Leonora Elkin Barker passed away of natural causes at Monterey Village Assisted Living in Lawrence, on January 21, 2021, six weeks shy of her 100th birthday. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Leonora was born March 5, 1921 in Lawrence, Kansas the daughter of William F. and Grace Colman Elkin. She and her older brother were raised on a farm a few miles west of Lawrence (at that time, now within the city limits). The family farmland had visible ruts from the Oregon Trail that passed across it. In addition, it was home to a tall grass Blackland prairie, the subject of much interest and study by Kansas University and other area botanists. The prairie flourished as a natural area and had never been plowed until the farm was sold in the 1970’s. Also on the farm was a lone bent tree beckoning from atop a hill in the meadow, a landmark of sorts for those entering Lawrence from the west along Highway 40. Leonora never strayed far from those farm roots. She lived nearly all her life in Lawrence and died near her former farm. Her room at Monterey Village was located just three miles east of the farm, and looked out over fields and cedar trees, much like the landscape where she started her life.
Leonora would ride her pony, Queenie, to Kanwaka grade school, a one-room schoolhouse she attended for eight years. She graduated from Liberty Memorial High School in 1939 and attended the University of Kansas for three years before joining the workforce at the Hurcules Powder Company during the second World War. Leonora later began employment at the University of Kansas, holding secretarial positions with several schools within the university. She retired from the School of Education at KU in 1989, after 29 years of loyal service.
Leonora loved all things associated with KU, including everyone she worked with, the students she came to know so well, and the basketball games, which she continued to watch on television throughout her life. She was a Life Member of the KU Alumni Association, as well as a member of the Endacott Society, University Women’s Club, Salvation Army Auxiliary, and the First United Methodist Church. After retirement from KU, Leonora volunteered for Trinity In-Home Care, providing part-time office services for two decades.
Leonora was a warm and caring person, with a ready smile and kind heart for all she met. She is survived by a son, Bruce Barker (wife Ledru) of San Antonio, Texas; daughter Bonnie Meeder (husband Bill); four grandsons and five great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Donald Elkin.
The family extends special appreciation to those who provided loving care to Leonora, including Monterey Village, her home for the past several years; Avalon Hospice; and Visiting Angels.
Family suggests memorials be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary to the following: Endacott Society of the Kansas University Alumni Association “Expression of Appreciation”; First United Methodist Church; or Trinity In-Home Care.