The George and Matilda Neyer Leik Foundation

The Foundation is administered by Edward and Charles Leik from funds bequeathed by their late parents. To date the Foundation has been used in cooperation with the Portland Garden Club to develop a 2 1/2 acre interpretive nature grove in their home town of Portland, MI. The grove features shrubs and trees indigenous to central Michigan, a Stonehenge-like arrangement of large boulders relating to the astronomical year, and a large solar sundial. Plantings and paths are placed to lead the visitor through the area with nature surprises beyond each turn. For example there is a chestnut circle, a group of black walnuts, and a butterfly garden. It is envisioned that the Leik Grove will introduce elementary school children and adults alike to the wonders of nature.

Support for The Barn Journal Web site continues a life long interest the Leiks had in agriculture, rural life and vernacular architecture. George knew the builder and dates of many barns in the Portland area, and was saddened by the deterioration of these imposing structures.

George Leik (1905-1995) was born near Portland, MI, the youngest of five children of Anton and Ellen Moriarity Leik, educated in local schools and became a teacher at age 18. He taught at rural one room schools and spent summers as a carpenter on residential construction on Detroit’s east side until 1932. That year he and his brother Henry established Leik Brothers Chevrolet dealership; after the War the agency sold Kaiser-Frazer and later Dodge-Plymouth products until 1959. That year he retired to his beloved farm which has been in the family since 1893. George spent these years raising swine, growing grain, planting trees, collecting automotive history and dispensing wisdom. He and Matilda won state and county awards for their tree growing and conservation efforts.

Matilda Neyer Leik (1903-1988) was born at Beal City, MI, the eldest of eight children of Austrian imigrants Jacob and Agatha Jenny Neyer. Matilda attended St. Philomena’s parish school and completed her education at Central Michigan Teachers’ College (now CMU) . This was an unusual achievement for a woman in that era, particularly one from modest circumstances. Like George she taught at a succession of one room country schools in northern Michigan and boarded with the local farmers. She spent summers traveling to Mexico and the Far West, considerable undertakings in the 30s.

George and Matilda were married at St. Philamena’s in July 1940 and lived their married life in the Portland area. They were the parents of two children, Charles and Edward.