Shirley Usher Leonard passed away peacefully on January 6 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. She was 95 years old.
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Shirley was born in 1923 is Dickson City, Pennsylvania, to Raymond Usher and Henrietta (Teddy) Letts. The family moved to New York City when Shirley was young, and she was educated in New York public schools. She was an accomplished pianist, and she graduated from the new High School of Music and Art in 1939. She worked for Consolidated Edison Company after graduation.
Shirley’s first husband, Gustave Erikson, died in 1944 in the battle for Aachen, the first German city to fall to the Allies in World War II. In 1947, Shirley married Frank Leonard and retired from the workforce to raise her family as a stay-at-home mother. The family settled in Queens, NY, but moved to Fanwood and then Scotch Plains in the 1960’s. When her children were grown, Shirley returned to the workforce at Allstate Insurance in Berkley Heights until her retirement. She and Frank took many exciting trips, and she kept busy babysitting her grandchildren.
In her later years, Shirley enjoyed gardening, traveling and exercise classes at the Westfield Y, where she made many new friends. The last eight years of her life were spent at Sunrise Senior Living of Westfield. She was known there for her bright smile and sweet nature. As her health declined, she received additional care and support from Center for Hope Hospice. Her family is grateful to Sunrise and Center for Hope for the dedicated and loving staff who cared for Shirley so well.
Shirley is survived by her daughter Eileen Leonard (Dale Hagstrom) of Westfield and son Paul Leonard (Joan) of Fairview, Texas, and grandchildren Anne (Michael Varga) and Eric Hagstrom, and Jackson, Alex, and Samuel Leonard. She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 45 years, Frank.
For information about funeral arrangements, please contact Eileen Leonard at 908-789-9496.