Leonora Elkin Barker

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.



14 Condolences

  1. Lynn George on January 23, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Dear Bonnie and Bruce,

    Sorry to learn of the loss of your mother. Once in a Christmas letter she asked me not to forget her, and I never well. We remember her every year when my daughter makes Mrs. B’s Orange Balls. I often make her Company Chicken Casserole. Plus there’s my ornament collection. When I first met your mom I was a student, new to town, with a husband that traveled during the week. She invited me over, gave me companionship, and taught me how to make felt ornaments, although mine never measured up to hers. Mrs. B was a lady, but I always loved her slightly naughty sense of humor. I’ll always remember her martini toast. One martini I can take…

    Again, my condolences to your family. Mrs. B was a special lady.

    Best Regards,

    Lynn George

  2. Joe Flannery on January 23, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    Dear Bonnie,

    Your Mother was such a joy to see whenever we would run into each other.
    Lenora always had her beautiful smile and she would light up even more whenever I asked about you and Bruce. I never realized that she was born and raised in Lawrence but that explains why she loved our community and people so much.
    Godspeed to her and to all of you.

  3. Ann Toppimg on January 23, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss…she will be missed. Sending prayers to her family and loved ones.

  4. Janice Rake on January 23, 2021 at 10:35 pm

    I first met Leonora when she came knocking on my door with a loaf of her famous zucchini bread which she bestowed on each new resident to Wimbledon Terrace Townhomes. I enjoyed a lot of laughs with her and a few margaritas. Alli and I will miss her but I know that all is well with her soul. Peace be with you all.

  5. Deb Rawlings on January 24, 2021 at 9:43 am

    My deepest condolences for your loss. Leonora always brightened my day when I would visit my mother (Marge Cate) at Monterey Village. She always had a smile on her face & found delight in everything. What a special lady! May your memories of her bring you comfort.

  6. Kathleen Hird Kostner and Ricardo Kostner on January 24, 2021 at 11:19 am

    We offer our heartfelt condolences and sympathy. Lenora’s was a life well-lived. This is a lovely tribute to our dear Kanwaka neighbor. Blessings to her entire family in this time of profound loss.

  7. Rick and Debbie Stucky on January 24, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    For many years we have marveled over Lenora’s energy and generous spirit. We will miss her communications. She had an exceptional life.

  8. Linda & Eric Hyler on January 24, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Dear Family,

    My husband and I both worked on Ph.D.s at the same time. It was always a joy to see her. When our 3-4 year old was with us, she always found a treat for Elizabeth. Going into the EPA office after she retired was never the same – such a sweet and lovely lady. You were lucky to have her as your mother.

  9. Kay Koch on January 25, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    I was at Monterey Village the morning Leonora passed and was so sad to hear the news. She lived next door to my father, Doug. I enjoyed visiting with her at times and always thought she was such a lovely person, full of happiness. Sending you my condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family.

  10. Patty supancic on January 27, 2021 at 10:39 am

    Great fun memories at Panera, Tuesday morning coffee group. Lenora was always smiling, laughing and wanted to know how everyone was that morning. A great caring and wonderful lady. You are truly missed my friend.????

  11. Marilyn Scannell on January 27, 2021 at 5:28 pm

    Dear Bonnie and Bruce,

    Bonnie, I believe you wrote the Christmas note to me on behalf of your mother, marking the first Christmas Dale and Lenora did not share Christmas greetings. Last March was the first time Dale and Lenora did not share birthday cards, as their birthdays were two days apart. Lenora was one of the first persons in Lawrence Dale introduced me to, and I immediately heard all kinds of interesting stories about the two of them, including some nickname he had for her, which I forget now (was it Tutti?). I will always felt close to her because of Dale and will miss her courage and stamina How many years ago did she contract cancer and beat it? She lived a wonderful life and was an inspiration to us all.

  12. Susan Scannell on January 28, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    Bonnie and Bruce, I have wonderful memories of your mother over the years. I remember as a child going out to her family farm and looking for bittersweet. I always enjoyed being around her. Lenora was one of the nicest people I’ve known. And independent! I remember running into her at the grocery store when she was in her early 90’s, and offering to carry her packages to her car. She would not let me! My dad enjoyed his tradition of trading the kissing dolls with your mother on their birthdays. Both of my parents thought the world of Lenora. My heart goes out to both of you. Much love.

  13. Kelly Evans on January 28, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    Bonnie, Bruce and family –
    It’s such a unique experience to know someone as beautiful inside and outside as your sweet mother!! I loved her and still think if her so often.
    I want to be her! -At 80, generously giving her time and talent to numerous causes, to be so stylish and also wise, chatting about cute clothes, hearing about her awesome grandkids, preparations for the big sale at the church, and the way she always offered a knowing smile and helping hand. During a visit to KS about 7 yrs ago I got to visit Leonora at her home. She served margaritas and it was an absolute delight to catch up! I always looked forward to her Christmas card and update. -So thankful you hosted her birthday party last year! I cherish that we were able to see her then. My heart goes out to each of you. She adored her kids and family. Much love, Kelly

  14. Trinity In-Home Care staff on January 29, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    We were saddened to learn of the passing of Leonora. She was a volunteer here at Trinity In-Home Care, Inc. She was wonderful to have around and made important contributions to this agency.

    Thank you so much for listing Trinity in her remembrances. It was an honor to have her be part of our family.

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