Leah Graham Okemos Mrs. Leah Graham of Okemos died peacefully on Friday, October 12 with her family at her side. She was born December 14, 1935 in Ashtabula Ohio, the daughter of Harold and Bernice Louis. She prepared in the public schools of Ashtabula, graduated with honors in English literature from Wellesley College and later earned an MA in Education from Michigan State University. Leah began her teaching career shortly after college, with assignments in the public schools of Malden, Massachusetts, Arlington, Virginia, Ashtabula and Grand Ledge, Michigan. The majority of her teaching career was spent in the Lansing School District where she taught at Pattengill Junior High School, developing with her colleagues an imaginative team teaching program. Later in her career, she took on assignments as varied as Acting Principal of an elementary building and Language Arts Consultant for the District. She was especially concerned with and creative in the area of student writing, and developed an expertise that led to a second career as a consultant to schools in Michigan and Canada. A lover of classical, romantic and much other good music from folk songs to country, Leah was herself a fine pianist. She was also the sort of reader who always had a pile of books waiting, and in an age that has neglected poetry she was not only a reader but a writer of verse. It was difficult to quote a poetic line from any source, Shakespeare to Yeats that she could not complete from memory. She was also a "Quiz Kid" as a child, and wrote and acted in many dramatic productions. Leah grew up in a Jewish family, and was always proud of her heritage. A creative hostess and a superb cook, she created memorable celebrations of both Jewish and Christian holidays for her family, from the Passover Charoset to a famous annual Christmas tree decorating party. A major aspect of her Jewish inheritance was a keen awareness of injustice in the world, and she was an ardent champion of liberal and reform causes, especially those involving the welfare of children. As a girl, Leah was a horsewoman, competing successfully in show jumping meets. Throughout her life she brought to every challenge the same courage and grit that carried her over the hurdles of the show ring. Whether it was her teaching, her friendships, her moral causes or her family, she threw herself into her commitments with passion and determination tempered by high good humor and consummate grace. Leah is survived by Edward, her husband of 51 years, by their children Ann (Rob) of East Lansing and Peter (Mary) of East Lansing, and by grandchildren Sarah, Andrew and John Graham and Samuel Nichols, all of East Lansing. She is also survived by brothers Murray (Virginia) Louis of Devon, Pennsylvania and David (Pamela) Louis of Columbus, Ohio and by many cousins, nieces and nephews. An interfaith celebration of Leah's life will take place on Monday, November 12 at 11:00a.m. at The Peoples Church, 200 W. Grand River, East Lansing. In lieu of flowers, please honor Leah's memory by donating to the libraries of the Lansing Public School District C/O Sam Sinicropi, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, 519 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing, Michigan 48933. The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing. On line condolences may be made at www.greastlansing.com.
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Published in Lansing State Journal on Oct. 25, 2012