Leona Theresa Besecker June 26, 1927 ~ Dec. 24, 2019
Leona Besecker peacefully passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 92. Born Leona Theresa Jagata on June 26, 1927, the sixth of seven children of Charles and Caroline (Rys) Jagata, Leona grew up on a farm in Corry, Pennsylvania.
Leona married World War II veteran Peter “Pete” Rezzelle in 1948, and they settled into married life in Corry. Sadly, when Pete suffered a sudden heart attack, Leona became a young widow with three very young children. A strong and resilient woman, Leona pursued a career in cosmetology and moved to Kane, PA where she owned and operated several hair salons, first with friends/business partners, then as a sole proprietor, to support her family.
Leona married again to Ray Besecker of Kane and had two more children. However, the marriage ended in divorce and, in the early 1970s, Leona and her two youngest children moved to California where her older sister, Regina, and eldest daughter, Karen, lived.
Leona settled in the Los Angeles area and undertook several vocations while raising her children as a single mother. She obtained her California cosmetology license and worked on and off in her much-loved profession for many years, even owning and operating a beauty supply store in North Hollywood, CA. Additionally, Leona studied real estate at Los Angeles Valley College and obtained a realtor license, and later a broker license. She also studied taxes during this time and would work as a tax consultant and preparer for much of the rest of her life.
Although she experienced hard times and spent much of her life working in her various professions, Leona also loved to have fun, laugh, gather with family and friends, and engage in many leisure activities. Leona was a talented seamstress, knitter, and crocheter, and she delighted in gifting her children and grandchildren with her creations. She enjoyed many other creative activities, as well as word- and jigsaw puzzles. She was a wonderful and adventurous cook and baker and she even self-published (typing individual copies herself) a cookbook for family members which included favorite recipes passed down through the generations.
With the last of her five children successfully raised to adulthood, Leona moved to Merced, CA in the 1990s, where her eldest daughter’s family now lived. There she continued to work, enjoy her creative pursuits, and spend time with family and friends at a slower pace. She later moved to Nevada, again following the path of her daughter, and lived the last decade of her life in Genoa, Gardnerville, and finally coming to rest in Reno.
Leona was preceded in death by all of her siblings, Regina, Andrew, Frank, Judy, John, and Mary.
A strong, resilient, creative, adventurous, fun-loving matriarch, Leona will be deeply missed and forever remembered by her family: children Robert Rezzelle (Mary), Peter Rezzelle (Linda), Karen Rezzelle Holmes (John), Randall Besecker (Mary Jean), Melissa Besecker; grandchildren John Rezzelle, Holly Jo Rezzelle-Crowley, Connie Rich-Cota, Candace Supiran, Ryan Rezzelle, Pamela Rezzelle, Steven Rezzelle, Hayley Besecker, Logan Besecker; great-grandchildren Heather Ybarra, Katelyn Simeone, Connor Crowley, Jenny Lynn Crowley, Alex Rezzelle, Jackson Rezzelle, Amelia Rezzelle, Mia Rezzelle; great-great-granddaughter Emily Collier; and many nieces and nephews who fondly knew her as “Aunt Lee.”
Memorial and remembrance services will be private.