Friday, April 12, 2024

Betty Leonard, 95

| August 27, 2020 1:00 AM

Betty Leonard was an adventuresome mother of eight, grandmother of 21 and great-grandmother of multitudes (31 and growing). Betty died of natural causes on Aug. 23, 2020, surrounded by her family.

Betty was born on Feb. 24, 1925, to August H. Leck and Louisa (Harding) Leck in McKees Rocks, Pa. She was one of seven children.

After graduating from McKees Rocks High School, Betty enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Wave. She served at the end of World War ll. Betty was trained as an IBM keypunch operator by the Navy and used that skill the rest of her career at Lockheed, North American Aviation, Rocketdyne, Autonetics, Hunt's Foods, GTE and Clare Pendar/General lnstruments. Betty worked full time between pregnancies until she retired.

Betty traveled to the USN Training School in Bronx, N.Y.; U.S. Naval Barracks, Washington, D.C.; and Receiving Station, Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. while in the Navy. She continued to travel the rest of her life.

Betty bravely traveled by train from Pittsburgh to Oxnard, Calif., alone with three children under 3 years old, when she was 24 years old. Over the years, Betty took many road trips with her husband, Jack, and growing family, to visit family in Pittsburgh. Through the years, Betty traveled to Hawaii, Europe, Mexico and Canada. Her last plane trip was an Honor Flight for veterans to the memorials in Washington, D.C. She was 88 years old.

Betty married her childhood sweetheart, John “Jack” Leonard, on Aug. 9, 1945, in McKees Rocks. He was in the Army and she was in the Navy, so they were married in uniform. They were married for more than 58 years when Jack died in 2004.

Betty and family lived in Pittsburgh; Oxnard; Roger Young Village in Griffith Park; San

Fernando and Buena Park, Calif., before moving to Coeur d'Alene in 1976 with their youngest child, Bonnie. Betty remained in that same house in Coeur d'Alene from 1976 until shortly before her passing.

Betty and Jack played with various bridge groups until Betty was 88. They bowled in leagues into their 70s. They coached and managed various softball and baseball teams of their children and grandchildren over the years.

Family was everything to Betty. She traveled into her late 80s to attend weddings, graduations and other events of children and grandchildren. Betty also enjoyed crossword puzzles, See's candy and gossip magazines such as People and National Enquirer.

Betty was predeceased by her husband, John Leonard, Sr., and son, Douglas Leonard.

Betty is survived by a large family across the United States: her sister, Lynn Knechtel (Scotty) of Pennsylvania; her children, Karen Cecil and spouse, Bill; Jacquelyn Skillens and spouse, Joe; Patricia Gonzales; Mary Spalliero and spouse, Dave; John Leonard, Jr.; Elizabeth Ricciardi and her spouse, Chuck; and Deena Leonard, all of Coeur d’Alene; and Bonnie Davey and spouse, Drew, of Mesa, Ariz.; and grandchildren; great-grandchildren; friends of the family; “Back East” relatives; in-laws and such, too numerous to mention.

We will have a family celebration of life in lieu of a funeral, at which her large family will gather at her house and tell Betty stories while living some of Betty’s sage advice, such as eating the crust of the bread to get curly hair, keeping their hair out of their face, wearing lipstick to keep from being too pale, not running with scissors and putting a hat on the baby.

If you wish to make a donation, we suggest the Honor Flight of Spokane, (Betty considered her trip a highlight of her life) or Hospice.

Yates Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. Please visit Betty’s online memorial and sign her guest book at