Obituary of Leonard Paul Edstrom
Leonard Edstrom (Len); 80 yrs old, of Prairie Farm, WI died peacefully on Friday, October 6th, 2023 with his wife and two daughters by his side. He was born in Luverne, MN in 1943 to Raymond & Dolores. He was the 3rd of 8 siblings who grew up in St. Paul, MN. He spent many of his summers working on his Aunt & Uncle’s farm in South Dakota alongside his cousins Brigid, Kay & Leo.
Lenny later settled in the Twin Cities with his wife LeeAnn and their daughters Chrissy & Caitlin while running his own roofing & siding company for over 35 years. He had a tough exterior, but was one of the most kind and caring souls. He loved dogs and secretly loved cats. The Edstroms had a plethora of both over the years– Len once even took home a stray kitten that he saw someone kick down a flight of stairs. That cat became a family pet! He’d never admit he liked the cats much, but he definitely did! His love of Minnesota sports teams also ran deep– Surprisingly, that wasn’t what took him, despite the pain many of us feel trying to be Vikings fans. So he spent much of his time LOUDLY cheering on his daughter’s sports teams where he was more often than not, their coach.
The Edstrom family’s early years were spent on the East Side of St. Paul where they met Willie & Debbie Smith who happened to have kids close in age to his two daughters. The two of them often coached Chrissy, Caitlin, Hannah & Somorae’s (Willie & Debbie’s daughters) softball and basketball teams. Some of the family’s fondest memories are with the Smith family next door… They were good friends with a big rivalry– Willie was a diehard Chicago Bears fan. He & Lenny often taunted one another when the other team was losing… Picture 30-some year old men making faces through their neighbor’s window at each other. I have no doubt they’re BS-ing together right now! The families have stayed in touch over the years… Somorae & Hannah really saw Len & LeeAnn as their second parents (and the feeling was mutual). We all hit the neighbor-jackpot.
Lenny also really had a passion for his motorcycle!! His then-teenage daughter Caitlin loved to ride on the back of his Harley. Len even started teaching her to ride in the Plaza Theater’s parking lot. She didn’t stick with it, but his wife LeeAnn learned, and the two of them LOVED riding together. He REALLY enjoyed that LeeAnn took to the bikes, and the two of them made lots of memories while racking up the miles. Many Sunday mornings were spent enjoying brunch at Neumann's in North St. Paul before they’d hop on their bikes for a ride through Taylors Falls, Cannon Falls, Lake City, Red Wing and more– Stopping for small adventures along the way and picking up a few favorite lunch spots like The Harbor Bar and Brookside Bar & Grill. They’d stop back at Neumann’s for a Dr. Pepper & Diet Coke before heading home to cook dinner. Even after he hit a patch of sand and was hurt while riding, it sure didn’t stop him from hopping back onto his bike! He LOVED that Harley and loved even MORE that his wife could ride her own Harley. Once, outside of The Goat in Taylors Falls, a man came out and said to her, “Nice bike for a girl.” To which Len quickly replied asking the man how many miles he had on his bike. (It sure as shit was less miles than LeeAnn had!) Len also had a passion for skydiving. He spent many-a-summer weekend riding his bike to Baldwin, WI and jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. LeeAnn and Len’s daughters (plus a friend or two) would watch from the ground. But one year, Len and his daughter Chrissy celebrated her 30th birthday with a skydiving trip together! He really loved to be able to share that with her, and what a kick-ass man he was, jumping out of airplanes at 70-years-old!!
Lenny played hard, but boy did he work hard! He ran his own roofing & siding company for 35+ years. In that time, he acquired coworkers that turned into lifelong friends & family. Greg & Brenden were there for just about every moving day that Len, LeeAnn AND their daughters went through. Len also would often take on house projects like building a kitchen extension + deck at their old house on the East Side and then another deck with a screened-in porch at their house in Maplewood. Len really took satisfaction in his job because when it was finally all done, he could step back and look at the result of all of his hard work– work that likely was done with lots of colorful language– and admire the finished product. He was amazing at what he did and his long-running business showed that!
