Longtime volunteer Leona Crump receives fond farewell

Thirty-seven years of history – probably one of the longest running fitness classes in the state – is represented as longtime community center volunteer Leona Crump, second from right, is joined by fitness instructors, left to right, Else Moyer, Judi Way and Ann Wade. Courtesy photo

FALLBROOK – “Honored and cherished after 30-plus years of dedicated volunteer work in Fallbrook” was how Ann Wade, fitness instructor and president of the Friends of the Fallbrook Community Center, described Leona Crump. Some 100 friends of the 87-year-old resident gathered, Oct. 13, at the community center to wish her a fond farewell as she heads for a new home with her family in Jamul, California.

“Leona has set a standard we can only hope to emulate,” Wade said. “She personifies all aspects of positive, healthy living and giving back in a meaningful way. A regular exerciser, dancer and lover of music, she became a volunteer class manager for the longest running fitness class at Fallbrook’s community center.

“For over 30 years, she has managed and set the bar for everyone participating – including those decades younger,” Wade said. “Her Fitness Fusion class compatriots will dearly miss her and her living testimony that a healthy lifestyle is possible at every age.”

Leona Crump, a founding member of the Scarecrow committee, poses with two of the many scarecrows that she created for display around town.

Crump’s volunteer work at the community center didn’t just include fitness activities. She was a founding member of the Friends of the Fallbrook Community Center, a nonprofit organization which partners with the center in supporting a wide range of programs. Thousands of families have benefited from her work with this nonprofit – whether paying for buses for summer camps so that families could afford the fees or sponsoring individual children or events.

As a talented artist, she was always a willing to use her talents to volunteer to paint signs, faces and more.

“There has been no better ‘friend’ to the Fallbrook Community Center than Leona Crump,” Johanna Salomon, a San Diego County Parks Recreational supervisor who works out of the Fallbrook Community Center, said in presenting Crump with a recognition award from the county.

The accolades continued as the community celebrated with much thanks and even more dancing. Representatives from the offices of state Sen. Joel Anderson, R-El Cajon, and Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, presented Crump with a special joint award plaque, noting that she personified the spirit of Fallbrook, which is “all about community and service.”

On behalf of the Fallbrook Art Association, director Jerri Patchett called Crump “a volunteer extraordinaire, a 20-year veteran and longest serving member who made the art center sparkle.”

Jackie Heyneman, representing the Scarecrow Days committee of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, said, “It’s ladies like Leona that we dream of having in our community.”

As a founding member of the Scarecrow committee, which was formed just five years ago, Crump never missed a meeting nor failed to create some fabulous creatures to grace the town every October.

A devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Crump’s three children were present. Daughter Roxanne Martes said that Crump also volunteered with the Poway School District for 25 years and helped her daughter, a single mother, raise her two boys.

Else Moyer, a fitness class instructor at the center in the early 1980s, was the first to benefit from Crump’s volunteer administrative and inspirational support. Several years later instructor Judi Way also found the volunteer’s reliability irreplaceable.

“Leona has always been the heartbeat and consistency of the class,” Moyer said.

Wade, the class instructor for the last nine years agreed wholeheartedly.

“Leona’s ‘can-do’ beautiful spirit will be sadly missed,” Wade said. “We hate to lose our longest volunteer. Her departure leaves a huge hole in the history of our class, community center and town.”

After all the accolades, the party continued with the activity that this super senior loves best – dancing.

Ethan Petereit from state Sen. Joel Anderson’s office and Kristy MacDougall of Assemblymember Marie Waldron’s office present Leona Crump with joint recognitions for her years of volunteer service to the community.

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