Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Obituary ~ Liza (Meleney) Despenas
August 16, 1997 ~ March 28, 2009

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
March 30, 2009

DES MOINES - Liza (Meleney) Despenas, 41, of Des Moines, died Saturday (March 28, 2009) surrounded by her loving family, at the Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at the First United Methodist Church, 119 S. Georgia Ave., Mason City, with the Rev. Jim Stiles, officiating. Interment will be in Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today, Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at Major Erickson Funeral Home, 111 N. Pennsylvania Ave., and continue one hour prior to the church service.

Memorials may be directed to the Liza (Meleney) Despenas memorial fund in care of the family.

Liza was born on Aug. 16, 1967, in Mason City, the daughter of Lee and Barb (Tschirki) Meleney. She was baptized and confirmed at the First United Methodist Church in Mason City.

Liza graduated from Mason City High School in 1985 and attended North Iowa Area Community College. Liza worked for Midwest Construction for several years. She also ran a day care from her home.

She was very fond of children. She was caring and giving to others. Liza was united in marriage to Paul Despenas on April 27, 1991, at the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Mason City. To this union two beautiful daughters were born. Alexa Lee is a senior and Alaina Marie who is in the eighth grade, both in Johnston.

Liza loved being on the drill team for four years.

She enjoyed dancing, reading, talking on the phone, exercising, and eating healthy. Liza loved to have fun. Her family and friends were important to her.

She is survived by her parents: Lee and Barb Meleney; Paul Despenas; her two daughters: Alexa Lee and Alaina Marie Despenas; two brothers: Tim (Karen) Meleney of San Diego, Calif., and Kory (Nicole) Meleney, of Mason City; two nieces: Kaitlyn and Marah Meleney. She is also survived by her aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

She was preceded in death by her grandparents: Leo and Ann Meleney and Ray and Helen Tschirki.

Major Erickson Funeral Home & Crematory, 641-423-0924.

Major Erickson Funeral Home & Crematory, 641-423-0924. www.majorericksonfuneralhome.com.

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The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
August 23, 2010

In memory of his ‘girls’
Richard Johnson's column

Sleek white clouds line the deep blue sky over Lee Meleney’s backyard.

The colors contrast nicely with those here below.

A garden trellis, wishing well, concrete benches and recirculating water fountain are surrounded by red and pink geraniums and pampas grass.

Soon there will also be a plaque reading: “In Memory of Barbara and Liza.”

Barbara, Lee’s wife of 47 years, and Liza Despenas, their beloved daughter, passed away over the last year and a half.

They are missed.

“I wasn’t gonna spare the horses for ’em, because they were the most beautiful girls in the world,” said Lee, 76. “I can sit out here at night, listen to the waterfall and think about all the memories we had together. They’re all good memories.”

Barbara Tschirki married the tall Marine she’d noticed in 1959 at a high school basketball game between her school, Forest City, and his, Garner-Hayfield.

He stood out, at least partly, because his sister had tinted his hair.

A picture in Lee’s living room shows the smiling crew-cut Marine feeding his bride a bite of cake after their wedding on Feb. 5, 1963, in San Clemente, Calif.

Barbara was a do-er: a homemaker, a Red Hat Lady, a Birthday Club member and a champion for blind persons. She helped form a support group, Friendly Eyes, after she became legally blind.

Ovarian cancer took her this past May 29.

"She was quite the lady,” Lee said. “She was very caring — a sharing person. She’d always put people ahead of her. She was a very loving wife and mother and grandmother. I mean, outstanding. She loved her church (First United Methodist) very much.”

Lee and Barb have two sons, Tim of San Diego and Kory of Mason City.

Their sister, Liza, was a sports fan who played softball and was a drill team member at Mason City High.

She married Paul Despenas in 1991. They had almost 18 years together until lung and liver problems took Liza on March 8, 2009, at age 41.

Lee Meleney said his wife and daughter were “quite the girls.”

“They both loved life, dancing, good television,” he said. “They made me laugh a lot, which is good for the old heart.”

The backyard memorial was built this summer by another ex-Marine, Dave Abbott of Clear Lake.

It actually starts in Lee’s front yard, where flowers line a silver maple tree and a planter holds big green hostas.

He knows just what his girls would say about the additions to his place, which is Marine Corps immaculate.

“They’d say, ‘Oh, Dad, you didn’t have to do all this. We know you loved us,’” Lee said.

“‘But it sure is beautiful, Dad.’”

Richard Johnson writes about people, places and things in the Globe Gazette.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2016



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