Wilda Jean (Swain) Leach passed away peacefully in her sleep at home surrounded by family at the age of 91 on December 7, 2018. Known most of her life as "Billie," she was born on March 25, 1927, in Franklin County, Ohio, to Kathryn Elizabeth Perdue Swain and Robert Mitchell Swain.
Billie was one of three girls known as the Swain sisters, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio. As the youngest and as a bit of a tomboy, Billie was very close with her father Robert, while their mother Kathryn was busy keeping her sisters Vivian and DeDe's social calendars full.
In 1948, Billie accepted a marriage proposal from her future husband, Joseph P. Leach, then the youngest mayor of the United States at age 25 in Sharonville, Ohio. Billie finished college at Ohio State University and got married a few days later, their wedding taking place on July 31, 1949. For their honeymoon, the newlyweds packed up their Roadster and drove across country to California, where Joe Leach had a position awaiting him as city manager of Redondo Beach.
Billie became a school teacher at Dapplegray Intermediate School in Rolling Hills Estates. After welcoming two children, Cathy Anne (Cat) and Joseph Kevin, the family moved from Redondo Beach to the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Billie stayed home to raise the kids until returning to work in the Palos Verdes school district as a substitute teacher, librarian, and in the records and testing and evaluation departments. She lived in her Rolling Hills Estates home until her final days.
After her husband Joe passed away in 1985, Billie took to traveling, and was known for grabbing a pal and jumping in her trusty Honda Accord to take a spontaneous road trip.
Billie is survived by her daughter, Cat Spydell, and her son, Kevin Leach and his wife, Caroline, and her four grandchildren, Kodiak Spydell, Cassidy Spydell, Cameron Leach, and Connor Leach. She will be greatly missed.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Green Hills Memorial Park
27501 S. Western Avenue
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90274
Published in The Beach Reporter on Dec. 20, 2018.