Leroy Edward Powelka

Leroy Edward Powelka

Leroy Edward Powelka


Leroy Edward Powelka, 94, died Sept. 2, 2022. He was born March 11, 1928, the second child and only son to Manfred Vince (MV) Powelka and Viola Antonette Burda Powelka. He was born on the family farm in Hale Township, Jones County, Iowa, just outside of Oxford Junction. His father’s family had emigrated there from Bohemia in the 1850s.

In the late 1930s the family moved to Maquoketa, Iowa, where Leroy and his sisters attended the schools in the Maquoketa School District. He graduated in 1946 and soon left for Denver, Colo., to attend college to become an architect. Prior to leaving Maquoketa he built his first home at 609 S. Niagara Street, a then-modernistic structure with shed roofs. It was the first tri-level house built in Iowa. Leroy also made furniture in the international style from plywood, a new building material after WWII.

On June 22, 1948, Leroy married Virginia Lee Busch. While they had been in school together, she was one year older, they began their relationship during a band trip to Monticello, Iowa, where Ginny lost her ride home. She ended up riding back to Maquoketa on Leroy’s lap and they started dating after that. They moved to Denver in 1949 where Leroy started his career(s) and the two of them started a family. Together, they had five children while living at 1095 Kipling, Lakewood, Colo., in the second home that he built. It was a concrete block structure with an inverted V roof, known to the family as a “butterfly roof.”

Leroy did not finish college but moved into the work force as a licensed carpenter, a lumber yard employee, a building code official for Jefferson County, Colo., and as a residential designer operating his own firm. He also designed the first structure for Holy Shepard Lutheran Church at 920 Kipling, Lakewood, and the family became very involved in the church activities. Leroy was very spiritual throughout his adult life. Additionally, Leroy placed first out of 30-plus entries for a picnic table design for Mamie Eisenhower’s mother and, as a result, met President Dwight Eisenhower at his Denver White House.

In 1960 the family moved back to Iowa for a short time before proceeding on to Madison, Minn., where Leroy became manager of the local lumberyard, a contractor and ran his own design firm, Hobohemia Designs. They resided in Madison until 1967 when the family moved back to Maquoketa so that Leroy could assist his dad MV, who was critically ill, with his nursery business. He became very involved in the formation of the Iowa Nurseryman Association which was just forming in the early 1970s. He sold the nursery in the early 1980s, built his third home at 17994 Hwy. 64, Maquoketa, Iowa, and operated a precast retaining wall business.

Following his retirement, he and Ginny lived in Camanche, Iowa, Norfolk, Va.,, back to Maquoketa, Mechanicsville, Iowa, and then at Willow Gardens Retirement Center when Ginny started suffering from dementia. After Ginny died in 2016 Leroy lived there through the pandemic, where he was infected twice, and formed a caring relationship with a fellow resident, Julia Primrose.

Leroy was a prolific reader and writer up almost to the end and had a deep understanding of numerous subjects. He always enjoyed sharing humor with those around him, teasing was a forte of his! He was known to share wintergreen mints with anyone who would stop and talk to him. Leroy was a deeply religious man and often provided religious assistance to the Care Center routine. He will be genuinely missed by all who knew him!

Leroy was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Virginia (Ginny); his parents and one sister, Anita Powelka Meade. He is survived by his other sister, Dorothy Powelka Chesney; his five children, Joseph Lee (Diane Dunlavy) of Sun Prairie, Wis., John Charles (Sheila Green) of Ashland, Va., Michael Roy (Joann Strauser, deceased 2020) of Janesville, Iowa, Cindy Lou Storm (Edward) of Sioux City, Iowa, and Alice Hope Hanson (Melvin) of Mechanicsville, Iowa. Between the five children there are 14 living grandchildren, one deceased, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Leroy will be cremated and reunited with Virginia for future internment. Should anyone so desire, charitable donations can be made to UnityPoint Hospice, 1026 A Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402, in recognition of the outstanding service they provided Leroy in his final hours.

A Celebration of Life will be held later this fall at a location to be determined. Leroy’s family would love to hear your stories about Leroy at that time! A date and time will be posted once determined.

Online condolences and memories may be shared with the family at iowacremation.com under Obituaries.

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