Willard Leon Maxson, 89, of Creston, Iowa, started his next adventure Saturday, October 3, 2020, surrounded by his loving family.
Leon was born in Edna, Kansas on January 7, 1931, to Lola (Shufelt) and Willard Maxson. Leon loved his wife, children, grandchildren, family, and friends.
Leon lived a multifaceted life and was always looking for the next adventure. He was at his best when he was busy doing most anything, but especially taking pictures. His love for photography started in the Army and continued to be a major part of his life. His camera never left his side! He and Connie were fortunate to visit all 50 states, 53 countries, and he took thousands of incredible pictures of along the way. His photography skills earned him entry into and awards from many exhibits in Missouri and Iowa. He was a member of the Southwest Iowa Shutterbugs camera club, and his photos were on display at many local businesses.
He enjoyed life fully and in addition to photography, filled it by hunting, fishing, gardening, playing golf, riding his old Oliver tractor at the farm in Coon Rapids, tailgating at Iowa State games and he always enjoyed a glass of good Merlot.
Leon’s family was very important to him. Wherever he lived and worked he made sure that he found time to visit with his daughters and son, sharing experiences when they were young and traveling with them when they became adults. Friends were also very important to Leon. Wherever he went he made life long friendships. In recent years the “Creston coffee group” has been like a second family.
Leon was very proud of his military service and it shaped his life. After graduating from Edna High School in 1949, while farming with his father, he enlisted in the Army Reserve in January 1951. In 1953 he volunteered for active duty and was sent to Fort Sheridan, Illinois for training. After basic training he was assigned to the Photography Unit in Fort Carson, Colorado. While stationed at Fort Carson, he went to photography school at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Leon then returned to Fort Carson where he was assigned temporary duty to Camp Hale, Colorado to set up a photo lab and take mountain cold weather training with the 10th Mountain Division. He then was assigned to train members of the 101st and 82nd airborne division. Mountain cold weather training consisted of wearing appropriate clothing and boots, sleeping bag use, pup tents, squad tents, snowshoes, 7-foot wooden skis, and other necessary equipment for survival. Skis were maintained by using blowtorches and tar, and then waxing them. He then returned to Fort Carson to complete his reserve obligation. Leon completed 35 years of active and reserve time and attained the rank of Command Sergeant Major of the 5040 USAR school in Des Moines, Iowa.
After active duty Leon continued his education. He received his undergraduate degree from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas and his master’s degree from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. He served as Director of Photography and Media at both universities. He moved to Iowa in 1969 to teach at South Western Community College for two years. From there he went to Ottumwa, Iowa, to serve as Director of Media and Technology Services in the Joint County Education System that became Southern Prairie Area Education Agency. Leon retired from the Agency in 1997.
Leon is survived by his wife of almost 42 years, Connie Maxson in Creston, Iowa; their son Larren Maxson (DeLee) of Denver, Colorado; five daughters: Vickie Morey, Sheree Howerton, Carolyn Burgess (Jeff), all of Joplin, Missouri; Amanda Bogie (Charles III) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Paige Byers (Matthew) of Sarasota, Florida. Grandchildren: Christopher Howerton (Ashley), Abbey Bass, Matthew Burgess, Tyler Burgess (Kelly), Treyson Morey (Devyn), Alexandra and Cameron Byers, and Ryan and Brett Bogie. Great-grandchildren: Trenton and Makenzie Bass; Brayden, Greyson, and Peyton Burgess; and Gage, Isabella, Alyssa Howerton and Taylor Suarez. Sisters: Jean (JL) Paul of Edna, Kansas; Carole (Charlie) Brown of Grove, Oklahoma; sister-in-law Carol (Joel) Christian of Davenport, Iowa; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Rev. Jodi Rushing of Creston will officiate a Memorial Service at 11:30 AM, Thursday, October 8, 2020 at Pearson Family Funeral Service & Cremation Center, Creston, IA. Military Honors provided by the Creston VFW Post #1797. The family will receive friends Thursday, prior to the service, from 10-11 AM. Inurnment will be held in Edna, Kansas at 1:00 PM, Saturday, October 24, 2020. Memorial contributions may be directed to the Gibson Memorial Library - Capital Campaign or the Creston VFW Post #1797. Memories and condolences may be shared online at www.pearsonfuneralhomes.com.