When informed of the death of Leonard Rudolph Akland, the words most spoken by those who knew him were “Well done, good and faithful servant!”. From his earliest years, Leonard felt that his life was directed by God’s hand. He was the 9th of 10 children, born on March 8, 1924, to Cora Marie Larson Akland and Tobias Akland on their farm near Menno, SD. His early years were full of hard work, little money and the Lutheran church. Tobias died in 1926, when Len was 2, leaving his mother and older siblings to support 10 children on the family acres. Leonard recalls that, early on, he knew he did not ever want to be a farmer and thought of being either a pastor or a doctor. Since they could not afford doctors, he often mused about where the idea of becoming a medical doctor came from.
After graduating from Augustana Academy, a Lutheran high school in Canton, SD, he enrolled at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. Again, when faced with picking a major, though not sure why, he chose “pre-Med”. In 1942, after 6 months of college, he was drafted and chose to join the Navy. Both these choices led him to opportunities to be trained in a wide variety of medical roles and ultimately to Willamette Medical College in Oregon, opportunities he could never have otherwise afforded. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he completed his education at the University of South Dakota Medical School and Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, graduating in 1949. He interned in Omaha, Nebraska and began his career at the VA hospital in Sioux Falls, SD.
In 1951, he married Agnes Theodora Braaten Mahoney, a young woman he had known while at Augustana Academy. She had been widowed in 1949 and had a small daughter, Gloria, whom he adopted. Len and Agnes continued living and working in Sioux Falls, where Mark Steven was born.
The Korean War found Leonard drafted again, this time by the U.S. Army, to serve in Killeen, TX at Fort Hood. He served for two years, after which he started and built a private practice in Canton, SD. Carolyn Marie was born there.
Len’s mother was a faithful Christian woman who had instilled in her children early on a caring for missions and the work that was done by the church through missionaries. In 1959, he and Agnes were contacted by the head of ELC missions and told of the dire need for a physician/surgeon in Madagascar. (Agnes was the child of missionaries who had served for over 30 years in Madagascar.) Len felt that he needed to answer the call and he and Agnes pulled up stakes and spent the next 10 years abroad, first in Paris, France for a year of language study and then on to Manambaro, Madagascar, where Len went right to work.
After ten years of service in Madagascar, Len and Agnes moved back to the United States, ultimately settling in Thousand Oaks, California where Len was in private practice for over 15 years, served on the medical staff of California Lutheran College and volunteered weekly at the Union Rescue Mission in Los /Angeles. He retired in 1984, after which he and Agnes lived in Santa Barbara, CA and Bear Valley Springs, Tehachapi, CA. While in Bear Valley, he was asked by the California Correctional Institution, a supermax state prison in Tehachapi, if he would consider going to work there. He did from 1994 until 1999, when he retired for the final time.
His final move was to St. Peter, MN, where he and Agnes had many more active years prior to Agnes’ death from in 2014. After his beloved wife’s passing, he moved into The Benedictine Living Community in St. Peter. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church.
Leonard was a very capable, loving and humble Christian man who lived his life in service to others. He served as a Director of the Board of World Missions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and was a founding member, President of and supporter of Global Health Ministries. He received the “Outstanding Alumni Award” from Augustana Academy, Canton, SD; was awarded “Man of the Year Distinquished Service Award” from California Lutheran University and was a lifelong member of both The American Academy of Family Physicians and of the California Medical Association. He and Agnes loved traveling around the United States and abroad, visiting many countries in their lifetime. They particularly loved traveling to their ancestral country, Norway, and he and Agnes returned to Madagascar at least twice for short visits.
Leonard passed away peacefully on May 11, 2023 at his age 99 years. He is mourned by his children: Mark Akland (Susie) of St. Peter, MN; Carolyn Akland (Jeannie Ingram) of Nashville, TN: and Gloria Buczek (John) of Southlake, TX; his grandchildren: Adam Buczek (Kanya), William Buczek (Christine) and John David Lackey. He is remembered and loved by his great-grandchildren: Emma, Leah, and Noah Buczek, Lana and Stanley Buczek, Anna Grace and Jackson Blaine Lackey; surviving in-laws and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his 9 siblings: Olaf, Christian, Stanley, Melvin, Selmer, Marie, Thelma, Judith, and Irene.
A Memorial Service for Leonard will be held on July 8, 2023 at Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Peter, MN. Visitation and gathering will begin at 10:00 AM. Service will start at 11:00 AM. Following the service, lunch and a sharing of memories will be held in the Fellowship Hall. At 2 PM, those who wish to accompany the family will depart for the drive to Northfield, MN (Oaklawn Cemetery), where the graveside service and interment will begin at 3:30.