American Veteran 01

Leo Ward Craver

August 21, 1924 ~ November 23, 2020 (age 96)


Leo Ward Craver, was born 8/21/1924, and passed away peacefully on 11/23/2020 at MercyOne, Long Term Care in Centerville.  He was the third son of Blanche and Vest Craver.  After graduation from Centerville High School, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Force in 1943, and fought in WWII, serving his country in the Galapagos’ Islands as a Medic.  Leo was honorably discharged and returned to Centerville, Iowa in 1946, where Leo and Barbara Jean Clarke, his high school sweetheart, were united in marriage on February 19, 1946. 

Leo joined his father and brothers, Harlan and Ralph, at Craver Lumber Company where he worked until retirement.

Leo’s life was far from boring, as he made every day an adventure.  Leo and wife, Barbara, were on their way home, having had dinner on May 22, 1962, and came upon a large piece of metal in the road.  They stopped the vehicle, and upon investigation of the piece, realized it was from an airplane.  They took it to the Centerville police station, and it turned out, it was from the downed Boeing 707, Continental Airlines Flight 11 from Chicago to Kansas City.  Leo was part of the first team on the ground to search for any survivors. Another time, Leo was part of a sheriff posse that searched for, and found a mass murderer from Iowa, Gayno Gilbert Smith, wanted for killing six people in 1961 and 1962. 

Along with being known as a hard worker, Leo also enjoyed wood working, crafts, golf, tennis, water sports and camping.  He and wife, Barbara were some of the first campers on Lake Rathbun, known to locals as “Craver’s Point”.

The best way to describe Leo would be smiling, witty, loving, playful, and prankster.  He represented the saying, “to know him, is to love him”.

Leo was preceded in death by his loving wife, Barbara, his parents, and brothers.   Leo has three surviving children, LeAnn Ducey (David), Diane Buss, (William), and Todd Craver (Doreen), nine grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren.

There will be a private family gathering at Oakland Cemetery.  Memorials may be made out to either the First United Methodist Church or the MercyOne Medical Center, Long Term Care, and may be mailed to Lange Funeral Home and Crematory, C/O Craver Family, 1900 South 18th Street, Centerville, Iowa 52544. Condolences may be shared online at  

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