Corlys Evangeline (McLeod) Chase, was born in Echo on March 6, 1926. The youngest and last surviving of seven siblings born to Neil and Elsie (Hahn) McLeod. Corlys was known as “Baby” McLeod during her early life.
Her family operated the McLeod Café in Echo (later titled Elsie’s and much later Lynae’s), and also ran Echo Clothing for a time. After graduating from Echo High School in 1944, where she had been an innovative cheerleader, Corlys worked several summers at Yellowstone National Park. In the off season, she focused on child care work in the Twin Cities, where she met Clifford Chase. The couple married in 1951, and a few years later, with two children in tow, relocated to Omaha, Nebraska, where she became active in charitable work involving international college students and fund-raising for Boys Town. Corlys, studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and put that education to good use in 1962 by writing and copyrighting a musical comedy about her time at Yellowstone Park called “Don’t Feed the Bears.” Corlys’ love of horses manifested on the Nebraska state racing circuit, where she was the owner of two successful thoroughbreds in the 1960s, Sooner Flash and Tales of Casey.
Following her divorce in 1972, Corlys headed south, where she launched a successful career in property management in Louisiana, Texas and Arizona. Twenty years later, she relocated again, this time back to her native Echo, where Corlys purchased a house and worked for a time as a desk clerk at a motel in Redwood. She wrote a weekly column — “Southern Exposure” — in the Tri-County News, and became active in community affairs. She loved to edit anecdotal stories down to one page or less, and then read them to residents at Parkwood/Parkview in Belview, MN. She was known to some of the residents back then as “the story lady.” Corlys was a member of Rock Valle Lutheran Church, and a 30-year member of the American Legion Auxiliary. For years, she would decorate dozens of graves for Memorial Day and put home-made crosses on many of the Veterans’ graves.
Corlys was instrumental in the founding of the E.C.H.O. Charter School in 1994. A decade later, she was the guiding force in turning a vacant lot into the non-profit Hope Market after the village was left without a grocery store. She served as the store’s administrator and chief clerk, often working seven days a week, mostly unpaid. She also oversaw the use of the store’s profits, which funded numerous civic projects, among them scholarships for the Charter School, Christmas decorations for the town, and Echo’s Veterans’ Memorial. The latter was an important cause for Corlys because of her family’s military service, including the sacrifice of her eldest brother, Finley McCleod, who died while serving as a tank commander in North Africa during World War II.
Corlys died on Oct. 16, 2023, at Parkview Senior Living in Belview. She is survived by her three sons: Steve (Judy) Chase of Garland, Neb., Mitch Chase of Decatur, Ala., and Tom Chase of Birmingham, Ala. Other survivors include two grandchildren, Dixie (Zach) Lobas, and Roy Neil (Gary Marine) Chase; and two great grandchildren, Johana Miller, and Anaheim Lobas; and numerous nieces, nephews, grand nieces, and grand nephews.
Corlys was preceded in death by her parents Neil and Elsie McLeod; and siblings Finley McLeod, Kenneth “Boyce” McLeod; Guila Mae (Amos) Kurtz, Delilah (Tom) Klippstein; Eveleth (Egon) Lohmann, and Karen (Manley) Jensen.
Arrangements with, Sunset Funeral and Cremation Association, Echo