Leah Dryden was a big-hearted woman who was famous for her delicious Italian meals which she lovingly prepared for her treasured family. She worked hard throughout her life but viewed caring for her family to be her most important job. Leah enjoyed many interests throughout her lifetime, but playing Bingo with her husband topped her list. Although life was not always easy for Leah, she persevered through times of trial with just the right amount of graceful strength.
Times during the twenties were prosperous in the United States with plentiful jobs and industries that were expanding on numerous fronts. It was for these reasons and many more that the “American dream” was alive and well. Anthony and Rachel (Fumaio) Loguercio were a young married couple who left their homeland in Italy in search of making their dreams come true in America and they settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They were filled with joy beyond measure when after they settled, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Leah, on February 16, 1927. Leah was actually raised as Leah Logue since her parent’s name was changed when they settled in the states. She was the oldest of five children in her family and was raised in the family home amongst a close-knit community in the Italian Third Ward of Milwaukee. Leah attended Jackson Street School and then Lincoln High School. Throughout her years in school, she was an average student who enjoyed school dances.
It was at Lincoln High that Leah met a young man who would forever change the course of her life. His name was Walter Keller and they were married soon after high school, in 1945. The couple soon began their family with the birth of their son Anthony in 1946 who was quickly followed by their daughter Patricia in 1947. Their family was complete a bit later with the birth of their son Greg in January of 1951. Although their marriage ended in divorce in 1953, Leah was forever blessed by the children that were a result of their union.
As a single mother Leah worked hard to support her family, predominantly as a waitress in various restaurants. Although work obviously kept her busy, Leah still made time to establish numerous precious memories with her children. Her children fondly recall family picnics and traveling north a bit to spend some vacation time at different cottages. The times they spent at Pike Lake located in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods are among some of their favorites.
Life took a fateful turn for Leah when she and a friend, Jean Stever, ventured out to start their own restaurant. They opened The Shadow Box on Holton Street in Milwaukee which would also set the stage for Leah to meet the man with whom she would share many fulfilling years. While socializing at the restaurant one day, Leah met a man named Thomas Dryden. A romance soon blossomed between Leah and Thomas and they were married in 1969. The couple moved into a home on Dousman Street, and a short time later Leah left The Shadow Box. Leah and Thomas were so excited to be blessed with the birth of their son Paul in 1971. It was then that Leah decided to turn her focus to being a homemaker full-time for both her husband and their son.
There were several interests that Leah enjoyed through the years, many of which centered on caring for her family. She loved cooking and having family over on Sunday afternoons and especially Christmas Eve to enjoy an Italian feast. Leah and Tom found great joy in baby sitting for their grandson Jackson as an infant and toddler, they tenderly referred to him as “Sweet Pea”, a name that has remained with him through the years. Leah also enjoyed sewing, often making clothes for Paul or tending to the mending for her other children. She even liked crocheting and created sweaters, socks, hats, and afghans for family and friends. Gardening was another activity that Leah took pleasure in, as well as having her hair and nails done. Leah loved talking on the phone with family and friends and could always be counted on for giving you her honest opinion. She enjoyed drinking coffee all day long and always had to have “something sweet”, she adored watching Wheel of Fortune and rarely missed a show, but her most treasured activity became Bingo. Thursday was always Bingo night for her and Tom, often at the nearby churches or at one of the local casinos.
Later in life Leah experienced some life changing events. She began developing some health problems and when diagnosed with emphysema, she quit smoking. Her need for oxygen limited her activities as well. Her beloved Thomas’s death on January 19, 2003 was understandably a difficult time for her too, that is why she kept her Christmas Tree up and decorated, it became a unique comfort to her, one that remained with her until her final days. Leah was a fighter, living with emphysema and diabetes for many years. She amazed her family by bouncing back many times. On October 13th of this year, Leah was admitted to Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital after suffering from severe back pain. She was then diagnosed with leukemia, the disease that would ultimately take her from this world. She did not die alone, she drew her last breath surrounded by the family she so dearly loved.
There are a few times in life where one is blessed to know a woman who is both strong and graceful at the same time. Leah Dryden was such a woman who was so special to a great number of people within her reach. She took what life gave her and created something beautiful out of not only the more joyous moments, but the more difficult ones as well. Leah enjoyed a diverse palette of interests throughout her life, but first and foremost was always caring for her family. She was a delightful woman who will be so greatly missed by all those she leaves behind, but has also left a piece of her with everyone she has touched.
Leah M. Dryden died on October 19, 2009. Leah’s family includes her children: Anthony Keller, Patricia Keller, Greg (Barbara) Loguercio, and Paul (Debra) Dryden, her grandchildren, Anthony Keller, Nicole Keller, Beth (Shawn) Ganser, John Carlson, Tiffani Loguercio, Jackson Dryden and Mitchell Dryden, great-grandchildren: Jordan, Samantha, Amanda, Alec and Sol, great-great-grandchild Olivia, siblings: Tony (Mary) Logue and Isabel Logue, as well as other relatives and friends. Leah was preceded in death by her husband Thomas in 2003, and her siblings: Rocco Logue and Joseph Logue Visitation Friday, October 23 at Wisconsin Memorial Park – Chapel of the Chimes 13235 W. Capitol Drive Brookfield, WI from 9:30 a.m. until time of the Funeral Service at 11:00 a.m. Arrangements provided by Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss (414) 276-5122. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or sign her online guestbook.