After their daughters grew up, Lenny & LeeAnn decided to look for some open space in the country. They landed in St. Croix Falls, WI for a few years where they both eventually retired to focus on themselves, their two daughters and three grandchildren. In February of 2022, they found their dream home with some acreage, woods, privacy and quiet in Prairie Farm, WI. Their house is, quite literally, across the field from LeeAnn’s sister & brother-in-law. Lenny was so proud of how far he and his family had come over the years. He worked hard in those subzero, freezing temps as well as sweltering hot temps year after year. Now, they could enjoy some time to relax and have their kids & grandkids over to play in their massive yard…. And cleanup all the sticks which was portrayed to them as a fun game so Amma & Umpa could get the mowing done!
Their kids & three grandchildren might not exactly be relaxing, but they sure are big parts of what made up Lenny’s heart. His first granddaughter, Harley, was named for the DC Comics character and also gave a special nod to Len (and LeeAnn)’s love of their motorcycles. Next came his grandson Dominic. They would roughhouse together and I am unsure which of them loved it more!! Last came his granddaughter, Luciana. She really had a special love for Len and was immediately drawn to him from the time she was tiny. He took a lot of pride in his grandkids and loved watching them learn & explore. You could see in the smile on his face how much he loved them. And truly, how much those kids love him back. When Harley was learning to talk, she couldn’t say Grandpa correctly, and would call him “Umpa” (Uhm-puh), and LeeAnn became “Amma” (Ah-ma). Those nicknames stuck and Lenny & LeeAnn are now solely called Amma & Umpa. All three of those grandbabies absolutely had their Umpa wrapped around their tiny, sticky little fingers while he’d slip them dollar bills and treats every chance he got!
In the late Spring of 2022, Lenny was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. It was a difficult road that felt long, but ultimately was a rapidly-moving disease. In the months after his diagnosis, Lenny spent most of his time with his family, making memories and enjoying their dream home. He enjoyed boat & train rides with his wife, kids, his son-in-law Adrian and his grandkids. He spent time with his brother Ronny and sister Carol, along with some old friends and neighbors. Lenny watched his grandkids run, jump and excerpt endless amounts of energy that he (and we all) envied. There were sleepovers & movie nights with breakfast feasts. Many-a-steak dinners grilled up by his son-in-law Adrian– It was one of his favorite meals. Len also felt very honored to have Adrian request his daughter Caitlin’s hand in marriage. To which Len replied, “No, because you don’t need my permission.” Adrian insisted he did indeed need his permission. And so he got it. Len could be intimidating, but if you earned his respect, you’d definitely feel good about it!
Lenny lived a BIG life. He had a big presence with a big, mean muggin’ facade wrapped around a big ol’ heart. He was a loving husband, father, Umpa, brother, son, friend and just generally a great human. If you could manage to get past that tough guy exterior, he was the BIGGEST teddy bear and would do absolutely anything for you. Lenny & LeeAnn helped provide the strength and knowledge, along with an always colorful vocabulary to create a solid foundation for their kids & grandkids to continue to build upon for years to come. We will miss you so much, Dad. But we’ll never forget you. Love you!
He is preceded in death by his parents Raymond & Dolores and siblings John, Raetta (Larry) Wolfe, Judy, Dick and Patrick. He is survived by his wife LeeAnn, daughters Chrissy & Caitlin (Adrian), his three grandchildren; Harley, Dominic & Luciana, as well as his siblings Carol (Larry) Gustafson and Ronny (Colleen) Edstrom.
Visitation/Celebration of Life to be held on Sunday, October 29th, 2023 at the Casey Lake Park Building in North St. Paul, MN from 11am–2pm. Any and all are welcome to stop by– Open house style. Enjoy some food, beverages, good company or just bitch about the Vikes/Packers game that will be on… Because that’s surely what Lenny would be doing.
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