Harriet Leath passed away on March 5, 2019. She died peacefully at her home in Huntington Beach, California, with her step-children and brother at her side, after bravely fighting cancer for over two years. She was 73 years old.
Harriet will be cremated and then buried in the same grave as her husband, Bill, and alongside her son, Nicholas Leath, at the Good Shepard Cemetery in Huntington Beach, California. Dignity Memorial of Westminster, California, is in charge of the cremation and burial, with private memorial later this month.
Harriet is survived by her brother, David Friedrichsen, her two step-children, Billy and Leslie Leath and two step-grandchildren, Shauna and Rachel Leath.
Harriet Mary, daughter of Harry and Ruth (Marquis) Friedrichsen, was born in the Wyatt Memorial Hospital in Manning, Iowa, on October 15, 1945.
Harriet attended Ewoldt No. 7 country school with her
brother, from 1950 and 1957, near Manning, in Carroll County, Iowa, along with
many neighborhood children: the Grimm, Lamp, Greer, King, Musfeldt, Rohe,
Hugeback, Brus, and Mathiesen families to name a few. Harriet attended six
months of town school in Manning before Harry sold the farm and the family moved to Harlan in early 1958.
The Grimm kids were over at the Friedrichsen place much of the time and vice versa. They all walked to country school together every day during the school year. Harriet and David were the last in a long line of Friedrichsen kids to attend that school before it was torn down.
Harriet was confirmed at the Zion Lutheran Church in Manning on March 22, 1959.
Since the Friedrichsen family had moved to Harlan, Harry would drive Harriet back to Manning so she could finish classes and be confirmed. David has Harriet's Bible.
Harriet was a very accomplished accordion player. She competed a few times in talent shows before she was a teenager. She will be remembered by the older generations in Manning as the little girl who played that big accordion in Ralph Grundmeier's polka band. They performed every Saturday night in the area for many years.
Harriet graduated from Costa Mesa High School in Costa Mesa, California, in 1964 at the age of 17.
Harriet married Nicholas Pagano in 1965 and their only child, Nicholas "Nick," was born in 1966. They were divorced in 1969. Nick died in a motorcycle accident in 1997. Harriet donated his organs which saved the lives of four other people and gave sight to one blind person.
Harriet married William Ray Leath February 14, 1970, on Valentine's Day, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bill was a child of the Dust Bowl immigrants who came to California from Oklahoma during the Great Depression. Bill met Harriet in Costa Mesa (where she was living at the time) at a house party. Her brother babysat for little Nick that night so she could go to the party…Bill and Harriet fell in love almost instantly. They were married 48 years. Bill passed away November 16, 2018.
Harriet was an accountant most of her adult life except for a few years right out of high school when she worked for a veterinarian as his assistant and secretary. Harriet never formally retired. She stopped working only after she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017 and started chemo. Harriet was very involved with the Donate Life America foundation. She did many "Walk for Life" marathons; one of which was over 50 miles to raise money for the Donate Life foundation. She was also involved with decorating the Donate Life parade float that has been part of the Rose Parade for the past several years. She lived in Fountain Valley, California, from 1970 until 2012. She moved south to Murrieta in 2012 but moved back to Fountain Valley in 2018 to be closer to her step-children.
Harriet's grandparents were Friedrich and Augusta (Thommsen) Friedrichsen, both born in Germany. Her dad, Harry, was one of thirteen children of Friedrich and Augusta.
Harriet's mother, Ruth, was the daughter of Bessie and Wiley
Marquis. She was born in Guthrie Center, Iowa, in 1924.
Harry died in 1979, and Ruth in 2005.
This picture of Ralph was taken many years after Harriet played in Ralph's band, but will give you an idea of what it was like.