Leona Grace Decoteau, age 84, formerly of Wanakena, passed away under the loving care of her family and Hospice on March 9, 2011 at the Maplewood Nursing Home in Canton where she has resided for the past year.
Calling hours will be at French Funeral Home, Edwards on Saturday, March 12, 2011 from 2 – 4 and 6 – 8 p.m. Her Celebration of Life service will be held at the Edwards United Methodist Church on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Burial will be in the Wanakena Cemetery in the spring.
Leona was born on November 6, 1926 in Elmdale. She was the daughter of the late Guy Robert and Bertha Louise Dailey Smith. She attended the Elmdale local school and graduated from Gouverneur High School.
Leona married Peter Walter Decoteau on December 31, 1945. The couple lived in Star Lake from 1953 – 1962. They bought and restored the burned out Wanakena Coffee Shop and operated Decoteau’s Grocery there in Wanakena from 1962 until 1982. Mr. Decoteau passed away on August 10, 1988. Mrs. Decoteau had previously worked as a clerk for Kaplan’s Department Store in Gouverneur and as a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times and the Gouverneur Tribune Press. She had also ran a yarn shop for several years.
Mrs. Decoteau was known as the Wanakena community mother, answering to “Ma” and “Mrs. D.” She was well enjoyed by the Wanakena Ranger School and spoke at their 1980 graduation ceremony. In her free time, Leona enjoyed keeping in touch with friends and family through her computer, watching and dancing to the area fiddlers’ groups and square dancing. She loved her winters in Lady Lake, FL and was a former Girl Scout Leader, Sunday School Teacher and was licensed in code ham radio. She has a long family history of selling Avon products along with her sister and her daughters. Leona was a member of the Star Lake Presbyterian Church and the Women’s Presbyterian Organization of Wanakena and Star Lake.
Her survivors include her son, Dale Decoteau and his soul mate, Mary Manchio of Pitcairn; her three daughters, Melanie and her husband, Larry Kring of Hammond, Jeanette Dovel of Russell and her companion, Art Zehr, and Carol Lee Whitmore of Russell; and eleven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her parents; her husband, Peter; her brothers, Robert and Leon Smith; and her sisters, Eva Blair and Mae Langto.
Donations given in memory of Leona may go to Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley or the Edwards United Methodist Church.