Cover photo for Vernice Leslie's Obituary
Vernice Leslie Profile Photo
1923 Vernice 2014

Vernice Leslie

July 25, 1923 — March 14, 2014

Longtime Goodland, Kansas resident Vernice Maurine Degnan Leslie, 90, died Friday, March 14, 2014, at Hillcrest Nursing Home in McCook, Nebraska.

She was born on July 25, 1923, in Scott City, Kansas, the daughter of Olga (Schmitt) and Jesse Gowin.  She grew up in Scott City, Kansas, and graduated with the class of 1941 from Scott City High School.

In 1942, she enrolled in nurses training at Wesley Hospital School of Nursing in Wichita, Kansas.  Upon graduation in 1945, she joined the Army Nurse Corps and served until the end of 1946.  One of the highlights of her days as an Army nurse was assisting in the care of the late General John J. Pershing at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.  Following her tour of duty and later a stint of private nursing duty in Kansas City, she accepted a nursing position a Boothroy Memorial Hospital in Goodland, Kansas, later named Northwest Kansas Regional Medical Center.  An “angel in white”, Vernice devoted thirty-seven years to caring for the sick and serving her community.

In 1950, she and George William “Bill” Degnan were married, and they raised two daughters.  Several years after Bill’s death, she and U. H. “Doc” Leslie were married and they continued to make their home in Goodland.  Doc Leslie preceded her in death in 1987.  Vernice continued throughout her life to serve as a member of the First United Methodist Church, Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, the American Red Cross, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Wesley School of Nursing Alumni Association, American Legion, and various other local organizations. Especially close to her heart were the members of the retired nurses group in Goodland and her Wesley Alumni friends.

Preceding her in death were her husbands Bill Degnan and Doc Leslie; her parents; one brother Royce Gowin; two sisters Lorenn Elrod and her husband Warren; and Glennis Pittman and her husband William.

Surviving family includes two daughters Charmiann Townsend of McCook, Nebraska; Yvonne Norby of Derby, Kansas; step-son Ron Leslie and his wife Jolene of Hutchinson; seven grandchildren Pat Townsend and his wife Sara, Sonya (Townsend) Vandiver and her husband Mike, Craig Townsend, Blake Townsend and his wife Stephanie, Geoffrey Norby and his wife Kate, and Jacob Norby; seven great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be Tuesday, March 18, at 10:30 AM MT, at First United Methodist Church in Goodland, with Reverend Shelly Petz officiating.  Burial will military honors will follow in the Goodland Cemetery.

Memorials may be designated to Northwest Kansas Area Medical Foundation or First United Methodist Church, and may be left at the service or mailed to Koons Funeral Home, 211 N. Main, Goodland, KS  67735-1555.

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