We all could relate to her writings, we found comfort and hope and most of all; we were able to smile a little that day. Leona was a woman o many talents. She was a second mama to the younger ones. She was a leader and a teacher in everything she did. She was a charter member of the Sidney Missionary Church and her efforts to help establish the little church in that area. She loved anyone and everyone that crossed her path. Her life was a sacrifice to the family and all she could do for her church and her savior…Leona never owned a lot in this world but when you were in her presence, you know she was rich beyond measure. We thank all of her friends who have been there and one thing we knew, she loved you all. This article is a tribute to Leona.
When we were children growing up, one of our favorite things to do was to go across the road to Ma and Poppy’s house in the evening and get close to our good neighbor’s June apple tree. Orison Smith was a wonderful neighbor and very patient with the Baldwin children. I am sure that every week or so, he saw that his June apple tree had fewer apples. We took our salt shaker with us and usually waited until after dark.
Sometimes we would make a little noise and out would come Ma or Poppy and one would begin to holler for our parents or for us to get out of the apple tree. Some may run under the porch, some behind the fence and usually one was in the tree. We all loved those June apples and our sweet neighbor never went to our parents or grandparents to tell on us. Sometimes I think, he just kept quiet with a chuckle in his heart, so that us children could enjoy those apples. Orison had a big garden down by the store and every summer, he would “hire” us children to come and work. Again, I think he wanted to help us kids out. Each of us would hold our small hands to have Orison place a few coins in them. Then, of course, we would spend it right there at the store. What a wonderful payday for us children several times in the summer. Leona spent most of her life working for a “payday.” She was promised it years ago. She toiled and labored. Even when pain was in her frail body, she counseled even when she was too tired to take a step. She always told me that God gave her extra strength when she needed it to do his service. She had been faithful and she too was following someone every step of the way. She followed him until the end of her work and now she has her pay day and I am sure if she could talk to us, she would say that half has not been told. Leona wanted her life to be a light and a witness to all she come in contact with. I believe it was and we count it an honor to be able to count her as her sister, aunt, friend, and teacher. God bless you all.
Judith Baldwin Hensley
and the Baldwins