Alina Alexandria Leocha Learned died peacefully in her sleep on January 26, 2020. She was born on December 18, 1921, in Claremont, NH, to Jadwega (Jasinski) and Alexander Leocha. She was incredibly loving, gave everyone wonderful hugs, and touched the lives of all who came into contact with her.
Alina was affectionately called “Butch” while captain of the women’s basketball team at Stevens High School. She served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Medical Corps of the Civil Air Patrol during World War II. She set her own path and broke traditional rules by traveling with her sisters and friends from Maine to Cuba working in various resorts along the way.
Alina married Harold Learned in Saugus, MA, on December 4, 1948, and moved to Winchester, VA, in 1956. They began offering submarine sandwiches to local industries and soon opened the Tip Top Pizza Shop. This was followed by a second Pizza Shop and then The Back Room Lounge, a popular night spot. They continued expanding with restaurants in Middletown, VA, and Charles Town, WV. They collaborated on opening other businesses such as cofounding Harwill Foodservice Equipment, a motel, and security business while dabbling in real estate investing.
Alina was a long-time volunteer with the Apple Blossom Festival. She volunteered for years as an aide for a special education class at Apple Pie Ridge Elementary School. She helped promote tourism by traveling the highways of Virginia delivering local information for the Chamber of Commerce and volunteered for the Salvation Army, the church and other charitable causes. Alina and an African American woman led the only integrated Brownie troop in Winchester in the late 50s. Their story was was featured in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Alina was the wind
beneath the wings of her husband’s photography hobby by processing, packaging, and delivering the many photos for the various volunteer groups for which he took pictures. Alina also loved to travel and has visited 48 of the 50 states and traveled to many countries. For her 89th birthday, she rode in a hot air balloon.
Alina is survived by her three daughters: Nancy Haines (David) of Hillsborough, NC; Betty Friant (John) of Berryville, VA: Freda Oswalt of Manhattan Beach, CA. She leaves three granddaughters: Melanie Harari (David) of Van Nuys, CA and Elizabeth Goepp (Julius) of Hagerstown, MD; and Anne Friant of Boulder, CO. She has two great-grandchildren: Emmett and Lilah Harari. Also surviving are her step-children, their spouses, children and grandchildren: Arthur Learned (Janet) of Dunbarton, NH; her daughter-in-law Judy Learned of Laconia, NH; and Joann Luneau (Gary) of Bath, ME. Preceding her in death were her husband, Harold; brothers: Adolf, Victor, and Stanley; and sisters: Felicia Rhodes, Theresa Stillman, Freda Burbee, and Lorraine Puksta. Her stepson, Richard Learned and son-in-law William Oswalt also preceded her in death.
There will be a private service at the Mt. Hebron Cemetery. A party in her honor to drink, eat kielbasa, and tell fun stories will be held at a later date.