Schmitt, Leona Rosenberger (1910-1991)

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Leighton & Leona Schmitt in January 1988. Family photo.

Leona Rosenberger Schmitt: Mennonite Central Committee Ontario Cutting Room manager at its time of peak activity. Leona was born in Guernsey, Saskatchewan on 20 March 1910 to Isaiah Rosenberger (15 August 1867-1 November 1949) and Perceda (Shantz) Rosenberger (25 June 1870-9 May 1938). She was the second youngest of eight children: Bessie, Ada (Hawes), Chester, David, Mary (Kehl), Clista, Leona and Alda (Gascho). The family attended Sharon  Mennonite Church where Leona was baptized as a teenager. She married Leighton Schmitt (27 March 1905-12 February 1995) from Alberta on 12 December 1929. They had two daughters, Verdella and Ruby. Leona died 26 October 1991; Leona and Leighton are buried at First Mennonite Church in Kitchener.

Farm life was hard and in 1940 the young family “escaped the ravages of the Saskatchewan dust bowl” to farm west of Kitchener, Ontario. They attended Geiger (now Wilmot) Mennonite Church where Leona led singing and taught a boys' Sunday school class (and played baseball with them, wearing a skirt!). She was always active in the Women's Mission and Service Auxiliary (WMSA) at the local level. A source of joy and fulfillment for Leona on the farm was providing a home for school-aged foster children for several years. The family moved to Kitchener and First Mennonite Church in 1955.

In 1942 Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO) purchased a cutting machine which sliced through many layers of fabric, cutting hundreds of garments for women's groups to buy and sew. They returned the finished clothes for MCCO to send abroad. Cutting Room volunteers also shipped out hundreds of “Christmas bundles.”

Leona's part-time volunteering at the Cutting Room during the “Christmas bundle rush” in 1960 continued. In 1964, having completed five years as the Ontario WMSA treasurer and a business course at Kitchener's Lougheed College, Leona was a good fit to take over management of the Cutting Room. She regularly travelled to Toronto to purchase bolts of fabric from wholesalers, a task she never imagined as a farm wife.

For a decade, Leona brought competent leadership to her position as manager of the Cutting Room, newly located at 187 King Street along with the Golden Rule Bookstore, but she was ready to retire when the call for its products declined. Its program had peaked during her decade of leadership. She also inspired her daughter, Ruby, to serve with MCCO. Ruby accepted the position of receptionist and secretary to the director in January 1972, eventually becoming a partner in administrative leadership until she retired in 1999.

Ruby says her mother “loved life” and had “a sense of call to contribute to MCC work,” which she did with dedication and excellence for many years.


"Leona Rosenberger." Waterloo Region Generations. Web. 24 April 2013.

Marr, Lucille. The Transforming Power of a Century: Mennonite Central Committee and Its Evolution in Ontario. Kitchener, Ont: Pandora Press, 2003.

Schmitt, Ruby. Interview by author. Kitchener, Ont. (17 April 2013).

Author(s) Ferne Burkhardt
Date Published April 2013

Cite This Article

MLA style

Burkhardt, Ferne. "Schmitt, Leona Rosenberger (1910-1991)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2013. Web. 30 Jun 2022.,_Leona_Rosenberger_(1910-1991)&oldid=96354.

APA style

Burkhardt, Ferne. (April 2013). Schmitt, Leona Rosenberger (1910-1991). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 June 2022, from,_Leona_Rosenberger_(1910-1991)&oldid=96354.

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