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The Villages
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Iona Fay Saunders

Iona Fay Saunders
Iona Fay Saunders

Iona Fay Saunders
September 8, 1926 – March 31, 2024

Iona Saunders, 97, of Oxford, Florida, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 31, 2024.

Iona Fay Leeman was born on September 8, 1926 in Maine Township in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. She was the fifth of nine children born to Minnie Elvira (Nelson) and Milton Ross Leeman. Iona attended country school, District 120, and then high school in Underwood, Minnesota. She married Sanford Raymond Saunders, who also grew up in Otter Tail County, on October 21, 1945 at the Maine Presbyterian Church in Maine Township.

Iona and Sanford had four children, Sandra, Richard, Trudy, and Bonita. The family lived in various locations in the United Sates and Europe where Sanford was stationed in the Army. Tragedy struck on the night of December 23, 1964 when Sanford was killed in a single vehicle auto accident near Shelbyville, Indiana while he was returning home from Army maneuvers. In early 1965, Iona moved her family from Indiana to Fergus Falls, Minnesota to be close to her family. Iona then lived in Fergus Falls for 55 years until late 2019.

Iona took a job with the Otter Tail Power Company in Fergus Falls in 1969. She worked for Otter Tail Power for 22 years and retired in 1991. She was married to Lyle Vernon “Vern” Danielson from 1971 to 1984.

Iona was very family-oriented, and was known for her unique sense of humor and fun-loving personality. One of the great joys of her life was hosting get-togethers for family and friends at her lake cabin on Pickerel Lake. She also enjoyed sewing and gardening, and playing cards, Scrabble and other word games.

Iona grew up attending the Maine Presbyterian Church. While living in Fergus Falls, she was a member of the Federated Church. Through the church, she volunteered for many years at the Food Shelf. She also volunteered at the Pioneer Care Center in Fergus Falls for over ten years.

In 2017 Iona began spending some time in Florida during the winter, staying with her daughter Sandi and Sandi’s husband Doug in The Villages. In early 2020, she took up full-time residence at Mission Oaks Assisted Living in Oxford, Florida.

Iona is survived by two sisters, Shirley (Leeman) Long of Dublin, Ohio, and Inez (Leeman) Messer of Minnetonka, Minnesota; by three children, Sandi Oman (Doug) of The Villages, Florida, Ric Saunders of Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and Trudy Saunders (Will Buttner) of Portland, Oregon; by seven grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren, and twelve great-great-grandchildren; and by three step-children, Dean Danielson, Debbie Kinneberg, and Bonnie Anderson.
She was preceded in death by her parents Minnie and Milton Leeman; by her husband Sergeant Major Sanford Saunders; by her sisters Leitha (Leeman) Eliason and Myrna (Leeman) Saunders; by her brothers Lyle Leeman, Mark Leeman, Bernard Leeman, and Bill Leeman; by her daughter Bonita (Saunders) Glasoe; and by a grandson Stuart Tyler Saunders.

The family would like to thank the staff at Mission Oaks Assisted Living, and Cornerstone Hospice for their compassionate care of Iona during her last days and weeks.

Interment will be at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota. A Celebration of Life will be planned for a later date.

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