Member Since 2004
The year is 1946. Picture a little eatery called Lane’s Cafe, located in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Steve Meade had just returned from military service in the Air Force, working at the gas station next door, dropped in for his midday meal. Josephine (Jo) Leggio was on a lunch break from her attendance at Mercy School of Nursing. That first meeting led to a wedding at local St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (Dedicated on April 25, 1926, the year of Jo’s birth). She remains a St. Patrick’s parishioner and remembers fondly their first long serving priest, Msgr. J. F. Costello. She has witnessed many changes over the years, like the addition of the side door ramp for better access to the sanctuary. Access has remained a problem for the parish. A new church, social hall and parking is currently under construction on the east end of town. When asked what she thought of the relocation project, she simply said, “That’s progress!”
Jo enjoyed her many years as a “floater” Registered Nurse at Mercy Hospital. She was assigned to the floor or section where she was most needed. She worked with all types of patients and in many areas of medicine. She said the best part of being a “floater” was that they were “always glad to see you!”
Jo and Steve were blessed with five children, three girls and two boys. Steve went to work for a carpenter and learned the trade, resulting in a 40 year career as cabinet maker and handyman. He rebuilt their original “two room shack” into a lovely, two story, brick home with 2 large barns housing garages and a second story cabinet shop. Examples of his work with stained glass are everywhere. After 35 years, Jo remains in the family home and the children and grandchildren still putter in Steve’s woodshop when they come to visit. Jo says they are all “good with their hands.” She feels very fortunate that all her children have remained in Iowa and are home for Holidays. She has 14 grandchildren and later this year her great-grandchildren will number 15.
Josephine is the oldest of seven children (90 years of age in October) born of Italian parents. Her mother came to the US at age 5 from Sicily, and her father came over as young man. She had two brothers and four sisters, five of the seven are living and she feels blessed to visit with them regularly.
Jo and Steve’s oldest daughter JoAnn followed her mother into nursing, working for the VNA. Her son Bud was a biology teacher and wrestling coach at Thomas Jefferson High, until his retirement. Her daughter Julie is an x-ray technician. All service professionals.
Jo’s son Tom worked for IBM. Tom has a daughter named Katie who has met “a long, long list of world famous people” due to her involvement with BEST BUDDIES. Katie has Down’s syndrome and attends the annual marathon event of BEST BUDDIES INTERNATIONAL in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. This organization was founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver for persons with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities.) There are 200 million people in the U.S. in need of friendship, jobs and leadership development according to the website, www.bestbuddieschallenge.org. BEST BUDDIES is “dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation” of persons with IDD. Katie is currently paired up with Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots. She has met celebrities from Nelson Mandela to Bono. Katie is also featured in a beautiful painting by David Lenz that was done for BEST BUDDIES. It is a beautifully lit ocean beach scene featuring a smiling Eunice Shriver and several youngsters, one of whom is Katie Meade. The painting hangs in the Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Jo attended the dedication in 2009 and has a small print of the large painting on her wall at home.
After her youngest daughter Patty retired from the phone company, she and her husband opened a gym in Omaha called FIT FARM. Since the opening three years ago, Jo, Mary (her youngest sister) and Rose (her aunt) all go to their gym, at 47th and Nicholas, for Yoga class on Friday mornings. They also use the rowing machines and stationary bikes. These ladies all have an amazing amount of energy and dedication. They attend daily Mass, and they make up a batch of 100 popcorn balls annually for the St. Patrick Festival in March! They are longtime members of the Wednesday Sewing Group at St. Patrick’s. They average 2-3 quilts per week that are donated to Mohm’s Place and other local shelters. They attend the monthly CDA court meetings, help with the annual Salad Luncheon, and as Jo stated “We can pray.” For all the above activities, and more, these ladies have come to be known as “The Three Musketeers” and/or “The Italian Mafia!”
Jo and her sister Mary Roush joined our local CDA Court in 2004 at the urging of now deceased member Ethel Stageman. Jo has Ethel’s recipe for a delicious Jell-o salad that is made with cherry pie filling. She makes the salad every year for the CDA Salad Luncheon in Ethel’s memory. An “arts and crafts person,” a loyal friend, a caring heart and a faithful Catholic Daughter, we celebrate the life of Josephine Meade.
Lord…toward the faithful, You are faithful. Psalm 18:26