View Original Notice → Clara Marie Leonards Wilfert
A very bright light left this earth after almost 99 years of living, as Clara Marie Leonards Wilfert passed away peacefully at home on Sept. 3, 2020, at the age of 98.
She was born in Crowley on Oct. 29, 1921, to her late parents, H. Leo Leonards and Mary Gertrude Olinger Leonards, one of 10 children in the family and the first girl after five boys.
Raised on the family farm off of McCain Road outside of Crowley, Clara Marie quickly became indispensible in helping her parents run the family home and farm, adept at helping in almost all phases of farm life, including raising chickens and milking cows.
Living in the country fostered a lifelong love of nature, which she continued through her love of gardening and raising her favorite flower, roses. It also manifested itself in her daily routine throughout her life of getting up early between 4 and 5 a.m. to get work done, inspiring her motto of “Up with the chickens and to bed with the chickens.”
As a young woman, Clara Marie and her family went into town for a gathering for J.C. “Chunkey” Wilfert who had come back from the war. It did not take long for Clara Marie to become captivated by the handsome and charming navigator from the Army Air Corps, and Chunkey also took immediate notice of the dark-haired beauty in her white dress across the room.
Shortly after, Chunkey started visiting the Leonards’ family farm quite often until he finally popped the question that Clara Marie hoped he would ask. After marrying on Dec. 26, 1944, in Crowley, they immediately boarded a train for Springfield, Massachusetts, where Chunkey was stationed.
After retiring from the Air Corp, the couple moved back to Crowley with their baby son, Leonard, into a small home across the road from the family farm.
While Chunkey worked on starting his fledgling wholesale jewelry business, they welcomed their first daughter, Leobelle (Lee). Outgrowing the space, the family eventually moved to town where daughters Paula Ann and Marian were born.
Clara Marie was a cheerful partner helping Chunkey in any way that she could, and their deep, lifelong love lasted almost 57 years until Chunkey’s death in 2001.
A self-described proud homemaker, Clara Marie was the perfect wife, mother, and grandmother, always doing what needed to be done first, but then taking the time to enjoy her children and grandchildren. She dearly loved family and this included all of her many relatives.
There was nothing she enjoyed more than sitting down to talk with them when they came to visit or go to their houses to see them, including occasionally driving up to St. Meinard and Ferdinand, Indiana, to visit with her mother’s family.
Clara Marie’s true foundation, however, was one of faith and strong belief in the importance of God in our lives. To that end, she tirelessly volunteered with the St. Michael’s Altar Society and taught C.C.D., as well as becoming a member of the Catholic Daughters of America while her children were growing up.
To all, she was a bundle of energy and love. Clara Marie could bring a smile to your face because she always offered a sweet smile first.
Clara Marie was preceded in death by her husband, J.C. “Chunkey” Wilfert; her son, Leonard Phillip Wilfert; and her brothers and sisters, Joseph F. Leonards, Ferdinand J. Leonards, Rheinoldt J. Leonards, Edmund A. Leonards, Leo C. Leonards, Henrietta Leonards Gayle, and Sr. Bernadine Leonards, CDP.
She is survived by her daughters, Leobelle “Lee” Wilfert Nevitt and husband William G. Nevitt, Paula Wilfert Winzer, and Marian Wilfert Beauchamp and husband Gary V. Beauchamp; her daughter-in-law, Theresa Zimmer Wilfert; her grandchildren, Todd William Nevitt, Ryan James William Nevitt, Eric Wayne Winzer and wife Kristin Winzer, Lori Nicole Winzer and wife Deidra Winzer, James Clayton “Clay” Wilfert and wife Elizabeth Wilfert; Amy Lynn Beauchamp; great grandchildren, Kip David Winzer, Addison Rae Winzer, Claire Hillary Wilfert, and Joseph Walter Wilfert; her sister, Sr. Mildred G. Leonards, CDP; her brother, A.P. Leonards; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family wishes to acknowledge the loving and painstaking care of our mother by our sister, Lee, and husband Bill. The family also has deep gratitude to her other caregivers, Margie Walker, Judia LaCombe, Joella Lease, Yvonne Bourque, Clotilde Valair, as well as to her family physician, Dr. Juliet Robinson, MD.
Visitation will be at Geesey-Ferguson Funeral Home on Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., with a Rosary at 1 p.m.
Mass will follow at St. Michael’s Catholic Church at 2 p.m. with graveside services following.
A full Celebration of Clara Marie’s Life will be held on her birthday, Oct. 29, 2020.