Reverend Leonard Cuthbert Claxton, 96, passed away on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, at Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin.
He was born on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1923 to Cuthbert A. and Mary H. (Jones) Claxton of Superior, Wis. Len was the seventh of nine children born to English immigrants, and was always charged with taking care of his younger sister. He grew up in Superior, Wis. with hobbies of photography and building model airplanes. He also enjoyed playing in a professional harmonica trio. Not long afterwards, he joined the U.S. Marines becoming an active duty communications corpsman rising to the level of Corporal in WW II. He served from 1942 to 1946, but never saw combat while deployed in the Pacific arena.
After an honorable discharge from the service, he took training to become a railroad telegrapher with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad making good use of his training in the military. Eventually, he lived in Hadley, Minn. right across the street from the Gamble family, just a block north of the depot where he worked.
Leonard and Shirley (Gamble) were married in April of 1948 and soon started their family. After 20 years with the railroad and while raising a family of four, Leonard began studying for the Episcopal priesthood. He was ordained in 1966 and his first parish was Grafton, N.D. Over the course of the next 50-plus years, Rev. Leonard Claxton served churches in North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota. His last parish being in Cloquet, Minn.
Len and Shirley then decided to move south for their retirement; all the way to southern Minnesota where Shirley’s extended family lived nearby. They bought a small farm and divided their time between gardening, mowing, hosting family reunions and providing Sunday services as requested by area churches. Len continued with hobbies started over the years including wood carving and other building, working with their assorted collection of rocks of all description, even faceting of precious jewels.
Leonard’s final home was here in Aitkin at the River’s Edge Assisted Living after spending a couple of years at Goldfinch Assisted Living in Fairmont, Minn., where he and Shirley spent their time after moving off the farm.
Leonard was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley; his parents; sisters, Emily and Florence; brothers, Wm. Harold and Edward “Ted”, and granddaughter Angela.
Leonard is survived by one sister, Dorothy Webster, Superior, Wis.; daughter, Beverly (Mencer) Johnson, Aitkin; son, Donald, Pepin, Wis.; grandson, Brian (Mary), great-granddaughter, Emily, Greely, Colo.; daughter, Jacquelyn, El Paso, Texas; granddaughter Carrie (Ted) Schuster; great-gransdsons: Wyatt, Grayson, Boden, Missoula, Mont.; granddaughter Audrey (Derek) Miller; great-granddaughter Darcy; great-grandson Ryan; great-granddaughter McKenna, Post Falls, Idaho; granddaughter Julie (John) Hartman, Lancaster, Calif.; granddaughter Katie Saunders; great-grandson, Nathan, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; son John (Cathy), Billings, Mont.; granddaughter, Erin, Wheaton, Ill.; grandson Evan, Missoula, Mont.; several nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.
Services were held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Aitkin, on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 at noon. Reverend Randy Wellsand of St. Cloud presided and organ music was provided by Terry Hoopman, Moose Lake. Interment will be in the Highland Home Cemetery in Hadley, Minn. in southwestern Minnesota, at a later date.
Sorenson-Root-Thompson Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Aitkin assisted Leonard’s family. www.srtfuneral.com.