Leonard Pietras - October 1, 1922 - February 15, 2012
by Frank Faron
(Indian Head Park, IL)
"He said he lived a full life"
Leonard Pietras was born in Chicago on October 1, 1922. He went to Assumption BVM grammar
school at 122nd and Parnell, and lived his youth during the depression. Because of the scarcity of jobs his father Frank worked away from home in Fort Wayne Indiana, and he would only see him on weekends. It was probably, because of this that he built up a character of independence and self reliance.
Leonard later went to Weber High School and to the Illinois Institute of Technology to study Chemical Engineering, but after only two years in college he was called to war. He served honorably from March 15, 1944 to April 20, 1946. Upon returning, Leonard went to work for a gelatin company in Calumet City - Wilson Foods and later DynaGel Incorporated/Gelita USA.
Although Leonard considered marriage a couple of times, he remained single all of his life. He fulfilled his need to nurture by being an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 721 at the parish he grew up in. He was a loving uncle to two nephews, Joseph and Frank who were also part of that scout troop.
Leonard showed Catholic roots throughout his life. Every Sunday he attended mass, sang in the choir for much of his early adulthood, and was a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus. Leonard was an avid hobbyist having carved a number of boy scout neckerchief slides, painted plastic models, and dabbled in miniature furniture. He was also a collector of coins and stamps.
When Leonard retired, he decided to travel. He had already been to Poland, Italy, and Hawaii, but wanted to take more exotic trips so he went to the Holy Land, Egypt, China, Indonesia, and Alaska with the Smithsonian. Eventually his wanderlust faded, and he moved to a home he built for himself in New Lisbon Wisconsin which is just north of the Wisconsin Dells.
Despite the distance Leonard always remembered his family. At Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas he would return to the Chicago area to visit. In between, his sister and youngest nephew would travel to his house to help with the chores, and treat him to dinner and a movie. This past Thanksgiving and Christmas marked his last visit to Chicago. He had some health issues, but was in great spirits and seemed to be happy to return home. His condition however took a turn for the worse, and on February 15, 2012 he succumbed to a stroke, pneumonia, and a bad heart, He told some people before he died, that he was proud of what he had accomplished during his life.
The final chapter was another trip to Chicago for a wake, Catholic Mass, and burial. Because of his age many of his friends and relatives were no longer around or could not attend because of illness. He was however, well remembered. Those that did come helped ease the pain of the greiving family. The church service at Saint Cletus in LaGrange was wonderful with a talented choir singing 'Ave Maria' and 'Panis Angelicus'. Leonard always enjoyed going to Latin Mass. The psalm 'Shepard Me Oh God' was also sung. Readings were from the book of Wisdom and the first epistle of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians. Two verses sum up the day:
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God"
"Do not grieve like the rest who have no hope for God will bring with him those who have fallen
asleep along with those who still remain in Jesus".
The family then proceded to the cemetary where the body was laid to rest with representatives of the military playing Taps in honor of his service to country. A fitting tribute to a full life.