Mrs. Sue Leonard was born December 8, 1930 in Decatur, Illinois to J. Forrest and Mary Neiswanger Ihinger. In 1932, the family returned to Topeka, where Sue lived until 1961. She graduated from Topeka High School in 1948 and from the University of Kansas in 1952. At K.U., she held offices in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, was on the Board of Student Union Activities and served as Statewide Collegiate Chairman on the Y.W.C.A.
From 1952 to 1955, Sue taught at M.J. Whitson Elementary School in Topeka. In 1955, she went to Germany for several years as a first grade teacher for the Department of the Army Dependent’s Schools. Following her return, Sue was employed by King Travel Service in Topeka. During her adult years in Topeka, she participated in Junior League, was on the Washburn Advisory Board for her sorority, and in 1958, served as Shawnee County Chairman of the K.U. Alumni Association.
Sue graduated from the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration in 1961 and was employed as a Training Officer for the Bank of America in San Francisco until 1965. She was married in 1964 to John Leonard and due to his work with the bank; she lived in Red Bluff, Hanford, Shafter, Fresno, and finally, Bakersfield, California. After being a stay-at-home Mom to her two children, Sue returned to teaching in Shafter in 1978 and taught two years for the Fresno Unified School District. From 1983 until 1997, she taught many first graders in the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District in Bakersfield, California.
After retiring, Sue moved to Lawrence, Kansas where she continued to substitute teach. She became an active volunteer in community and civic organizations. Some of the local groups that benefited from her time and talents include: New Generations Society, Dole Institute for Politics, Tenola, Senior Council for the Chamber of Commerce, Lied Center for the Performing Arts, Brandon Woods Resident’s Council, Welcome Wagon, and the Spencer Museum of Art.
Sue had a warm smile for everyone she met and made everyone feel special in her presence. She loved to entertain and was a wonderful hostess. Her kind and outgoing personality, humor, and generous spirit were beloved by all who met and knew her. She has dear friends of all ages—from the young students who greeted her with hugs to the young adults who loved her and to older generations who cherished her friendship too. Sue leaves behind a strong legacy of educating children and helping her fellow man.
Sue is survived by a son, Matthew Leonard, of San Ramon, California, and a daughter, Nancy (Steve) Owen of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has three grandchildren: David, Isabel and John Owen of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She was preceded in death by her father and her mother.
A memorial service will be held at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence, Kansas on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 4:00 p.m., with inurnment at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the University of Kansas Endowment Association and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com.
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