Sue Leonard

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.


16 Condolences

  1. Jene Herron on October 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Sue was the woman. What energy and vision. She was not afraid to love people and serve life with them. I loved her dearly. I wish she had been my first grade teacher.

  2. Pauline Moermond on October 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Dear Steve ,Nancy and family, please accept my deepest sympathy.

  3. Rich and Jolene Balvanz on October 30, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Nancy, Steve and family: We are sorry for your loss and pray that the faith you hold in the joy of resurrection to everlasting life in Christ sustains you in this difficult moment.

  4. Ellen & Gwyn on October 30, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Just heard the sad news and wanted you to know that we are thinking of you at this difficult time.

    All our love
    Ellen & Gwyn

  5. Debra Litton on October 30, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Nancy and Matthew,I was sorry to hear about your mother’s death. Sue was my mother’s cousin (my mother was Jeanne Ihinger DeMoss). I didn’t know Sue very well, but whenever I would meet with her she was very gracious.

  6. Loren Stowers on October 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Dear Family,
    I would like to send my condolences. It can be extremely difficult to lose a loved one. That is why I wanted to share the hope found in the bible, the hope of the resurrection. Jesus stated at John 5:28,29 “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will come out.” And at Revelation 21:3,4 it states that there will be a time when “…death will be no more.”
    These scriptures give us hope for the future as respects to our dead loved ones. Those scriptures have brought comfort to me and I hope it does the same for your family.
    With Love,

  7. Ian, Gina, Caleb, Lewis and Katya on October 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Nancy, Steve, David, Izzy and John-
    How sad to hear of your mom/grandmother’s passing. Praying for the “peace that passes understanding” to be yours during this tough time.

  8. The Fosse Family on October 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Nancy and family,
    We celebrate your mother’s life with you and rejoice in the faith she had in her Lord Jesus Christ. May God grant you comfort and peace until you see her again in Glory!
    The Fosse Family

  9. Judy Sweets on October 31, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Nancy and Family,
    So sorry for your loss. I got to know Sue when she volunteered at the Dole Institute of Politics. For several years she regularly greeted Sunday visitors to the Institute and acquainted them with the exhibits there. I’ll always remember her beautiful smile and her friendly manner. We will surely miss her.

  10. Judy Sweets on October 31, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Nancy and Family,
    So sorry for your loss. I got to know Sue when she volunteered at the Dole Institute of Politics. For several years she regularly greeted Sunday visitors to the Institute and acquainted them with the exhibits there. I’ll always remember her beautiful smile and her friendly manner. We will surely miss her.

  11. Arlene Comstock on October 31, 2012 at 5:53 am

    It was always a pleasure being with “Sunshine Sue” at Hart. She was quite a lady. She will be missed.

  12. Richard & Dee DeMoss on October 31, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Our deepest sympathy to Sue’s family & friends.

    Sue’s father, Forrest, was a brother to Richard’s mother, Laurel Jeanne Ihinger.

  13. Mandy and Colin on October 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Dear Nancy,Steve and family-All our thoughts are with you at this sad time – so sorry for your loss.Love from all the Thomas family

  14. Elinor and David Owen and Cooling family on November 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Nancy and Steven and beloved family Our deepest sympathy and love, you are in our thoughts our deepest sympathy at this sad time God bless you and keep you safe.

  15. Kay Kennedy on November 2, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Nancy and her family: I am so sorry for your loss. You have been the most loving daughter that I have ever known; and, your children have given Sue so much pleasure. Keep in contact to let Brandon Wood’s friends hear about all your future accomplishments. Affectionately!

  16. Joseph Doornek on October 16, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I’m doing a project on you

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