Gwendolyn Lorraine Leno, 95, Farmington, MN, formerly of Bismarck/Mandan, went to our Lord peacefully in her sleep on June 10, 2022. A Celebration of Life will be held at 10:30 AM Saturday, October 8, 2022, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Mandan ND. Interment will follow at Mandan Union Cemetery.
Gwen was born on August 20, 1926, to Isadore W. and Margaret O. (Aronson) Smith. Her early years were spent with her family in a sod house south of Mandan. She attended Custer Flats Rural School before transferring to St. Joseph Grade School and Mandan High School. After graduating in 1945, Gwen began work at St. Alexius Nursing School in Bismarck where she met a young cab company owner by the name of Robert P. (Bob) White. Bob and Gwen were married in September 1948.
While Gwen was still in school, her family moved to Ft. Lincoln State Park. In the early 1950's, Bob accepted the Park's Superintendent position "temporarily" and Gwen and Bob joined her parents at the Park. Bob and Gwen were blessed with two children, Mary, in March 1954 and James (Jim) in February 1956. During the remainder of the 1950's and 1960's, Gwen raised her family plus worked full time managing the Park's concessions and inventory. She also made time to volunteer at St Joseph's Church and attend the Home Makers Club.
This all changed in October 1971, when Bob suffered a fatal heart attack. Gwen moved her family into Mandan while continuing to work at the park service central office. While in Mandan, Gwen became active in Parents Without Partners activities. During one particular dance she met a farmer who was "a good dancer" (per Gwen) by the name of Edwin (Ed) Leno. Gwen and Ed were married in March 1984 and moved to Bismarck.
Prior to meeting Ed, working full time, and social activities, Gwen began studying for a college degree at the University of Mary. Gwen completed her studies and earned her degree in Business Administration after her marriage to Ed.
Even though Gwen continued full-time work for the park service, her attention now included her new family, especially her young step-grandchildren. She thoroughly enjoyed babysitting as well as cooking for and hosting the whole family for occasions.
After her retirement, Gwen had more time to devote to family. She took particular joy in watching her step-grandchildren grow into solid and successful adults and was so excited to welcome great-grandbabies into her life.
Gwen held vast knowledge of ND history and the parks system. She enjoyed reading and never stopped learning. Her love of history and historical research developed into a focus on genealogy. She uncovered a vast amount of information tracing the lineage and history of most of the branches of her family's various "trees." Her dedication to family history and the knowledge and information she shared will live on through generations to come.
The family was devastated when Ed died in 2008. Gwen continued to live on her own until 2014 when she moved to MN to live with her daughter. Gwen passed away peacefully in her sleep on June 10, 2022.
Gwen is survived by her daughter, Marya (Mary) White (Apple Valley MN), her sister, Norma Simon (Phoenix, AZ), step-children, Arnold (Nancy) Leno (Bismarck), Calvin (Jeannie) Leno (Tuttle, ND) and Eileen (Daryl) Rosenau (Bismarck), seven step-grandchildren; twelve step-great grandchildren; as well as, nine nieces and nephews.
Gwen is preceded in death by her husband Robert White; son, James White; daughter-in-law, Gail (Score) White; husband, Edwin Leno; her parents and two nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to a charity of choice.
Go to www.weigelfuneral.com to read the full obituary, sign the guestbook and share memories with her family.