Leah Mast: Belvue
Leah Olga Mast
BELVUE-Leah Olga Mast, 99, of Carlotta, California, formerly of Belvue, Kansas passed away Friday, September 14, 2012 in Fortuna, California. Leah was born in Wabaunsee County, Kansas on January 28, 1913, the last of the seven children of William and Minnie Uhlrig. Minnie died when Leah was only 10, leaving her with a melancholy that remained with her for the rest of her life. She was sent to boarding school in Hebron, Nebraska, then Salina, Kansas for the next eleven years, forgoing her fourth year of college at Marymount and dreams of becoming a music teacher to marry Kenneth Leon Mast of Belvue in 1934. They traveled by train to Chicago for the World’s Fair for their honeymoon. Their only child, Carol, was born in 1938, and at age three she learned to sit on the piano bench beside her mother and pick out the melodies to popular songs that Leah would play. Thus began Carol’s lifelong love of music, and she was able to entertain her mother with those same songs many decades later when Leah moved to California to live with her daughter.Leah was a consummate homekeeper. She waxed hardwood floors on her hands and knees, wore out a wringer washer in twenty-five years and was presented with a new wringer washer for that wedding anniversary. She was the undisputed piecrust, noodle and dumpling queen of her family and did what she could to keep greeting-card manufacturers in business. She was a loving and devoted mother, writing letters and sending care packages to her daughter wherever she happened to be living. Leah and Kenneth enjoyed Colorado nearly every summer of their 41 years together. Most vacations were spent at Arrowhead Lodge in the Cache la Poudre Canyon where Kenneth would catch the trout that Leah would cook on the wood stove. Toward the end of Kenneth’s life they bought a mobile home in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas where they loved spending their winters with former Louisvillians Joe and Helen St. John. They were getting ready for their trip south when Kenneth died suddenly and unexpectedly in November of 1975.In 1978, dear friends Joe and Dorothy Straub set up a blind date for Leah with widower John Habluetzel, then of Louisville, but much earlier of Green, where he and Kenneth in their late teens had proved that two cars could indeed meet on a particular bridge without touching each other. John was not about to let this woman get away so he courted her for the next twenty-three years. They enjoyed traveling, driving all the way to California twice and flying out numerous times. They were regular church-goers and visited younger people in nursing homes a lot. John’s four children and many grandchildren provided Leah with the opportunity to be a surrogate grandmother, a role she relished and performed with grace and love.When John died in 2001 life slowed again for Leah, and when she gave up driving at 92 she was persuaded to make the big move to California, leaving behind all she had known in Kansas for redwoods, ocean, and mountains not entirely unlike those in her beloved Colorado. In California she rekindled her love of music by attending many concerts by world-famous artists, orchestras and dance troupes. The staff at Humboldt State University were always delighted to see her arriving. Although Leah enjoyed relatively good health for most of her life, it was not entirely free of hospital visits, which became more numerous as time went on. In 2009 she suffered a fractured femur which frequently signals a long recovery, but after three months in a nursing home and some excellent physical therapy she was back on her feet obsessing over the two cats she had come to love. It was a blood dyscrasia and congestive heart failure that finally took her from us on September 14, 2012. She will be buried in Greenwood Cemetery, up the road a mile or so from the home in which she was born. She leaves behind her daughter Carol, several nieces and nephews and several great- great- greats. Preceding her in death were her parents and siblings Henry and Harry Uhlrig, Lena Arand, Lula Jukes, Lorene Holvorson and Lucille Ungeheuer.A graveside service for Leah will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, September 21, 2012, at the Greenwood Cemetery, southeast of Belvue. Memorials are suggested to the Wamego Senior Center and may be left in care of the Stewart Funeral Home of Wamego, PO Box 48, 66547. Online condolences may be left at http://www.stewartfuneralhomes.com/.