A life well-lived, a woman well-loved…
Marie Feather Stewart O’Leary passed away on May 31, 2018, just shy of her 104th birthday. Her long life began as one of seven children of Minnie and Charlie Feather in Hannibal, MO. The family farmed 80 acres in Pike County, MO, where Marie did chores, picked pansies, listened to her mother read, played with her siblings, and dreamed of seeing the world. And see the world she did!
After beginning her teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse, she later thrived as a special education teacher, footsteps followed by her late granddaughter Ashley Johnson, who taught at Florence Elementary. Marie married Fred Stewart, an Army officer who served in World War II, who passed away in 1967 after they raised two children, who survive them, Jeanne Ledbetter of Cañon City and James (Arlene) Stewart of Fountain Hills, AZ. After she retired, Marie continued to live in the Chicago area, which served as her home base as she traveled, including a trip around the world that included one of her favorite memories, standing on the Cape of Good Hope. She would later marry Patrick O’Leary with whom she shared many more adventures, including a trip to Ireland where she kissed the Blarney Stone.
After several years as snowbirds, they moved to the Phoenix area where they continued their travels, often to Las Vegas and San Diego. After Pat’s death, Marie relocated to Cañon City, CO where she lived for 13 years as an active member of the community. Marie was a member of the DK Chapter of P.E.O., Zonta, New Neighbors, and several book clubs. She was also an avid volunteer all of her life. She volunteered for Meals on Wheels and the Fremont Center of the Arts. She was a staunch supporter of the Cañon City Public Library, just ask Gary. She was also a member of Presbyterian Churches everywhere she lived. Zonta recognized Marie as the Yellow Rose Woman of the Year in 2011 for her service to the community, incredible spirit, and generosity to friends and family. Last year she was the recipient of Fremont Exceptional Women’ s (FEW) Ruth Carter Award for Excellence of Character, an honor that truly thrilled her.
In addition to her service to the community, she loved walking, especially on the River Walk with her late son-in-law Tom Ledbetter. Tom and his adventurous family introduced her to the thrills of white-water rafting. She loved her rafting trips with them, taken while in her 90’s. She enjoyed cross word puzzles and reading, especially Tony Hillerman novels. Throughout her life, she wrote stories for her grandchildren, journals for her memories, and poetry for anyone who was interested. Towards the end of her life, when reading and writing became difficult, she enjoyed watching the birds out her window and episodes of MASH and Murder She Wrote on DVD.
Most of all, Marie enjoyed gatherings of friends and family. She was known to enter an event with the refrain, “I’m here, now the party can begin!” She leaves many friends to cherish their memories of her, including close friends who helped with her care: Janet Bergin, Stacey Cline, Emma Creany, Annie Ford, Cheryl Henderson, Della Rieger, and Forrest Vlahogeorge. In addition to her children, she leaves a family of nieces, nephews, and grandchildren who will also miss her dearly. Her grandchildren Mindy (Gary) Minor of Cañon City, CO, Matt (Wendy) Johnson of Pearland, TX, Lance (Pam) Stewart of Sugar Land, TX, and Kristina Perkins of Scottsdale, AZ will continue to share their memories with Marie’s nine great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. Also cherishing their memories of Marie are Tom’s family, including his sister Jo Ellen Sutter of Houston, TX and daughters Jeri (Larry Stevens) Ledbetter of Flagstaff, AZ and Jaque Ledbetter of Garden Valley, ID. Marie’s former son-in-law, Rusty Johnson and his wife Dianna of Memphis, TN also had a special bond with Marie and have many memories of sharing Jim Beam and reading her poetry.
Marie was a role model for all who knew her. Her grace, charm, compassion and wit encouraged everyone to strive to live long like Marie. Almost all who knew her have said something to the effect of, “When I grow up, I want to be like Marie!”
Special thanks to the wonderful people of Fremont Regional Hospice for their compassionate care of Marie and her family. Also, many thanks to her visitors from P.E.O, the Presbyterian Church, and her book club. At Marie’s request, the family is planning a celebration of her life sometime this summer. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Zonta Club of the Royal Gorge Region in Marie’s name. Checks can be mailed to Zonta, PO Box 1573, Cañon City, CO 81215. Arrangements entrusted to Harwood Funeral Home. Online condolences at Harwoodfunerals.com.
Old Age by Marie O’Leary
I refuse to view my life in retrospect
Even as I am aware of the rapid passing of time
I remain eager to embrace each day
To begin the plan for the next adventure