Elsie Leary went peacefully to her rest on December 22, 2012, with her son Kevin and daughter Shauna at her side. Her husband of 66 years, Dr. Jack Leary, preceded her in death this past January. She was 89 years of age. Elsie was born on September 5, 1923 in Wellsville, NY. She was preceded in death by her parents, Harry & Anna; her brothers Carl Monroe & Russell Shirey; and her daughter Melissa Pahn.
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Elsie attended a Seventh-day Adventist elementary school in Wellsville, NY, and graduated from Berrien Springs Academy in the class of 1941. She went away to Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, MA for the first 2 years of college where she dreamed of going west to complete her nursing education. So, as a young woman of 19 years of age, she boarded a train, with a suitcase of belongings, headed to Glendale, California where she was enrolled in the bachelor's nursing program at Glendale Adventist Hospital. While in her senior year of nursing, she met a tall handsome medical student who was shy and bright. With common goals and a desire to spend their lives together, they were married at the Wee Kirk of the Heather in Glendale, CA. Elise graduated and obtained her RN while her husband completed his internship at Los Angeles County Hospital.
Elsie had many dreams and talents. She dreamed of having 7 boys, traveling the world, except Alaska where it was too cold, supporting her husband's career and raising their family in the Seventh-day Adventist church. She volunteered teaching children in Sabbath School; she was President of the San Joaquin Co. Women's Medical Auxiliary as well as the Loma Linda Women's Medical Auxiliary. In 1961, she founded the volunteer Candy Striper program at Lodi Memorial Hospital. She was a past president of the Lodi Garden Club remaining an active member until her death. She created and produced the six past president Memory Books, spoke on various bird topics while doing one of her famous Chalk Talks (illustrating in chalk on a large tablet as she spoke). Her passion for birds, gardens, and history led her to the San Joaquin Historical Society & Museum where she was a docent and an active member earning her 19 year pin. It was here that she lectured, told Indian stories to children and gave tours to traveling groups. Elsie authored and illustrated a small book on Indians and the Grasses of the SJ Valley and created a coloring book for children used as a fund raiser. An enjoyable and rewarding activity was 5 years at Lodi SDA Elementary School as their Librarian where she supported students with choice of reading books, selections of reading for their assignments, storytelling and being a compassionate listener.
Although very active in the community and her church, she was a devoted wife and loving mother with a spirit of adventure, love of birds and gardens, music, water color art & history.
Elsie's survivors include: Son Kevin (Heidi) Leary; two daughters Jenanne (Robert) Rodriguez and Shauna (John) Unser. Grandchildren, Chase and Jacqueline Leary, Loni Unser, Trevor and Christopher Pahn; two step grandchildren, Jonathan Rodriguez and Erica (Matt) Hazlett; two great grandchildren, Madelina and Christian Hazlett.
In lieu of flowers a suggested memorial: Lodi Educational Endowment Fund (LEEF), benefiting Lodi Academy and Elementary School Scholarships and projects. P.O. Box 272, Lodi, CA 95241.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, January 13, at 4:00 P.M. at the English Oaks Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1260 W. Century Blvd, Lodi.
Published in Lodi News-Sentinel from Jan. 1 to Jan. 9, 2013