Leona Harriet Larson Shanks of Mesquite, Texas, passed away on December 15, 2020, age 86, after suffering from Covid pneumonia. We are persuaded that Leona was not taken by Covid, but it was the time appointed by our loving Lord Jesus Christ for her to enter into eternal rest and peace.
Leona was preceded in death by her husband, George G. Shanks; her parents, Edward and Eleanor Larson, great servants of the Faith; two siblings, Dennis Larson, and Lavina Larson Diffee & her husband, Charles; and her son-in-law, Bora Cansiz. Leona is survived by her three daughters: Rachel and son-in-law, Mike Dubay, Mesquite, TX; Rebecca and son-in-law Bob Edzerza, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada; Ruthie Cansiz, Rome, Georgia; her only granddaughter, Senay Alexandria Cansiz, Georgia; and her two step-grandsons, Daniel and Patrick Dubay, California. Her remaining siblings are: sister Vivian & Joe Hemphill, West Monroe, LA; brother Wendell "Ole" & Wanda Larson, Garland, TX; and sister Doris "Susie" & Terry Carpenter, Garland, TX.
Born on October 12, 1934, in Pepin (Lund Community), Wisconsin, of Swedish and Norwegian descent, Leona spent the greater part of her youth in Red Wing, Minnesota. She graduated Red Wing High School in 1951, and then attended and graduated Apostolic Bible Institute, St. Paul, MN, in 1957. There she met her husband, George, and they were married close to 60 years. Leona served in pastoral ministry beside her husband for many years in Illinois: Lincoln, Taylorville, Belleville, West Frankfort, Springfield, and Tiskilwa. They also served in church planting, and home missions in the Yukon Territory, Canada. Leona became an ordained minister in 1966.
Leona's first job was at Goodhue County Bank in Redwing, and she later became head bookkeeper at the Bank of Egypt in Marion, IL. In her working years, she also worked as a legal secretary.
Her three daughters were born in 1958, 1959 and 1962. While raising her girls, Leona always had hot meals on the table for
the family to enjoy. She was a seamstress, making many of their clothes, and she went on school field trips and always attended their school programs, concerts and recitals. Her daughters have wonderful childhood memories of her love and care. She instilled her love for music in her children—there was always music and singing in the home! Later in life, she earned her B.A. in Management from Sangamon State University (Phi Theta Kappa), Springfield, IL in 1985.
In 2003, Leona was honored at her retirement for working 19 years in the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Shortly thereafter, George and Leona retired to Garland, Texas in 2004. They became members of New Life Church, Garland, Texas. Before George passed away, he had been ill for several years. Leona cared for him faithfully and sacrificially to the point of exhaustion. After George passed away in 2017, she made her home with Rachel and Mike in Mesquite in 2018. She was a member of North Cities United Pentecostal Church in Garland at her passing.
In 2004, George and Leona were honored for 50 years of ministry. Leona was involved in ministry all of her adult life. In addition to pastor's wife, she was a gifted musician (piano, organ, singer, and choir director), teacher, and a talented storyteller. She was a requested speaker at various events and even district youth camp. She assisted George in church district and national work in various capacities. In addition, she served as Sunday School superintendent and teacher, youth leader, and Ladies Auxiliary leader; she completed tasks behind the scenes that we will never know! Leona was a Bible study teacher on her job for many years and continued that in church small groups even into 2019. In one of her small groups, she played the keyboard for hymn singing until a month before her passing at age 86. She was the consummate hostess—her home was always open to guests.
Leona's heart was always tender toward missions and the work of God, having learned from her godly parents and their Christian heritage. She leaves behind a great legacy of faithfulness and perseverance; she was a two-time cancer survivor and lived through many hard times, but rarely complained. However, her race is complete, and she has reached the "Finish Line" in Victory. She is now singing a "New Song". She lived her life for this day!