Leonette Warburton Wishard, 1927
December 02, 2011
BRIDGEPORT (02/07/2012)—Leonette Warburton Wishard, former overseas missionary for the United Church of Christ and widow of Glenn P. Wishard, died on December 2, 2011, in her residence at The Watermark in Bridgeport. She was 109.
Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on October 11, 1902, Mrs. Wishard was the eldest daughter of James and Margaret McGregor Warburton. Leonette graduated from Lawrence High School in 1919 and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Colby College in 1923. In 1927 she received her Masters Degree in Religious Education from Andover Newton Theological Seminary.
In the fall of 1928 Leonette sailed from San Francisco to the Philippines via Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. In 1928 she was named Director of the Baptist Student Center and Dorm Matron in Iloilo, Philippines and served in that capacity until 1932.
From 1932-1933 Leonette traveled to Singapore, the Suez Canal, and Europe, returning to the United States to spend time with her family and friends at Hedding Campgrounds in Epping, New Hampshire. In 1935 she was named the delegate to the National Christian Council in China. Returning to the states in 1938 she attended Union Seminary and Columbia University Teachers College in New York.
Leonette returned to the Philippines in 1939, where she taught Religious Education at Baptist Missionary Training School and Baptist Seminary at Central Philippine College. During this time she met Glenn Wishard, who was Director of the American and European YMCA in Manila. Glenn and Leonette married in September 1941.
Married just three months when the Japanese took the Phillipines, the Wishards were taken as civilian prisoners and interned separately for 3 years and 3 months. They saw each other only during the day as the men were segregated from the women and children. When freed by American Forces in February 1945, both Leonette and Glenn weighed 95 lbs and were among the first taken by ship to the states.
Upon arriving in America, they first stayed with Leonette’s parents in Lawrence, and spent their summers at the family cottage in Hedding, New Hampshire.
The Wishards came to Bridgeport in the fall of 1945, where Glenn served as assistant to the Rev. Fred Hoskins at United Congregational Church. Leonette worked as a Home Missionary for the Baptist Church in what was then Yellow Mill Village; she taught Religious Education in released time programs in the public school system; was Religious Education Director at the First Baptist Church and then Secretary of Religious Education at United Congregational Church, both in Bridgeport.
After Glenn’s passing in 1956, Leonette went to Athens, Greece, and taught English at Pierce College through the United Church of Christ Board of World Ministries (UCBWM). In 1962, Leonette accepted a teaching position at the American School in Izmir, Turkey, which held a student body of 600. She was then named Dean of Residence and teacher of English at the American Collegiate Institute in Izmir, Turkey, again under the UCBWM.
In 1968 Mrs. Wishard retired and returned to Bridgeport. In addition to traveling twice around the world by ship and to the Philippines, Leonette had visited Japan, China, Thailand, French Indo China, Egypt, Palestine, Iran, and 12 European countries before retiring. After her retirement, her love for travel continued and took her to Canada, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, always returning to her beloved Hedding Campgrounds in New Hampshire.
Mrs. Wishard’s thirst for learning and education extended to her lifetime gift giving to institutions such as her alma mater, Colby College, Union Theological Seminary, Andover Newton Theological Seminary and the YMCA.
In 1978 the YMCA presented Leonette with its Endurance Award. In 2005 the American Association of University Women honored Mrs. Wishard by having a Fellowship Endowment named for her. In 2006 Mrs. Wishard was named ‘Woman of Distinction’ by the Girl Scouts Housatonic Council and in the same year the Connecticut Chapter of the American Association of University Woman named her as its ‘Outstanding Woman of the Year’. In the spring of 2009, Leonette was one of six woman honored by The Watermark for living an extraordinary life.
At her recent birthday celebration, proclamations and congratulatory letters were sent by President Barack Obama, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and, in attendance proclaiming October 11, 2011, Leonette Warburton Day, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. This amazing woman was in good health and had her full intellectual capacities right up to her recent passing. She read the CT Post daily: EVERY word!
She held membership in two book clubs and according to club members asked more questions than anyone else about the current book selection. Until recently Leonette was still knitting and continued taking her meals in Watermark’s dining room on a daily basis as she thought social interaction was important to one’s being.
A lover of books, travel and people, Leonette Wishard’s footprints have been left on the hearts of all her knew her. The family would especially like to extend grateful thanks to caregivers Phyllis Bruno, Patricia DellaVecchia, Elisa Deland, Celia Diemunsch, Cali Odice, and Belinda Young for their love, devotion and gentle care during their time with Mrs. Wishard.
In addition to her husband and parents, Mrs. Wishard was predeceased by her three sisters, Josephine, Lillian, and Arline. She is survived by nieces Margaret Newman of Atlanta, Georgia; Barbara Rappel of Everett, Washington; Patricia Herring of Athens, Texas; her cousin Elizabeth Smith of Barrington, NH; a second cousin Margaret Redhouse of Leeh, NH; as well as step-grandchildren Sarah M. Taylor of Falls Church, Virginia; Douglas McMillan and Gordon McMillan of Sedgwick, Maine; seven great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren.
Friends desiring may make donations in Mrs. Wishard’s name to “AAUW Funds”. Memo section to read: L.W.Wishard Int’l Endowed Fellowship #4236. Mail to AAUW P.O. Box 98045, Washington, DC 20090-8045 or to Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ, Attn: Peter Makari, Ex. Dir. for Middle East & Europe, 700 Prospect Ave, Cleveland OH 44115, please specify American Collegiate Institute in Izmir, Turkey.
Mrs. Wishard’s Memorial Service was held on Saturday January 28, 2012 in the main Sanctuary of the United Congregational Church in Bridgeport.