Cover photo for Mary  Elizabeth  Leonard's Obituary
Mary  Elizabeth  Leonard Profile Photo
1933 Mary 2017

Mary Elizabeth Leonard

November 30, 1933 — April 21, 2017

Mary Elizabeth Peterson Leonard, 82, passed away April 21st, 2017 in Boulder, CO from natural causes.

Born on July 19th, 1934 in Minneapolis, MN to parents George Lester Peterson and Marguerite Littel Peterson, Mary graduated from Deephaven (MN) High School, then went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics from Iowa State University.  Shortly thereafter, she married David Henry Leonard on December 28th, 1957 in Minneapolis. After living in Hershey, PA and Brookings, SD, the Leonard family relocated to Boulder in 1993. While Mary worked mainly as a homemaker, she devoted much of her time to many interests. She was a peaceful person who loved art, birds, cooking, hiking, canoeing, friends, and, most of all, her family. Mary promoted diversity and social justice everywhere she lived. Often, she would search the local Savers thrift store, and send mended children’s clothing to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Reservation at Agency Village, SD. Mary kept one cupboard space filled with items for local food drives, including EFAA. When she found out that a relative was asexual, Mary did the research and bought her a supportive black ring. Her daughter, Julie, remembers her fondly as a woman who “invited a Fresh Air Kid from NYC to visit in summer; who volunteered with Headstart in Harrisburg; who gave Green Circle presentations about inclusion to schoolchildren; who kept the Human Relations Council Library in her basement (leading Julie to discover literary treasures like “Invisible Man” and “Black Like Me”); who led voter-registration drives at the local high school; who worked with a network to shelter battered women.” Mary’s interest in Native-American issues grew after she lobbied in the South Dakota legislature, and she became an ardent supporter of tribal colleges. In addition, Mary is remembered by her son, Peter, as “the kindest, most compassionate person I have been blessed to know.” By her granddaughter-in-law, Ashlee, as “loving, giving, thoughtful, adventurous, and laid back.” By her daughter-in-law, Diane, for the fact that Mary “inspired us all to the end with her strength and courage.” A member of the League of Women Voters for fifty years, she also loved her involvement with the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Reverend Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry recalls that Mary was “the first to send a card, give a call, or offer some delicacy to a friend or neighbor.”

Mary is survived by her husband, David Leonard, of Boulder; her sons, Peter Leonard (Janet Shaffer) of Winston-Salem, NC, and Chris Leonard (Diane) of Darwin, MN; her daughter, Julie Leonard (David Keith) of Marshall, CO; her brother, Nils Peterson (Susan) of Palm City, FL; her grandchildren, Betsy, Rose, Jonathan, James, and Robert; and her great-grandchildren, Madison and Nolan.

While she will certainly be missed by our community and her family, Mary has left a great legacy. Simply and beautifully put by her daughter, “She never stopped learning, and she never lost her interest in people.” A memorial service will take place Sunday, May 7th, 3:00PM at Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1241 Ceres Drive, Lafayette, CO 80026. Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.
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