Leona Hougen

Honored by:Roy Hougen
Brick location:E:9  map

Born: Leona Christina Hougen March 19, 1905 to Herman and Christina Gronbech Jewell, Iowa. Raised: Jewell Iowa on a small diversified farm. Education: Jewell elementary and high school. Ellsworth College Iowa Falls, Iowa. Iowa State College B.S. Home Economics 1931.

Employment/Occupation: Elementary school teacher in Radcliffe Randall and Coon Rapids, Iowa as she worked her way through college. Homemaker after marriage. Family: Married Virgil Curtis Hougen August 18, 1931. Children: Omar Paul Hougen(1932) Roy Eugene Hougen (1935) Ruth Marie Hougen (1936) Marlow James Hougen (1937) Curtis Leon Hougen (1938) Leona Hougen is most of all a heroine to her family.

Although active in her church and as opportunities arose in community activities she was first and foremost a homemaker a wife to her husband and a mother to their children. Later in life this has included grandchildren (19) and great grandchildren (29 as of May 1995). Leona's husband Virgil was a pastor in the Lutheran Church.

He served rural parishes in South Dakota during the Great Depression of the 1930's in Minnesota and in Iowa. As a pastor's wife Leona was a part of the parish ministry a role expected of and practiced by many pastors' wives in those days. She was a co-worker with him through her personal support in his work and ministry as well as being actively involved in church organizations and activities. For the last several years of his career Virgil administered a retirement/nursing home in Decorah Iowa. Here too Leona was his supporter and confidant. As a wife and mother it was Leona's responsibility one that she gladly accepted to help organize and support their family through their growing-up years. Financial resources were meager for a rural pastor's family especially in the '30's but she and her husband were resourceful and able to stretch what they had to meet their needs. They raised a big garden and a few head of livestock to supplement their food budget. Leona made many of the children's clothes. By today's standards they would no doubt have been in the "poverty" classification. But the children never thought of themselves as poor or disadvantaged. They had a full life with loving caring supportive parents.

Although the family was busy with their own activities there was always room for one more. Several people stayed with the family from time to time. Friends or relatives stayed for periods of time joined the family and enriched their lives. It was further evidence of the generosity and service Leona and her husband shared with others. With family and relatives Leona and Virgil celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1981. Virgil died in 1991 just a few months short of their 60th wedding anniversary. Leona again with most of her extended family present celebrated her 90th birthday in March 1995. After her family left home Leona devoted more of her time to volunteer work especially work with older people in nursing homes and adult day care centers. She has the ability to visit with and involve them at the level of their capability.

At age 90 Leona is still an active volunteer helping those who need this kind of companionship and support. One of Leona's special interests has been her Danish heritage. Her father Herman Gronbech was a Danish immigrant and Leona has taken it upon herself to share this legacy with her family through her remembrances books gifts and artifacts. Herman himself was a graduate of Iowa State College in 1894.

Leona's regard for her Danish ancestry has extended to an interest and support of the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn Iowa. Leona is indeed a heroine - wife mother grandmother friend volunteer church member - to the many people who have known and loved her over the years.