Obituary of Leona Espinosa (1925 – 2021) – Pocatello, ID



Leona Ida Sorrell Espinosa, died in her home at sunset on September 19, 2021, in the arms of her family. Leona was born on May 29, 1925, in a small house on 2nd Street, in Pocatello, Idaho, to Annie Saxton Sorrell and Charles Sorrell. She was their second child and their only daughter.

Leona spent her early childhood on the family farm on the Fort Hall Reservation, in a house her father built on Laughran Road. Her favorite activity was spending time with her grandmother, Annie Powell, Sorrell, Quinn. His grandmother taught him a lot of things. She enjoyed playing with her brothers, Charles Lee Sorrell and Robert Frank Sorrell.

When her father died at the age of 12, Leona was enrolled in the Stewart Indian School in Nevada. She was homesick, but then excelled in her studies. Leona graduated in 1942. Leona returned to Pocatello and worked in her aunt’s laundry and at the Union Pacific Railroad.

Leona then met Leo Jones. They were married on June 9, 1945. They had 3 children together, Penny Ackert (Jim), David Jones (Gina), Eileen Ashbaugh (Richard). Leona and Leo owned several businesses in the old town of Pocatello. They then bought a trucking business and moved to Alameda, California. The couple then divorced.

Leona married Edward A. Espinosa in 1958. They had a daughter together, Berta Marie Espinosa Hadley (Byron). Together, their blended family consisted of 6 children.

Leona and her children were then residing at Balboa Naval Station in San Diego, California. Edward was then shipped to Japan. Upon her return, the family was transferred to Alameda Naval Base in Alameda, Calif., Where Leona began working in the base laundry. The couple bought their first home in 1960, in Warm Springs, a suburb of Fremont, California. When her husband retired from the US Navy, Leona became a stay-at-home mom. She was excellent! She made her family’s life wonderful.

When her husband retired a second time, the couple and their youngest daughter returned to Pocatello. They bought a house and placed it on Leona’s land in the reserve. Around this time, Leona’s mother moved into her daughter’s house. This brought the whole Sorrell family together to take care of Grandma Ida. What a glorious time it was.

In 1975, Leona was hired by the Indian Education Committee. She became a technical assistant for grades 5 and 6 at Tyhee School in District 25. She was on a bowling team with her adopted daughter, Diane Yupe. Leona loved to do pottery, square dance and read. At the same time, she was taking care of her husband Edward, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Leona took care of him with the help of family and friends until his death. After the death of her husband, Leona retired. She then enjoyed visiting her older daughters in California.

Leona quickly reconnected with an old acquaintance, Cornel Hetzel. During 10 years, they had many adventures. Visiting national parks, doing crafts, sewing on their embroidery machines, (we all have hats with our names on them), baking, canning, and gardening. Leona took care of Cornel, with the help of Hospice, until her death.

After her death, Leona lived alone. In 2013, Leona moved to Brookdale Assisted Living due to an injury from a fall. Where she resided until July 15, 2016. She then returned home on Laughran Road with her 2 youngest daughters and grandson to take care of her.

Leona was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 92. It was something to see. They took care of her and became her extended family. Dr J. Lacky and Bishop V. Esplin, his trusted friends. Leona had great faith and it turned on others.

In the last years of his life. Leona overcame many obstacles and survived. She has shown great strength in the face of adversity and paid homage to her God and Savior. She considered herself blessed. Leona was a longtime member and valued elder of the Shoshone Bannock tribe. She praised the attention they gave her. She has a lot of friends. We miss Leona very much, but her legacy lives on.

She had 4 children, as well as 2 adopted daughters, (Diane Dann Yupe and Angie Hernandez, Fisher); eight grandchildren; as well as several great-grandchildren. His Sorrell nephews were his sons.

Leona was predeceased by her parents, brothers, husband, grandson and 2 sons-in-law, as well as many good friends.

Leona’s family will have a teepee in their home at 503 Laughran Road. Thursday 30 September 2021 at 11.30 am. Friends are invited to say goodbye. Food provided by the tribe will be served at 12:00 noon.

On Friday October 1, 2021 at 10:00 a.m., Leona will be moved from the tipi, to have funeral services, to the LDS 37th ward Chapel, on the former US Hwy 91 North, between Reservation Road and Ballard Fort Hall and Chubbuck Road. Interment will take place immediately after at Mountain View Cemetery, 1520 S. 5th Ave. Pocatello, ID. A light meal will then be served by the 37th room. Please join us in honoring (Nonie).

Many thanks to Encompass Hospice, 37th Ward, Indian health workers and the many others who helped take care of her. She loved you and appreciated you.

Condolences can be presented online at

Published by Idaho State Journal on September 29, 2021.



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