We are celebrating the life of Mary Lavada Leicht who was born Mary Lavada Williams on December 26, 1923 in Blytheville, Arkansas. She was the oldest of seven children who were born to George and Anna Mae Williams. “Lavada” passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by the love and prayers of her family on April 9th, 2009 in Mesa Arizona.
She grew up through the “Great Depression” and “World War II”. Her family moved to Mount Vernon, Illinois and settled in Saint Louis, Missouri. During World War II she worked in a small arms plant doing secretarial work. Lavada met her husband, Kenny, the love of her life, in grade school but they lost touch when he went off to war. They re-met on a streetcar after World War II and fell in love. While dating they shared a passion for dancing and entered several dance marathons which they often won. They were champions at the “jitterbug” and also loved dancing to the music of the Big Bands. They were married in 1946 while still living in St. Louis. While there they had their two daughters, Janis and Linda and later after moving to California their son Jerry was born. They continued to dance the “jitterbug” while all three children enthusiastically watched from the living room couch.
They moved West to be closer to Kenny’s sister, Geraldine Campbell, who married his best friend Bill. The two families were inseparable. Kenny and Lavada raised three children in the San Fernando Valley which is located in Los Angeles County. It was a glorious time to be in California while everything was wide open with orange orchards and horses grazing in pastures. They lived an hour from the beach where they spent a lot of their family time together. She had a Pioneer Spirit but missed her family back in Saint Louis.
While in California, she continued to dance and enjoyed learning new dances such as the Square dance and Line dance. As a family they went camping, hiking, boating, and water-skiing. They took full advantage of the wonderful California climate. In 1986 she lost her dear husband Kenny. As her children grew up, Linda and Jerry moved to Arizona while Janis remained in California.
The earthquake in 1994 shook her out of California and sent her to Arizona where her family anxiously awaited her arrival.
Lavada had grace, style, and sophistication. She had a “passion for fashion”. She loved traveling and going on cruises. She was a free spirit who loved to laugh and enjoyed her family and friends. She was an exceptional mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt and friend. The last few years of her life she found great joy with her Red Hat Sisters and her companion Harry whom she loved dearly.
The size of her heart could not be measured. She had endless love which she shared with everyone. Even on her deathbed the house was filled with all that loved her. Lavada was fun loving and had a zest for life. She was radiant until the very end.
Our dear, beautiful and elegant mother – we will love you and miss you forever but we know you are dancing still!