Leona Helen Jirak of Boise died at St Luke’s Hospital in Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, following a stroke. She was 86.
Leona was born the daughter of Anton and Helen Kupka in Crete, Neb., on Aug. 9, 1929, the youngest of three daughters. She was a member of the Crete Sokol and took part in gymnastics, dance, drama and music.
She and her sisters, Dorothy and Lenora, sang traditional Czech songs in three-part harmony at numerous events.
Leona attended Doane College in Crete, where she obtained her teaching certificate and taught in western Nebraska. She met her future husband, Edwin Jirak, of Ord, Neb., and the two young Czech descendants were married July 24, 1950, just before Edwin was deployed with the United States Navy Reserve.
Leona and her husband loved to dance and sing, and she was invited to sing for Ray Pearl and his orchestra until he found out she was too young.
The family moved to Meeker, Colo., in 1966, and Leona earned her bachelors degree at Western State College.
She taught music at the Meeker Elementary School for 19 years and gave private piano and voice lessons at her home. She also directed the Meeker Methodist Church choir. She also founded and directed the Meeker Community Choir and served on the Community Concert Board.
Leona and Edwin retired to Boise in 2000. While there, she sang with the Whitney Women’s Chorale, the Hymns of Thanksgiving choir, and the Chancel Choir at the Cathedral of the Rockies.
Her prized possessions included her grand piano and authentic Czech costume.
Leona is survived by: her husband, Edwin; three sons, Jim of Boise and Tom of Lafayette, Colo., and Jana of Lansing, Mich.; their spouses, Sue Rhodes, Susan Graber and Karen Hackett-Holoweiko; her sister, Dorothy of Beatrice, Neb.; and several cousins, nieces and nephews. She is also fondly remembered by loving friends and former students.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015 at the First United Methodist Church in Boise. Cards and condolences may be addressed to: E.A. Jirak, 3488 S Minuteman Way, Boise, Idaho 83706. The family suggests that memorials be in the form of contributions to the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa or contact www.ncsml.org.