Leland J. Shonka

Leland J. Shonka

Leland J. Shonka

Cedar Rapids

Leland J. Shonka, 91, of Mesa, AZ passed away peacefully on Friday, May 10, 2024 in Phoenix, AZ.

Leland, fondly known as Lee was the son of Joe and Tillie Shonka, born on July 15, 1932 in Cedar Rapids, IA. He graduated from Wilson High School in 1950 and married Frances (Simkavitz) on June 9, 1951. Lee and Frances celebrated 59 years of marriage. Frances passed away in April 2011, just two months before their 60th Anniversary.

Lee, who will be missed by many, was a determined, motivated hard worker. When he was a young boy he delivered two newspapers a day —The Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Des Moines Register—and collected for them on Fridays.

Growing up, he played football and worked as an usher at The Paramount Theater. After high school, Lee learned how to create blueprints and worked as a Draftsman, creating garage and custom house plans for Heabel’s Lumber for nearly 28 years. In addition, he had his own company with partner and loyal friend Robert Driscoll – together they planned and built 105 homes in Cedar Rapids.

Lee and Frances moved to Arizona in 1986, where he worked for True Value Homes, drawing plans and building custom homes in Flagstaff, Prescott, and Cottonwood until his retirement at age 70.

Lee and Frances were members of All Saints Catholic Church in Mesa, where he was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus. He was the “Donut” and “Spaghetti” guy – always ready for a smile, laugh or hug. Lee and Frances enjoyed the K of C members while attending dinner theater, parties, and golf outings. After Frances passed, the Knights of Columbus members included Lee in all their social gatherings and membership responsibilities over the years – providing Lee much joy.

For over 25 years, Lee was an active member of the Apache Wells Men’s Golf League. It is here he made a Hole in One! He made genuine, fun, and thoughtful friends there.

Lee fiercely advocated education, had a positive attitude, and encouraged “going for” what you wanted in life. He attended all the children’s and grandchildren’s undergraduate and graduate school graduations. He always strived to give his children a better life.

In addition to his love of faith, family, football and golf, Lee loved to travel. Lee and Frances frequently traveled from Iowa to Florida, California, or Arizona with their five young children in the station wagon—or by motor home in later years. The adventures and memories of visiting Disneyland and Disney World were a gift of a lifetime he gave his family. They attended many college and professional football games and bowl games and played golf courses around the country. Lee also served as security in the corporate box seats for 15 years at the Phoenix Open Golf Tournament. One of his favorite golf trips was playing golf at Pebble Beach for his 75th Birthday. Lee and Frances also traveled to Hawaii and Ireland for special occasions.

In recent years, Lee traveled to Rome, toured the Vatican and attended mass with Pope Francis, and on to London to see the musical “Phantom of the Opera,” to Venice for a Gondola ride, to Prague for a dinner cruise under the St. Charles Bridge and have a proper Czech Kolach pastry and to Tuscany for wine tasting.

His wife, Frances, parents, and brother predeceased him. His memory will be forever in the hearts of his five children Dan (Peggy) Shonka, Debra (Richard) Shonka-Barta, Christy Shonka, Carol (Eric) Wentworth, and Nancy (David) Padberg, as well as his ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, his sister Patricia Thomas as well as his nieces and nephews.

Lee was passionate about Catholic and collegiate education for his children. In place of flowers, donations may be made to Catholic Education Arizona at https://ceaz.giftlegacy.com/, or to the St. John Cemetery, in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Celebrating Lee’s life in Mesa, AZ and Cedar Rapids, IA:

• Thursday, May 16 – Queen of Heaven Mortuary, Mesa, Arizona Rosary 4:00 pm with Viewing 4:30 – 7:00 pm

• Friday, May 17 – All Saints Church, Mesa, Arizona Funeral Mass/Luncheon 10:00 am

• Monday, May 20 – Brosh Chapel and The Avacentre, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Rosary 3:30 and Viewing 4:00 – 7:00 pm

• Tuesday, May 21 – St. John’s Cemetery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Burial 11:00 a.m. with luncheon following.

Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.broshchapel.com.

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