Leonard Walter RifeJanuary 16, 1924 ~ July 28, 2017 (age 93)
Leonard Walter Rife passed away on Friday, July 28, 2017, at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa. He was 93 years of age.A public visitation will be held at Henderson's Highland Park Funeral Home in Des Moines on Thursday August 3rd, 2017, from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Friday August 4th, 2017, at the Basilica of the St. John in Des Moines at 10 a.m. Mary E. Rife will receive guests at Ramsey Village, also in Des Moines, following services in the Banquet Room on Friday until 5:00 p.m.
Born January 16, 1924, in Des Moines, Iowa, he was the first of thirteen children born to Lucile (Davidson) Rife and Leonard Rife. He attended elementary school at Visitation Catholic School and later graduated from East High School. After graduation, Leonard enlisted in the United States Army and fought with distinction during World War II. He was among the first African American Infantrymen to fight with White Americans in Lieutenant General John C. H. Lee’s (Eisenhower’s deputy Commander) enlistment of African Americans in Europe. Leonard was promoted to Corporal and received many recognitions and medals. He was awarded four Overseas Service Bars, American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon, three Bronze Battle Stars, Good Conduct Medal and a World War II Victory Medal. He was named Knight of the Legion of Honor, as decreed by the President of the French Republic for his “…valorous action during World War II.” After several re-enlistments, he was honorably discharged for the last time in 1950.
After leaving the Army, he returned to Des Moines and began working for Solar Aircraft until the company closed. While there, he met Mary (McDaniel) Rife and they married on July 14, 1956, with whom he recently celebrated 61 years of marriage. He began working as a letter carrier for the United States Post Office in 1960 and was later promoted into management. During this time, he continued his education and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Drake University where he also studied for the Masters’ program. In 1986, he retired from the Post Office and began working part-time for Sears Roebuck. He was also a member of the National Letter Carriers Association (#322 and #352).
Leonard enjoyed playing tennis and bowling but was a voracious history enthusiast. He was an avid reader and could be counted on to know at least a little bit of something about just about everything in history. Even in his final hours, he wanted to make sure he had a newspaper near.
He leaves to cherish his memory: his wife Mary E. Rife; sisters Doris Lucas, Sandra Porter and Joan Bundy; brothers James “Jimmy” Rife and Gene (Phyllis) Rife; children Brenda G. Welch, Debra L. Knox, Janice M. Lintz (Vincent) and Pinkie Odessa Peake (Michael); grandchildren Jona Knox; Adrien Rice, Aaron Knox, Brandon Dodd, Shayla Knox, Angela Lintz, Niema Peake, Devon Welch, Tamera Peake and Isaac Lintz (McKayla); great-grandchildren Kiarra Rosenberry-Rice, Shabir Knox, Kizmet Knox, Bailey Criswell-Dodd, Tamia Dodd, Nickaylah Peake, Jordan Knox-Byrd, Tiana Dodd, Leo Lintz, Asher Rice, Imogen Rice, Davion Welch; great-great-grandchild Lizanna Billie-Rice.
Preceding him in death are his parents Lucile and Leonard Rife; his sisters Sarah Katheryn Mumford, Gwendolyn Bryson, Jeanette Freeman and Patricia Lee; his brothers Marion Rife, William “Butch” Rife and Donald Rife; his children Arthur Derby and Della Dickson; Great Grandson Brandon Gully-Dodd.