Allison Leon died of cancer on Oct. 5, 2012 at her home in Laramie, Wyo. She was born to Neville and Charles Kinsman on Oct. 5, 1940 in Coleshill, England.
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Her father was stationed in Kenya during WW II and she and her mother lived with her mother's parents in the bank manager's house in Coleshill. Despite the hardships of those times, she had fond memories of making unsupervised forays on her tricycle and of walking with her mother through the countryside. She did not meet her father until he returned from the war when she was five.
She attended Birmingham University in Birmingham, England where she earned a master's degree in Latin. It was in the university cafeteria that she met Melvin Leon who was in England as a post doctorate. The two married in 1963 and she returned with him to the USA. They had two children together and were married for forty-nine years.
Mel and Allison shared a love of the outdoors which was lucky for the children as it meant numerous hiking, camping, and backpacking trips in the decades that followed. They lived in Pittsburg, Pa. and Rensselaer, N.Y. before moving to Los Alamos in 1972. They remained in Los Alamos until 2001 when they began to divide their time between New Mexico and Laramie, Wyo. so she could be part of her grandson's life; they moved to Wyoming full time in 2011.
Allison was happiest out of doors, whether hiking or birding, running errands on her bike, enjoying a cup of tea in a favorite corner of the garden, or coaxing a foxglove into bloom in a patch of Wyoming shade; she was sustained by the beauty of the natural world. She read histories and natural histories of the places she had been or was interested in going rather than fiction, and never went anywhere without an armload of field guides.
The passing years found her as interested and active as ever, and it is a comfort that she was thriving until just a couple of months before her death. Although she was surprised and delighted by the vast and varied beauty of the North American contintent, she never stopped longing for England; the final weeks of her life found her paging through a picture book of the English countryside.
She is survived by her husband Melvin Leon, her son David Leon, daughter in law Marla Petersen, and grandson Casey Petersen all of Laramie, Wyo.; by her daughter Jennifer Leon of Los Alamos; by her sisters Rosemary Davies and Elizabeth Kinsman, and niece and nephew Wendy and Graham Davies, all of the U.K.. She is also survived by her dog Mushroom who rarely left her bedside during her illness. A memorial gathering will be held in Laramie, Wyo. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Nature Conservancy.
Published in Los Alamos Monitor from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, 2012