MILES CITY — Leona Alice Vetter, age 74 of Miles City, passed away on July 13, 2014, with her son at her side at Holy Rosary Extended Care. She fought a brave battle with cancer.
Leona was born on April 14, 1940, along with twin brother, Leonard. They were born in Dodge, N.D. She was the daughter of Arthur (Pa) and Catherine (Voltz) Peterson. She was the eighth child of 13 children. She grew up and completed her education in Dodge, N.D. Leona moved to Billings at the age of 15 to live with her sister, Josie. She became a part of their family while working at the American Stratigraphic Center until she met and married Harlan “Red” Haydal. They were married on May 2, 1959. To this union they were blessed with son, Gregory. Leona’s greatest joy was being a stay-at-home mom where they shared many memories hunting, fishing, playing cards and being together. In later years, she was a waitress at the Muzzle Loader Café.
After she and Harlan divorced, she later married Pius Vetter and moved to Miles City, where she waitressed, cooked and eventually managed the Innovation Café, until she became employed at the Flying J restaurant. It was here she spent several years waiting tables and building relationships with her regular customers. She enjoyed meeting people and listening to their stories. She never thought anyone should go hungry, and often, she would buy meals for those who were passing through or for those who she knew were falling on tough times. Customers enjoyed cutting cards with her to see who was buying supper. For a short time, Leona worked as a volunteer at the Holy Rosary gift shop. “Grandma,” as everyone called her, enjoyed anything to do with meeting people, and she is known by strangers, family and friends for her extreme generosity and her practical jokes. She would give you her last dime, the shirt off her back, and protect you with vigilant prayer, but she would never let you win a game of cards. Even after she fell ill, it was hard to beat her at a game of cards!
For years, she enjoyed hunting with her son and his family. She cheered everyone on when they caught a fish or harvested their game. She was a good shot, herself, and could shoot from the hip and hit her target. It was more fun to watch her catch a fish than to catch one yourself! There were no greater times for her than calving season, when she lived to work side by side with her son, Greg, feeding the crew, forking hay, and playing cards while keeping a watchful eye on the heifers. After countless years of calving seasons, it still excited her when a calf would hit the ground. It was as if it was the first calf she had ever seen born. Her excitement for life and living in the moment was a gift to all of us.
For all these years, she lived each day for her family, was overly proud of her grandchildren and loved each one unconditionally. It is with great sadness that we have released her to the arms of Jesus, whom she knew well and talked to often.
Leona is survived by her son Greg (Mary) Haydal of Miles City, granddaughter Nicki Haydal and grandson Ty Haydal; brothers Walter Peterson (Yvonne), LeRoy Peterson, Stanley Peterson; her sisters Helen Wentz, Josie Albright, Marion Stuber, Geraldine Kvarness, Janet Anderson and Rita Davis; numerous nieces and nephews; and special friend, Dorothy Egosque, who together with Leona kept volumes of score sheets to document wild card games at the Eagles Manor. A special friendship formed with Pam Hurr, RN, who lent special care and devotion as a nurse and close friend.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Jim and Leonard Peterson, her sister Ruby Bouma, and granddaughter Cassie, whom she finally can hold once again in Heaven.
Family will receive friends on Thursday, July 17, at Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home from 4 to 6 p.m., followed by a Rosary at 6 p.m. and prayer service at 6:30 p.m. Mass of Christian burial will be held Friday, July 18 at 10 a.m. at the Sacred Heart church. Rite of committal will follow in the family lot of the Custer County Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to Erin’s Hope Project.