Leland A. McMillen Profile Photo

Leland A. McMillen

February 8, 1931 — June 11, 2023

Leland A. McMillen

 

1931 - 2023

Leland Ardell McMillen passed away June 11, 2023. He was very much loved by his wife Cleo and daughter Heide.

As a persistent optimist, throughout his life Leland expected, and found, something good in every day and trusted that things would always work out well.

He was born February 8, 1931, in Spring Grove, MN, the first of five children. Leland grew up in Mabel where his parents owned Mac's Coffee Shop and worked there making malts and doing dishes when he was young. In high school he excelled in sports - playing baseball, basketball and football. He did less well in French. His teacher said he was the only student who spoke French with a Norwegian accent. After graduating he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1953 he married Cleo and they were great partners - both on the dance floor and in life. They had wonderful years together, built on shared adventures and love. Marrying her, by his own telling, was the best thing he ever did. He worked for the railroad for a time and then went to college to become a teacher. He taught elementary school in Alpha, MN and Rochester, MN, and was principal in Owatonna, MN. After earning his Doctor of Education in 1968 from the University of South Dakota, he became a professor in the Education Department at Winona State University, retiring in 1996. 

Leland was very sociable and the first thing he asked upon meeting someone was "Where are you from?". No matter where the person came from, before long they discovered something in common.

For fun he tore down old barns and houses that the owners wanted demolished and then salvaged the lumber and stone. This was not always easy or safe work, but fortunately he fell through a roof only one time. He enjoyed projects with wood and sawing logs at Mabel Steam Engine Days and attributed his affinity for wood and stone to his Norwegian and Scottish heritage.

He was quick to offer help to others. Whether it was lending tools, building a shed or doing a bit of landscaping, he was generous with his time.

Leland had a natural curiosity about the world and making plans to try something different was one of his hallmarks. Over the years he kept bees, acted the part of Scrooge in a play, developed black and white prints in his darkroom, laid the stone on the front of his Winona home - mixing the cement by hand, and organized a tour to the Soviet Union in the 1980's. Together he and Cleo planted over 10,000 trees on their land.

It was typical to see Leland with a book in his hand. He read a lot, studying WWII history in particular. Eating breakfast out was his idea of a good start to the day, especially when it included conversation with friends and drinking lots of coffee.

Before his memory loss he delighted in being active outdoors, running off to estate sales in search of bargains and stopping by the bakery on his way home.

We will miss the sense of adventure he brought to each day and his open-hearted and good spirit.

Survived by his daughter Heide (Jay) Epstein and sister LeaEtta (Richard) Osmundson.

Preceded in death by his wife Cleo; parents Leland and Agnes McMillen; brothers Lowell and Larry; and sister Laurel Jane.

Visitation will be held at the Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home, 376 E. Sarnia St., Winona, on Thursday, June 22, 2023, from 4 PM until 6 PM.  Visitation will also be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hart, MN, on Friday, June 23, 2023, from 10 AM until the funeral service at 11 AM.  Pastor Ryan Eden will officiate. A private burial will be held at a later date.

Online condolences or memories may be left for Leland’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.

 

 

 

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Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, June 22, 2023

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Central time)

Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home

376 E Sarnia St, Winona, MN 55987

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Friday, June 23, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church - Hart

31497 MN-43, Rushford, MN 55971

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Friday, June 23, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church - Hart

31497 MN-43, Rushford, MN 55971

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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