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October 28, 1921 – March 17, 2012
LOUISBURG, N.C. - Marjorie Louise Gardner Leonard – who cherished her family and friends, who loved the land of her family farm and the good life it provided and who possessed a zest for life in its fullest form every day – passed away Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Marjorie, born Oct. 28, 1921, died peacefully at Franklin Regional Medical Center following an extended illness. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Oakwood Cemetery, Louisburg.

In as much as she was a testament to the wonders of a giving and caring lifestyle all of her 90 years, she was a remarkable woman of first-time accomplishments and true dedication in her actions that translated into motivation and learning for others and garnished the love and respect of so many throughout her blessed life.

In her young family, she was the only girl to earn a four-year college degree, the first to own a car (a Ford) and the first woman in the area to fly an airplane solo under the instruction of Floyd Griffin in 1942, when she was just 21 years old.

She was courageous, and her gumption and love for education led her to teach sewing and home economics in her home community of Mapleville, at Vance-Granville Community College in the evenings for 60 years and at Louisburg High School and W.R. Mills High School in Louisburg – serving the county in public schools as a teacher for 45 years. She found much happiness in later years hearing from her students and how they had put those taught “life skills” to work.

Whether it was through decades of guiding and educating others or doing the work of often difficult and challenging farm life, Marjorie passionately lived her life’s motto of doing her part in this world to make it a better place. “I will do my part,” she would often state, and then she would follow up with committed and focused action. She was a woman of her word.

That spark was one of a pioneer who would speak up for equal pay and treatment for women in the workplace. Marjorie was a firm believer for equal rights among all, and she was active in her community on local issues – outspoken in many areas of concern for Franklin County and a leader in her own rank. She was active, too, in many professional organizations, serving as president and as district and state advisor for the Future Homemaker Association and was an officer in many other organizations.

She held a bachelor of science degree from East Carolina in home economics and science, a master’s degree from UNC-Greensboro in the same area of study and had completed work in pursuing her PhD at UNC-Greensboro. Her accomplished goal throughout her life was to learn something new every day.

Her most grand loves were those around her on the family’s Mapleville Community farm – Leonard Farm - an enterprise she managed and operated from 1996 until recent months. Her husband, Quinton Samuel Leonard, passed away in September of 1996.

Married on June 23, 1945, Marjorie and Quinton had four children, two surviving into adulthood – Martha L. Mobley and Quinton S. Leonard III, who passed away in March of 2006. Martha, also dedicated to an agricultural way of life, is an extension agent for the N.C. Extension Service in Franklin County. Martha and husband Steve live in the Mapleville Community on the farm.

Marjorie had much pride and true joy from her children. Son Quinton was a member of the 1983 Cardiac Pack (National Championship) Team under NCSU Coach Jim Valvano among other accomplishments that gave Marjorie enjoyable bragging rights, and Martha was her constant friend, companion and devoted daughter. Together they shared a bond of respect and love, continually evident by those who knew them well together or who had only met them.

Marjorie would always step up in time of need for family and friends. Her yeast rolls and pound cakes were the most sought after among the excellent cook’s recipes, and often she would cook to show her support when others needed her. She loved good, fresh, local foods and supported many efforts to educate others – young and old - about their nutrition and importance. She directed many weddings and took great pleasure in being part of couples starting out their lives together. And, one particular favorite, which continued through her lifetime, was a liking to Buick autos, a favorite of her husband’s as well. Marjorie always drove a Buick.

Marjorie had the distinction of being the oldest, longest-attending member of the O. Henry Bookclub in Louisburg. A member for 70 years, she found strong friendships within the club and enjoyed their shared love to read. She attended Maple Springs Baptist Church.

The third child out of seven - born to Martha Louise Griffin Gardner and Walter Delifate Gardner - Marjorie will be missed by many who knew and loved her. She will live forever in the hearts and memories of those she touched so dearly and so wonderfully.

Marjorie has one surviving sister, Ollie Mae G. Batts of Elm City, NC and a sister-in-law, Betsy Leonard Pernell of Mapleville. Her beloved grandson, Quinton S. Leonard IV, is of Palmyra, Penn. Her daughter-in-law is Laura Wasson Leonard and, special longtime friend and caregiver, Joyce “Sweet” Green.

Marjorie is preceded in death by sisters Gladys Pittman, Mary Ruth Owens, Alice “Shine” Batts, Florence “Pete” Barnes, Susan “Susie” Vick. Also she is preceded in death by a brother who lived only one day – Hyman Morris Gardner.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Marjorie Leonard Women in Agriculture Scholarship Fund in care of Marie Boyette, BB&T, P.O. Box 464, Louisburg, NC 27549.

 Family will receive friends at the Mobley home, 571 Leonard Farm Road, Louisburg at all times.

Funeral arrangements are by Strickland Funeral Home & Crematory, Louisburg, www.stricklandfuneralhome.net.

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