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Life Story / Obituary
Sue Leonard was a very caring woman who modeled a lifetime of hard work and sincere compassion for others. Her home was welcoming and she never let anyone leave hungry! Sue was known for her goofy smile, warm heart, and cheerful demeanor. She was a loving and supportive wife, mother, grandmother, and a cherished friend to many. Gone too soon, Sue’s kindness and friendship will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.
The 1950s were known as the decade of the baby boomer and the modern American family. Exciting times indeed with the many talents of the professional baseball player, Mickey Mantle, the rock music icon, Elvis Presley, and movie heartthrob, James Dean. Television was growing in its popularity and families joined together in living rooms across the nation to catch the latest episodes of the popular western, Gunsmoke. Proud parents Willis and Betty (Casteel) Allen welcomed home their newborn daughter, Susan on September 12, 1951, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Born the oldest child in the family, she was the light of their lives.
Sue grew up on the family farm in Bloomingdale. She and her siblings enjoyed countless hours in the sunshine and getting into their fair share of mischief. Each of them took turns at the day-to-day chores of managing the farm and sold sweet corn out of the back of the family station wagon to earn money for school clothes. Growing up on a farm meant a slower lifestyle and while having a pet skunk would be considered out of the ordinary for most people, it came all to easily for little Susan. Naturally, this came with certain risks, and she talked of being sprayed often! As a teen, Sue could keep up with the best of the boys. She excelled at sports and enjoyed fishing with her brothers and dad. She and her sisters even grew accustomed to hopping on the local trains to get to town. She graduated from Loy Norrix High School and, with her compassionate instincts, set her sights on helping others.
Young and carefree, she met the love of her life, Dennis Leonard, while working for a window and door manufacturing company in Florida. They were a perfect match! He enjoyed her silliness and she enjoyed that he was willing to put up with her quirks! Dennis pursued her with patience and persistence until she finally said yes and they joined in marriage and started a family. As a mom, Sue was very supportive of her children. She enjoyed fixing their favorite meals and spending time at the local races in Galesburg or the Kalamazoo Speedway where the kids could roam fairly free, making a game of climbing over and under the bleachers! She taught her children to look on the bright side of life and that doing good for others was something to be proud of. Nothing brought her heart more joy than entertaining a large crowd in her home where she was sure to serve a small feast and delectable desserts. Family meant everything to Sue and there was never any doubt that she loved each and every one of them beyond measure.
As her children grew older, Sue and Dennis enjoyed many of life’s simple pleasures. They frequented the slot machines at local casinos, spent all day on the water in a fishing boat, or would take long rides on the weekends simply to see what they’d find. There was never a dull moment with Sue! She loved listening to her favorite Patsy Cline or Elvis tunes and allowed the day to unfold before her with a heart of gratitude. Fishing with her dad and playing Bingo with her mom and sisters became a regular routine for her and she never passed up any opportunity to get together with her loved ones. When grandchildren arrived, she was over the moon! Much like when her children grew up, Sue always had sweet treats, homemade cakes, and ice cream sandwiches ready for their visits. Her granddaughter was lucky to learn some of Sue’s secrets at baking and her grandson was happy to have her unending support for his soccer successes. She liked telling them stories or giving them her words of wisdom and guidance over the years.
Sue also enjoyed her career as a dietary manager in area nursing homes. Her co-workers enjoyed her sense of humor and her ability to take the most challenging situation and find the joy in it. Sue lead with a servants heart and had a real gift for connecting with the elderly and loved to listen to their stories. She was especially proud when her daughter, Bonny, followed in her footsteps. Sue was also excited that Tiffany attended nursing school and that her son had found the path forward in his life. She wanted nothing more than to share in their many successes.
Sue was a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and leaned on her faith in God to see her through hard times. When Dennis passed, her independent side became more evident. She rarely asked for help and preferred to figure things out on her own. Sue’s sarcasm and snappy comments at just the right moment will surely be missed. May her legacy of spending quality time with family and modeling empathy for others be a guiding light for all those she leaves behind.
Susan Leonard, age 69, of Mattawan, Michigan, died peacefully at home surrounded by her family on March 25, 2021. Sue was preceded in death by her husband, Dennis; siblings: Debbie Richter, Teri Leach, and Thomas Cole; and her parents. Surviving are her children: Bonny (Chris) Laws and Dennis Leonard; grandchildren: Tiffany and Corey; siblings: David Allen, Robert Allen, and Jimmy Allen; and many special nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place. Visit Sue’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Susan G. Komen Foundation. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.