Born on January 13, 1922, in Mason County, Texas, she died on May 12, at her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Leola is survived by her husband Gus Nestor Gikas, and their son, Ken Gikas, and his wife, Carol, and granddaughters, Lydia and Caroline, all of Baton Rouge; a sister Barbara Shafer and her husband James Broz, two nieces Debbie Broz and husband, Scott Quarles, and their sons, Clayton and James, and Rhonda Broz and her husband, Allen Livingston, and their children Eliza and Hadley, and a nephew, Steven Broz, all of the Victoria, Texas area. She is also survived by two sisters-in-law, Margaret and her husband Bob Herrin of Marshall, Texas, and Marie Blackburn Puckett of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Preceding her in death are a son Donne Wayne, her parents, Elna Ritter Shafer and William Rufus Shafer, and two brothers, John Louie (J.L.) and his wife, Lillian Mangold, and Felton Faris Shafer and his wife, Dorothy Elwanda Browning. Leola’s grandparents, Anna Laura Schuessler and John Alfred Ritter, and Laura Elizabeth Cunningham and John Franklin Shafer, all of Mason County, pre-deceased her.
In 1942, Leola met her future husband of 66 years, and they married at Kelly Field, Texas, a year later. As the wife of a career Air Force officer, she lived in Germany, England, and Spain, as well as in New York, Colorado, California, Maryland, Illinois, Alaska, and Texas. She enjoyed and excelled in painting, sculpture, ceramics, fabric arts, and growing roses. After Leola and Gus retired to San Antonio in 1970, she became an avid genealogist who researched her family’s roots, traveling in this country and Europe, and then publishing two books on her family: The Johann Georg and Eva Katharine Storch Family (including related Starks, Schuesslers, and Ritter families) and The Family of Cornelius and Mary Cating and Descendants (including Dilles, Marks, and Humpreys families). She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
In retirement, Leola also participated in her husband’s stoneware pottery business in their studio near Sequin, Texas, by decorating and applying low relief decorations to pottery he threw on a potter’s wheel. Leola will be remembered for her love and devotion to immediate and extended family. She especially delighted in her granddaughters, and she helped organize and participated in numerous family reunions in the Texas Hill Country.
She has been laid to rest next to her son in Mission Park South Cemetery in San Antonio.
In the spirit of the family reunions Leola always looked forward to, a gathering of family and friends to remember Leola will be held on June 19, at 2:00 PM, at the Doubletree Hotel, near the San Antonio airport, 37 NE Loop 410 (at McCullough). Anyone is invited to attend and encouraged to inform others. Donations may be made to a charity of your choice.