Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II


Leora’s Letters is the story about the five Wilson brothers who are featured on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, Iowa, which was dedicated in October 2019. Leora was their mother.

All five brothers enlisted. Only two came home.

FrRockJuly25(3 (3)

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was  already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one, all five sons were serving their country in the military.

The oldest son reenlisted in the Navy. The younger three became U.S. Army Air Force pilots. 

As the family optimist, Leora wrote hundreds of letters, among all her regular chores, dispensing news and keeping up the morale of the whole family, which included the brothers’ two sisters. 

Her fondest wishes were to have a home of her own and family nearby. Leora’s Letters is the compelling true account of a woman whose most tender hopes were disrupted by great losses. Yet she lived out four more decades with hope and resilience.


Joy lets us see her grandmother’s personal family correspondence through letters. It is heart tugging. Be ready to be moved by this true story.–Van Harden, WHO-Radio Personality


Joy Neal Kidney, the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, is the keeper of family stories, letters, photos, combat records, casualty reports, and telegrams. Active on her own website, she is also a writer and local historian. Married to a Vietnam Air Force veteran, Joy lives in central Iowa.

Her nonfiction has been published in The Des Moines Register, other media, and broadcast over “Our American Stories.” She’s a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and her essays have been collected by the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa.  

The book is available on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.

In central Iowa, you may find autographed copies at The Machine Shed (Urbandale), Beaverdale Books (Des Moines, will ship), Adel Quilting and Drygoods (adel.quilting@gmail.com–will ship). Also at the Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge, and libraries in Dexter and Minburn.


  1. I am so happy for you! Congratulations on your book! And what a beautiful book to compose at that…a heartwarming family legacy of love. Life can be bitter-sweet, but when love is at the center, there is no greater way to live.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.