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Obituary: Leona Marie Kurtz Messenger

During a family visit in Delaware, Leona died of a heart attack on Jan. 3, 2012 while peacefully sleeping.

Leona was born at home, Aug. 18, 1934, to Edward and Leona Hollman Kurtz in Allentown, PA. A beautiful “honey-blonde haired” child, she won local children’s beauty contests starting at age 4, thus attaining her “forever” nickname of “Honey.” In fact, throughout her adult life many new friends would ask to call her by this endearing nickname, as it so aptly reflected her sweet nature. She was educated in New York City and pursued a career on Wall Street with the brokerage firm, White, Weld & Company.

Leona became Mrs. Albert Clay Messenger on April 27, 1968 in a ceremony performed at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Manhasset, celebrating afterwards at a restaurant converted from a barge, called The Barge on Long Island Sound. This setting was to be the beginning of her life on the water as “first mate.” Imagine a non-swimmer overcoming her fear of the water to enjoy the “sport” of boating! Their excursions in their Boston Whaler the Honey II included overnight stays in the middle of Long Island Sound and journeys to Mystic, CT, and beyond.

A dedicated racing fan of 43 years, Leona annually attended the renowned Indy 500 Race where she and Al were honored with special awards by The Race Car Fan Club of America for their attendance and contributions to auto racing. After Al’s passing in 2003, Leona continued trips to “Back Home in Indiana” and began hosting family members to a special fun Indy 500 Race Week of private and public events. With great enthusiasm she shared with them her experience, knowledge and enjoyment of Open Cockpit Indy Car Racing.

In 1988, Leona and Al relocated to the Mountain Valley Community in Hendersonville, NC.

As those who knew her are aware, Leona lovingly supported and attended to Albert Clay’s diabetes during their journey of 35 years with amazing aplomb. After Al’s death, Leona chose to remain in her beautiful home, thus entering her stage of a “woman of independent means.” She enjoyed the friendship of her Mountain Valley friends, especially her “Lunch Bunch” gatherings and all the other neighborhood activities; Leona was gratified to take her turn as the community’s social chair.

In this age of email, Leona was unique in corresponding in long-hand with many friends her entire life. Every Christmas card, over one hundred, contained a note as well.

Leona was an “Anglophile.” She relished everyone and everything British, their country and culture. Al and Leona celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with a barge trip on the Thames and visited her 20-year-long pen pal Reggie in Scarborough. She again “crossed the pond” in 2005 to attend a wedding in Birmingham, afterwards touring The Dales.

She is survived by her sisters, Elizabeth and husband Steven Carlson, Patricia and husband Van Langley, brother-in-law Ernest Messenger and wife Maria, nephew Edward Carlson and niece Catharine Carlson Reddy. Leona’s funeral service and interment (alongside Al) was officiated by the Rev. Stuart Huntley (St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church) in Port Washington on Jan. 18, 2012.

Her family wishes to share Leona’s “words of wisdom” which she conveyed to them at the end of every telephone conversation and correspondence: “Enjoy each day, each other and be good to each other.”