Beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend Shirley Bluitt Leonard passed away on Sunday, April 13, surrounded by her family. Mrs. Leonard was born in Mexia, TX to John C. Bluitt and Katie Wiley Bluitt Hurd. She graduated from Dunbar High School of Mexia in 1953. In 1956, she received the B.A. degree in Business from Wiley College in Marshall, TX. She earned the Master of Education from Prairie View A&M University (formerly Prairie View A&M College) in 1964. It was at Prairie View A&M University, on the steps of Suarez Hall, that she met, courted for two years, and later married her soul mate and husband of 50 years Joe. E. Leonard, Sr. on February 28, 1964. Joe and Shirley Leonard graduated from the Master's program at PVAMU, marching together in May, 1964. She soon became certified as an educator in the State of Texas in Supervision and as a Reading Specialist, and subsequently took graduate education courses at the University of North Texas and Colorado University in Denver.
Mrs. Leonard's lifelong passion was educating others. During the course of her professional career, she taught in the Cleburne Independent School District, Aldine I.S.D., Austin I.S.D., and served as a Reading Specialist throughout the state of Texas. In the latter role, she supervised and coordinated the Title I Reading Program for the Austin Independent School District and coordinated programs for the Texas Youth Commission, formerly known as the Texas Youth Council. Mrs. Leonard was also a small business entrepreneur who owned and operated a beauty and fashion boutique for several years.
Shirley Leonard was a 60-year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. As such, she contributed significantly to the cause of Educational Leadership in the Austin community. Her hobbies included stock market investing, U.S. financial market analysis, traveling and socializing with members of her bridge club, owning race horses, and cattle ranching. Mrs. Leonard was preceded in death by her mother and father, and leaves to mourn her husband of 50 years, Joe E. Leonard, Sr.; a son, Dr. Joe E. Leonard, Jr. and wife Natasha; and daughter, Dr. Sherry K. Leonard-Foots and husband Lawrence. She was a proud and doting grandmother to Naaman Roberson of Garland, TX and Cole Leonard of Washington, DC. Mrs. Leonard, a vivacious, spirited, and loving presence among her family, friends, and the many students she taught over the years, will be deeply missed.
The family wishes to express sincere thanks to the staff of the Pflugerville Care Center for their care and compassion for both Mrs. Leonard and family during her final days.
A memorial service will be held at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX on Saturday, April 26, at 10:00 a.m.
Obituary and memorial guestbook available online at www.wcfish.com
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Apr. 20 to Apr. 21, 2014