Leon Thomas McGinnity, 78, of rural McGregor, N.D., died Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at his home under care of family and hospice. His funeral service is Friday, Nov. 29, at 2 p.m., at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Tioga. Visitation is Friday from noon to service time in the church. Burial is in United Cemetery in Tioga.
The fourth in a family of nine siblings, Leon was born at Powers Lake, N.D., on Aug. 29, 1935, to Eugene and Florence (Sagasar) McGinnity. Leon attended school at McGregor from the first grade through high school. He graduated with honors from McGregor High School in 1953. He was well known for his musical talent. He wrote songs and poems beginning at an early age. His father, mother, sisters and brothers were musicians so they enjoyed lots of family concerts.
Leon volunteered for the Army. The Korean War had just ended, so he was sent overseas to Germany, where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) provided for forces to be stationed there to “occupy” postwar Germany and keep the peace there. After his service there, he farmed with his father and attended North Dakota State Agricultural College in Fargo during the winter quarters.
While at NDSU, he dated and married Mary Buckley. Five boys were born of that union: Steven, Daniel, Randy, James, and Patrick. The marriage ended around the time when the boys were finished with their high school education. During those years, Leon worked in the oil field and farmed with his father. He took over the farming in full in 1966, when his parents moved to Mohall, N.D. Leon moved into employment as a gas plant operator at the Hunt Gas Plant near McGregor, then on to become the manager of the Lignite Gas Plant in the early ’80s. Through all this full-time employment, he kept a farming and cattle operation going at home.
On Feb. 3, 1984, Leon married Larena Olson (nee Volberg). This union added stepdaughter, Melissa, and stepsons, Monte, Mitch, and Mel. All the children, except for Mel and Melissa, had graduated and were into careers or attending college at that time. So the farm house Leon grew up in welcomed them and did not have to make room for all 9 children at one time. During this time, Leon worked for Fulton Oil to gauge and check producing oil wells. Then he was employed by Western Gas Resources at the Temple Gas Plant, which was built a mile west of the farm. Wife Renie (Larena) thought that was a little too close to the farm, because Leon could watch and see if she was having trouble with the machinery she was operating while he was at work.
In 1986, Leon was able to accomplish his lifelong dream of farming and ranching full time, with no additional employment to keep him from his fields. Leon won conservation awards for his pioneering in no-till farming, alternate cropping of lentils and for his cross-fencing of a quarter of pasture to preserve the grassland. He was active in the community on the Sauk Valley Township Board and 4 years as a director for the Williams County Soil Conservation District.
Leon is survived by: his wife of 29 years, Larena; sons, Steven McGinnity, of Tioga, N.D., Daniel (Joni) McGinnity, of McGregor, Randy (Alisa) McGinnity, of Wheatland, N.D., James (Veronica) McGinnity, of Tioga, and Patrick McGinnity, of Mandan, N.D.; stepsons, Monte (Pamela), of Victoria, Australia, Mitch Olson, of Fargo, N.D., Mel (Dawn) Olson, of Cloquet, Minn.; stepdaughter, Melissa (Jeffrey) Philipp, of Horace, N.D.;
Grandchildren, Daniel’s daughter, Kari (Casey) Canfield; Randy’s daughters, Ariel (Tyler) Lewin, Andrea McGinnity, Mariah McGinnity, Mari Anna McGinnity; James’s daughter, Meagan McGinnity and son, Allen Crimmins; Patrick’s daughter, Amanda (Anthony) Kalvoda;
Stepgrandchildren, Monte’s daughter, Stacy (Josh) Massey, sons, Tanner Olson, and Trevor Olson; Mitch’s son, Benjamin Olson, daughters, Emily Olson, Samantha Olson; Melissa’s sons, Harrison Philipp, Corbin Philipp, daughter, Marissa Philipp; Mel’s daughters, Abby Olson, Audrey Olson, Gabriella Larson, sons, Christopher Larson and Josiah Larson; seven great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews and cousins; brothers, Gary (Sandy) McGinnity, Powers Lake, N.D., Michael (Sylvia) McGinnity, Mohall, N.D.; and sisters, Clarice (Gary) Troxel, of Cody, Wyo., Janette Merrill, Plattesmouth, Neb., Dianne Pressnall, Yakima, Wash.; brother-in-law, Roger Philippi, Havre, Mont.; and sister-in-law, Joyce McGinnity, Bismarck, N.D.; and aunt, Faye McGinnity.
Leon was preceded in death by his parents, Eugene and Florence; brother, David McGinnity; sister, Phyllis Philippi; brother-in-law and sister, Marilyn and Samuel Filicetti, and brothers-in-law, William Merrill and Dorsey Pressnall.
He will surely be missed, this honorable man, Leon Thomas McGinnity.
Online condolences may be shared at (www.springanfuneralhome.com).
(Springan Funeral Home, Stanley)