The definition of an Irish matriarch: Stubborn. Sassy. Didn’t take guff from anyone. Quick wit. Resilient. Loved. Leota M. (Owens) Conroy passed away on July 29, 2022 at the age of 93.
The Mass of Christian burial will be on September 3, 2022 at 10:30 am at St. Agnes Catholic Church 416 S. Walker St. Vermillion, SD. Visitation and Knights of Columbus Service will be at 9:30 am one hour prior to the funeral. The service will be a dual funeral for both Joe and Leota Conroy.
Following the burial at Calvary Cemetery in Vermillion, a lunch will be served at St. Agnes. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Tim Conroy Endowment Fund at Mount Marty University, 1105 West 8th Street, Yankton, SD or St. Agnes Catholic Church, Vermillion, SD.
Leota was born August 23, 1928, in Kenesaw, Nebraska. On June 1, 1948, Leota married her high school sweetheart C. Joe Conroy. They were united for 73 years and had seven children.
Leota was preceded in death by her husband Joe in February 2022; her parents Ralph and Genie (Hardon) Owens; sister Theo Oltman; sons Scott, Thomas, Timothy; and grandson Patrick Conroy.
She is survived by daughter Cynthia Novacek and husband Jerry of Olathe, KS; son Russell and wife Mary of Springfield, MO; son Alan and wife Julie of Topeka, KS; daughter Dr. Christine Hof and husband Dr. Jem Hof of Yankton, SD, 13 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.
Leota graduated from Shelton High School in Shelton, NE in 1945. While preparing to start her teaching career, she was in a car that was hit by a train. Seriously injured, she was sent to Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, NE for surgery. Leota spent an entire year in the hospital recovering. Her mother Genie Owens left her job in Shelton, moved to Lincoln, and worked at the hospital to be with Leota. After her miraculous recovery, Joe returned from World War II and they were married on June 1, 1948. The couple moved to Omaha where Joe finished his degree in business at Creighton University and Leota taught in a one room school house for several years.
In 1970, Joe and Leota moved to Vermillion, South Dakota where Leota worked at Vermillion Middle School. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to own and run a women's clothing store named Four Seasons for many years– a staple in downtown Vermillion for college students and women of all ages. She loved trips to Minneapolis to find the latest fashions for her customers. After she retired, she worked part time at Hy-Vee as the “demo lady”.
Leota was active in many organizations in Vermillion. She ran for the State House, was a member of Quota International (empowering the deaf and hard of hearing), Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Vermillion Chamber of Commerce, Clay County Democrats, the VFW Auxiliary and Volunteered at St. Agnes Catholic Church.
She was an amazing cook and to this day none of her children or grandchildren can make her potato salad- though there have been many attempts! She loved playing her piano and singing – and it was required- that her kids had to dance with her in the kitchen while she cooked. In 2017, Joe and Leota won the dance contest at their granddaughter’s wedding. Leota was a fantastic wife, mom, grandma, great grandma and great-great grandma. So, with words from one of Leota's favorite songs “Moonlight Serenade” we send you to your life-long partner, Joe.
You will be loved and missed by all, but we are comforted that you are with your beloved Joe, and your dearly departed children, and grandson.
Kober Funeral Home of Vermillion, South Dakota has been entrusted with the services. Condolences may be posted online to www.koberfuneralhome.com