Leona Willadell 'Binks' Radcliffe
Thu, 08/21/2014 - 6:00am News Staff
Leona Willadell Radcliffe (known to all as “Binks”) passed away at the age of 96 on Aug. 14. Born at the family dry-land farm near Belle Fourche, S.D., on April 16, 1918, Binks was the youngest of the family of six daughters and one son. Her father, John Boone, was a stonemason, and her mother, Hattie, a homemaker and masterful seamstress. Binks exhibited early one of the major values of her life — that of friendship. Photo albums of her young adulthood are filled with memories of picnics and great outdoor times with friends. As a school child, Binks and her classmates donated their pennies to Gutzon Borglum’s monumental project in the Black Hills granite of Mt. Rushmore. After high school, Binks worked as a bookkeeper for a furrier in Rapid City. It was while boarding at the Black Hills Inn in Rapid City that she met a handsome young range conservationist and forester, and she and Art Martin began a courtship by riding throughout the Black Hills and beyond on Art’s Indian motorcycle. Binks and Art were married on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941, and welcomed their two children — Jim, in 1945, and Nancy in 1949. Art’s career, first with the Soil Conservation Service and then with the Forest Service, took them to Sturgis and Custer, in the Black Hills, then on to Dubois, Wyo., Gunnison and Delta. Binks was a wonderful homemaker and gifted hostess, which came naturally through her love of people and her culinary skills in the kitchen. Binks loved to sing — especially harmony — and she and Art could both be seen (and heard) in church choirs throughout the various towns they called home. They both learned to play bridge and spent countless happy hours at a table with cards, friends and laughter. She was an accomplished seamstress, like her mother, and kept her lucky daughter in custom-made outfits, including her wedding gown. After Art retired in 1971, the couple moved to Moab, Utah, where they loved exploring the Canyonlands country and showing out-of-town friends the different world of Utah. Binks thoroughly enjoyed singing in the local Sweet Adeline Chapter there, served on the Hospital Board, and was always involved in bridge groups and church activities. Binks lost the love of her life on Dec. 25, 1979, and with her customary strength of character, carried on and created a new life without Art, welcoming more grandchildren throughout the years. She married Fred Radcliffe, a long-time friend hers and Art’s, in 1989, and they shared many outdoor adventures and good times until his death in 1995. Binks returned to Gunnison to be near her daughter and family, where she immediately renewed old friendships and made new ones, including her PEO sisters and bridge partners. She spent her last years at “My Fair Ladies” in the loving care of Sharon Colson. To the very end, she expressed gratitude to Sharon for her wonderful care and good cooking! Binks was preceeded in death by her husband, Art Martin, her second husband, Fred Radcliffe, her son, James Martin and son-in-law Ray Ruehle. Surviving are daughter Nancy (Ray) Ruehle, grandsons Joel (Lyndsey) Ruehle, Alex (Marisa) Ruehle, Grant (Jessica) Ruehle, daughter-in-law Billie (Jim) Martin, grandchildren Lori (James) Efird, Jason (Michelle) Martin, and greatgrandchildren Gabriella Efird, Aidan Efird, Sebastian Martin, Sage Ruehle and Knox Ruehle. A memorial service will be held at the Community Church on Friday, Aug. 22, at 3 p.m., followed by a reception downstairs. Cont r ibut ions in Binks ’ memory may be made to the Six Points Building Fund, 320 S. 14th Street, Gunnison, CO 81230, or to the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley’s Grant Fund, P.O. Box 7057, Gunnison.