Stanley-Boyd lost a well-known and much-loved citizen when Rose Leja, 91, passed away unexpectedly on August 12 at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. A bartender for over 50 years at local bars, Leja was among the reasons people came in, whether to chat, hang out, or just visit a friend.
“She was very popular, and I believe it was because she took her job very seriously and wanted her customers to have a good time,” her son Randy shared via telephone Monday. As it turned out, bartending and hospitality were things Rose grew up around, later turning to them when hardship made it necessary for her to work outside the home.
Born December 21, 1931, to Louis and Evelyn (Regele) Schumacher, Rose grew up attending Maple Hill School before graduating from Stanley High in 1950. Marrying fellow Stanley High graduate Harold Leja on July 28, 1951, she and her husband would go on to have four sons, before hardship would strike the family and make it necessary for her to seek outside work. Harold would fall sick, meaning that Rose had to make a living alongside raising children.
Taking up bartending to bring in an income, Leja was known for her Old Fashioned, as well as periodic and general cooking skills as well. Rose was also a cribbage player, proud of her three “29” hands in cribbage. Rose’s sister was Alvina Lis, with Maple Hill and Huron both being part of the family heritage.
Dean Tinjum, who employed Rose for over two decades as a bartender at his own bar Deano’s Big Ten Pub, had more to share.
“When I opened my bar back in 1993, Rose came to work for me,” he said, “or you could say she came to work with me.”
Known and loved by everybody, Rose also tended bar at the Royal Cellar/Hotel as well as Main Office, where Kelly Grill is now.
Honest and dependable, Tinjum said he never had to worry when Rose was working.
“She was a great employee,” he said, “never had to worry when she was working.” As it turned out, she only called in once, apologetic for not feeling well.
“The one day she called in sick, she was crying, and said she was sorry she couldn’t work that day,” he said of Rose. “She was a famous bartender. Everyone came to see her.”
A full obituary for Leja appears alongside this article.