Member since: 1952
Hometown: Harper, Iowa
Leon Leinen was born and raised in Harper, Iowa, and has been a long-term member of the Knights of Columbus since joining in 1952. This year, Leinen celebrates 69 years of being a Knight.
With 12 years of education taught by Catholic priests and nuns, Leon graduated from Saint Elizabeth Catholic School. Leon went on to St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, where he studied finance.
After two years of education at St. Ambrose, Leon was drafted into the military. He completed his weeks of training and attended daily Mass while he was stationed in Oklahoma. Leon was asked to further participate in the Church as the Chaplain’s Assistant and accepted. Leon was able to assist for about eight weeks before he received orders to head overseas to Formosa (now part of China) and was stationed there for a year.
Once Leon served his two years in the army, he and his wife Rose were married two months later and recently celebrated 63 years of marriage. After Leinen’s return, the two began farming and raised five children together.
“We lived very close and very bonded as a family,” Leon says. “Our motto was ‘we pray together, we work together and we play together.’”
“We taught our children the work ethic on the farm, there was always something to do. They all went to the Catholic school in Harper, Iowa,” Leon says.
The Leinens have been blessed with five children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. After all the Leinen children graduated college, they made their way to the Des Moines area for work. Two of the Leinen sons and two son-in-laws are a part of the Knights of Columbus.
Leon’s father and two older brothers were both active Knights in his community encouraging Leon to become a Knight from an early age.
While in Harper, Iowa, Leinen served two terms on the Windthorst Council (1457) as Grand Knight and in both terms Leon made Double Star Council.
Leon was very involved in his council before moving to West Des Moines. The Leinens sold their farm and moved to West Des Moines in 2006, where they joined St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
Now as Leon has gotten older, he has stayed involved by attending meetings after nearly 70 years of being with the Knights of Columbus and 41 years as a fourth degree member. Leon always enjoyed being in the honor guard and was very involved in his younger years.
Leon has enjoyed the friendships he has made throughout the years of being a Knight. “If I ever needed help, I know I could ask one of my brothers and they would be on my doorstep,” Leon says.
“Join the Knights of Columbus, they are your closest friends, they are always willing to help and they are true examples of Catholicism,” he says. “I have never felt anything but true kindness from any of the members from the Knights of Columbus councils I have belonged to.”