Mom never thought she would ever travel or see any other part of the country except the one in which she was raised: Bellerose in the borough of Queens, New York City. She thought she’d be living in the same house forever, the one she had lived in for 23 years.
“The Lord must have been laughing at me,” she says today.
Leanore Janet Schaefer was born on May 24, 1939, in the borough of Brooklyn. Lee (as she became known in her teenage years) was a brown-haired, brown-eyed ball of energy. She constantly kept her parents on their toes.
When she was four, she heard the Gospel clearly presented at a Bible club held in a library in Elmont. She distinctly remembers the conviction she felt that day, knowing she had been sinning “at least since she was three” and wondering “if God could forgive her sins” if she waited until she was five to be saved. A Bible club worker dealt with her and Leanore received the Lord as her Savior that day.
She began singing on the radio at a very young age, standing on a chair to reach the microphone. She also played the violin and clarinet. In grade school, she became active in Good News clubs which she held at her house during the school year. And as a teenager, Mom was active in reaching out to the 6,000 students at PS #33 in Jamaica. She and a friend would stand at the door of their school and pass out tracts as fast as they could to the students arriving for the day. She was a faithful member of a HI-BA Club (“High School Born Again” Club).
After graduating from high school in 1957, Mom enrolled at the West Suburban Nursing School in Oak Park, Illinois. She enjoyed her studies and especially taking Bible classes from the professors at Wheaton College who came to teach at West Suburban. After a year and eight months of nursing school, Mom was told she would not make a good nurse; she should go home and get married. Though she had to repeat some of her work, in 1961 she finished her nursing degree in New York City. She took a job at Booth Memorial Hospital in Flushing, then transferred to Long Island Jewish Hospital.
Her great love for children and nursing caused her to decide to go to Papua New Guinea as a missionary nurse. She had been accepted by a mission board in 1962 and had agreed to work at Camp Joy in upstate New York for the summer as the camp nurse. But the Lord would not give her peace about going, and she told the camp directors she could not come. They insisted she had a boyfriend, but she told them firmly that she did not.
Not long after she canceled her plans to work at Camp Joy, she met John Marshall at a Bible study held at a friend’s house. Unimpressed at first, she soon changed her mind when they began dating in July. By August they were engaged and they married on November 10, 1962. The camp directors at Camp Joy never believed her that she had not had a boyfriend.
For the next fourteen years, Dad pastored in three states—from Missouri to West Virginia to New York. When the Lord called Dad into full-time evangelism in 1976, it did not take long for Mom to say goodbye to their three-story parsonage on Long Island.
For almost forty years, Mom has encouraged hundreds of ladies through ladies meetings, her teaching sessions, and the prayer club she started in 1992 for families with five or more children called “Blessed with 5 and Still Alive.” Over the years she has helped more than fifty other young people who came to travel with our family for one reason or another.
Mom is a grandma to forty-one grandchildren and three (almost four) great-grandchildren. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, playing music, scolding her dachshund Brickel, and talking to her family via her new cell phone.