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Leanora Maude Cannon Houwen, 1939–2023

Thursday, June 13, 2024
Leanora Maude Cannon Houwen, 1939–2023

If you knew Leanora,

you would know these three things about her. First, she loved the Lord. Second, she loved her family and friends. And last, she loved all things Texas and was the most proud Texan.

Leanora Maude Cannon Houwen was born on August 18, 1939, the only child of Charles Weldon Cannon and Donalita Scott, in Spur, Texas. In her early childhood, she often lived with her maternal grandparents. She was an outgoing child who loved spending time with her daddy in his saddle-making shop. After Leanora’s parents divorced, her family grew with the addition of her stepmother, Grace, and two stepbrothers, Kenneth and Bill, as well as her stepfather, Bob and stepbrother, Mike.

Leanora married her high school sweetheart, Gary Gregory. They first had Arlette and Naqiba, both born in Texas; a set of twins who died at birth in Nebraska; and Frank, who was born after they moved to California following Gary’s radio career. Leanora enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, but also liked helping others as a Red Cross volunteer nurse and spending time with her Beta Sigma Phi sorority.

Leanora was often a single parent until she married Jim Phillips in 1970, when they bought a home in Reedley, California, and established roots in the community. In Reedley, she worked in administrative assistant in various offices and as a cashier at Table Supply Market. She also enjoyed taking classes at Reedley College, where Jim worked, and she took pride in her studies.

Leanora married a third and final time in 1987 to Herm Houwen, who had a daughter, Rhonda, and son, Chris, from a previous marriage. With Herm, Leanora had her dream cowboy wedding at her family friend’s parents’ home in Sanger. After her parents died, she and Herm moved back to Dickens, Texas. In 2014, Herm died, and brokenhearted Leanora moved back to California in 2017 to be closer to her children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. All in all, Leanora documented 6 states and 38 addresses where she resided.

Leanora played the violin, and she loved to crochet, travel, cook, and play board games, especially cribbage. She loved celebrating holidays and watching the Cowboys play. Leanora was a proud member of Beta Sigma Phi where she served as the Pacific Central Coast president and made lifelong friends. She loved dressing up and participating in their skits and event planning. In Texas, Leanora was active in her church and the senior center, and even served as mayor pro tem of her town. But Leanora’s greatest love was for her family, past and present. She did extensive ancestry research to record and passed along family history. And she didn’t let a visit go by without coating her loved ones in sugar, a.k.a. her kisses and hugs.

In her final week, it was discovered Leanora had stage 4 cancer. She chose to focus on love and peace, and enjoyed the many hospital visitors she had during her short hospital then hospice stay. Leanora died peacefully surrounded by loved ones on August 10, 2023 at the Heritage Crossing Care Center in Clovis, California.

Leanora’s life was celebrated on what would have been her 84th birthday, August 18, 2023, at Stephens and Bean Funeral Chapel in Fresno, California, with the service led by Reverend Gil Bremseth of the Sun Garden Church of Christ. She is survived by her children, Arlette Ito (and husband Daniel), Naqiba Gregory, and Frank Gregory; stepchildren Rhonda Von Tillow (and husband Mark) and Chris Houwen (and wife Misty); 12 grandchildren; and 8 great grandchildren.

Leanora’s wishes for burial in her hometown are being honored this month. Family and friends are welcome to attend the Sunday morning service at 10:30 a.m. on June 23, 2024 at Highway 70 Church of Christ (Spur, Texas) with a shared meal to follow at 11:45. Her ashes will be buried with her husband Herm’s next to her parents in the Dickens Cemetery at 1:00 p.m.