Jean M. Leighton
Mother of Bob ’79, Mary Jo ’80, Judy ’84, Jeff ’88 and Lynn (SJP Board of Regents)
Grandmother of Kristin Leighton ’07, Rebecca Leighton ’11, Alex Abdella ’13, Max Abdella ’15, and Emma Leighton ’22
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 18, 2019 at Church of St. Augustine in St. Cloud for Jean M. Leighton, age 93 of St. Cloud who passed away peacefully at the family cabin on Lake Melissa in Detroit Lakes, MN on July 9, 2019. Reverend Scott Pogatchnik will officiate. A private burial will take place at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Little Falls. Family and friends may call between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17. Friends and family may also visit from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 AM. before the funeral mass. Both the wake and the funeral will take place at the Church of St. Augustine. Funeral arrangements were made by Benson Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN.
Jean’s charming life began on April 24, 1926 in St. Cloud, MN at St. Raphael’s Hospital. Her parents were Russel Mesenburg and Susan (Rassier) Mesenburg. She met Alver G. Leighton at a football game in October of 1950 and after he promised her “roses now and Rosepoint later,” they were married on April 7, 1951 at the Church of St. Augustine. They were married for 61 years. Jean and Al began their lives together in Elk River. They moved to Brainerd where Al worked in radio then moved to Detroit Lakes where he became a manager. In 1975 they made their home in St. Cloud purchasing KFAM radio and changing the call letters to KCLD.
Jean graduated from Tech High School in 1944. She received a scholarship to the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN and graduated with a nursing degree. She originally aspired to earn an engineering degree but was discouraged from majoring in engineering because as a female she would not ever be hired! She never regretted becoming a nurse. She continued with her education and earned a certificate in Public Health. Her first job as a public health nurse was at the VA hospital in St. Cloud, but Jean wore many hats. In addition to nursing, she volunteered at County Stearns, Birthline and at St John’s Prep School-teaching Bridge to prep students. In addition, she managed the Radio City Music Mall and ran a travel agency, but most importantly she was a loving mother to her nine children.
Jean was a woman with strong faith and she passed her faith on to her family whom she loved dearly. She also loved playing Bridge. Jean learned to play Bridge when she was ten and in 1969 she passed the love of the game on to her children teaching them how to play bridge one summer at the lake. She also enjoyed traveling with the family taking trips to Washington DC, CA, SD and FL. In later years she traveled to Germany, China, and Israel. In the fall of 2016 at the age of 89, she traveled to Italy and five days later she took off for England to see the Leighton Castle.
She is survived by her children; Michael Leighton (Patty) Grafton, ND, Michele Rosha (Ken) Little Falls, Patty (Doug) Kress Eau Claire, WI, Kathleen Leighton Carton (Andy Vinson) St. Cloud, Lynn (Bill) Schnettler, St. Cloud, Robert (Lydia) Leighton Foley, Mary Jo Leighton (Todd Abdella) St. Cloud, Judith (Roger) Kading Moorhead, and Jeffrey (Beth) Leighton Detroit Lakes, 25 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren; sister Harriet (Verland) Bedford, Eden Prairie; and brother-in-law, Dick Walsh, Concord, CA.
Jean was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Al in 2012; grandchild Jonathan James Leighton; infant grandson James Michael Leighton; and sister, Lucille Walsh.
Jean was well-loved and will be missed by all. In lieu of flowers, donations to one of Jean’s favorite organizations would be preferred: ELEVATE: Pregnancy & Family Resource Center (formerly Birthline), St. John’s Prep theater dept., or Boys and Girls Club of St. Cloud.