Joan Ruth McCain Leeper, 84, left this world Sept. 10, 2018. Joan was born May 10, 1934, to Clarence Reynolds McCain and Reba Ruth Wood McCain at Phillip, S.D., where her father’s banking career had taken the family at the time. She attended public schools in Spearfish, graduating from high school there in 1952. She married her high school sweetheart, William (Bill) R. Leeper on Nov. 1, 1952. They were happily married for 57 ½ years and deeply dedicated to each other until Bill’s passing on May 8, 2010.
Joan was initially a homemaker, raising their three young children in Bill’s early years as an educator. After Bill’s short stints teaching in Custer, and Bremerton, Wash., the family arrived in Powell, Wyo., the summer of 1961. Here, Bill taught both junior and senior high school science and math for the rest of his career. Once the children were older, Joan became a part-time librarian at the Northwest College Library, a position that allowed her to work and still maintain the same school calendar as Bill and her children. She held that position for the next 25 or so years until her retirement.
Joan and Bill had a wide and vibrant circle of friends in Powell with whom they shared many good times and adventures. Together they enjoyed camping, fishing and many of the other outdoor activities so abundant in the area. Joan had a life-long love of music and art. She never allowed her arthritis to keep her from her artistic pursuits and was always learning new things. Tole painting was one of them, and she produced many beautiful pieces using that technique. Having interrupted her college learning and degree for marriage and family, she returned to college later in life and completed a bachelor’s degree when she was in her 50s. Retirement ultimately took them to Sun City, Ariz., where the dry climate and heat helped Joan’s lifelong battle with arthritis. After Bill’s passing, Joan moved back to Powell in 2014 to be nearer family and friends. At the time of her passing she resided at the New Horizons Care Center in Lovell, Wyo.
Joan is survived by her three children: Craig Leeper (Bev) of Wapiti, Wyo, Howard Leeper of Rock Springs, Wyo., and Janet Gilstad (Cliff) of Corvallis, Mont., six grandchildren: Ryan (Mia) Leeper of Pismo Beach, Calif., Ken (Jennie) Leeper of Reno, Nev., Carl (Joanna) Bennett of Rock Springs, Wyo., Steve (Amanda) Bennett of Rock Springs, Wyo, Roxanne Wagner (Thomas Crane) of Corvallis, Mont., and Brandy (Kevin) Kraatz of Darby, Mont., 10 great-grandchildren, her sister Lynn Kieser of Sun City, Ariz., nieces, Pam Konz and Bonnie Green, nephew Mike Kieser and their families. She was preceded in death by husband Bill, her parents, and brother-in-law Robert Kieser.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial service was held at the Union Presbyterian Church in Powell on Sept. 28, 2018. Joan’s ashes will be laid to rest next to Bill’s in Rose Hill Cemetery at Spearfish, on Thursday, July 18, 2019 at 11 a.m. There will be an informal graveside gathering of family, friends and classmates at that time to share memories and pay tribute to her.
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