January 8, 1919 – April 6, 2021
“Our hero, our mentor, our Mom, Marthabelle Leonard, passed away on April 6 at the age of 102.
Growing up, Marthabelle did not have an idyllic childhood, which she more than made up for when raising her children. She faced the hardship of going through her parents’ divorce, and then had her own mother fall ill to cancer. Marthabelle took on the burden of being her mother’s caregiver as a teenager. She was ultimately left on her own after her mother’s death when she was merely 16 years old. She rented a room and worked until she graduated from Clinton High School in 1937. That is just who she was, no excuses to be made if you want to succeed.
After high school graduation, Marthabelle moved to the “Big City”—Kansas City— to live with her Aunt Trixie. It was during the Great Depression, and she was cautioned she would not be able to find a job, but that did not deter her. She began work at Hall Brothers, where she started as an airbrush artist and worked in various departments.
In 1941, FDR, wanted faster communication technology. A trailblazer by nature Marthabelle moved to Washington DC to help establish the first offset printing plant for the government’s Office of Emergency Management. She became the head of several departments and was eventually sent to ten major cities to establish satellite printing plants. In each city she installed technical equipment and assisted with training employees. In 1944, she moved to San Francisco, where she rebuilt discarded printing equipment and trained the Nation’s military men to operate the machinery. She was not intimated by a challenge, let alone a man.
When her Aunt Trixie became sick, she returned to Kansas City to help her. Marthabelle was fiercely loyal and innately compassionate. It was by fate her move back had an important purpose, which revealed itself when she met her husband in Kansas City, at age 28. Henry Richards Leonard, a civil engineer, courted Marthabelle and charmed her with his intelligence, enough so that she agreed to his hand in marriage. They married in 1950 and had three children. They had a fabulous marriage until his untimely death in 1969. She would not marry again, however her life remained full of love from family, friends, and of course some male admirers.
In 1956, she founded Marthabelle’s Print Shop, a company that she ran for 33 years. At that time her son, Henry E. Leonard assumed leadership and Marthabelle “retired” for 10 years. Unable to stay away, her adoring son convinced “The Boss” to return to the print shop, where she ended up working until she was 98 1/2. The printing business was a perfect fit for her because she understood and knew how to do every aspect of the business, from running the presses to creating the designs to selling the product. She was an impressive woman of infinite talents.
Marthabelle was involved in many activities, too many to name. She was a member of Community Christian Church where served as a Deaconess. She belonged to the Leawood Women’s Club and led several of the subgroups. She had a heart for the elderly who lived in nursing homes. She especially took an interest in those who had no money and and no family to visit. She decorated their rooms for the holidays and mended their clothes. It goes without saying, we as her family will probably never realize the magnitude of her impact on others.
In addition to her activities, some of her hobbies included cooking, gardening, sewing, and beading jewelry. She was wildly creative, and she made the world more beautiful with her creations.
Traveling was another favorite hobby of hers. She attended printing conventions, frequented the Lake of the Ozarks, and made it down to Branson to catch her fair share of shows in Branson with her equally adventurous son, her #1 companion. She traveled extensively, to places across the world. She especially fancied the time she spent in Australia and China.
She had many friend groups, of all ages. She was a remarkable conversationalist and captivating story teller who loved to fix lunch for her audience. At least once a week you could find her chatting and laughing with her breakfast group at McDonald’s. People were instantly drawn to her magnetic personality. She collected friends effortlessly. It came as no surprise her 100th birthday party was standing room only.
Her greatest pride was her children, her granddaughter, and her great-grandson. She is survived by her daughters, Rebecca Leonard Hyder (Tim), Martha Leonard Voight (Patrick), her granddaughter, Elizabeth Hyder Page (Mike), and her great-grandson, Harrison Forrest Page. She is also survived by her dearest best friend and high school classmate Mary Miner and her sweet dog Millie. She was preceded in death by her beloved son Henry E. Leonard
Marthabelle was an inspiration, a Matriarch, a feisty spirit who lit up the world around her. If you met her you were surely better off because of it. Her presence on earth and the blessings she brought have become unforgettable memories held securely in the hearts of everyone she knew. Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma, Our Guardian Angel, we miss you always and forever.
For those interested in paying their respects, events will take place at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri:
Public Visitation will be held on Thursday, April 15th from 5:00 pm- 7:00 pm
Public Graveside Service will be held on Friday, April 16th at 2:00 pm with a Celebration of Life at her granddaughter’s house to follow
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to one of Marthabelle’s preferred charities:
Shriner’s Children’s Hospital City Union Mission”
- Arley Smith, Father (deceased)
- Brobecca (McMurtry) Smith, Mother (deceased)
- Henry Richards Leonard, Husband (deceased)
- Henry E. Leonard, Son (deceased)
- Rebecca Leonard Hyder (Tim), Daughter
- Martha Leonard Voight (Patrick), Daughter
- Elizabeth Hyder Page (Mike), Granddaughter
- Harrison Forrest Page, Great-grandson
- Mary Miner, Best Friend
- Mille, Sweet Dog
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Friday, April 16, 2021
Betsy Donnelly Greg Pitts
April 11, 2021
Dear Martha and Pat, We share in the grief you must feel for your beloved mother's loss, and we hope the Good Lord graces you with strength and courage in the days ahead. We send our friendship and love today.
April 10, 2021
Marthabelle was my last cousin and the only family I was close to. Her mother was living with us while
seeing a doctor and Marthabelle was attending school in their hometown. In the summer of 1935 Aunt
Brody (Marthabelle's mother) passed away. Marthabelle stayed with my family every summer until she
graduated from high school. I was 10 and a handful. Poor Marthabelle was stuck as my baby sitter. As I
grew up we became buddies. I always felt that I owed Marthabelle for what I put her through when I
was a little kid,
The next time I saw Marthabelle was in San Francisco in the winter of 1945. I was a Navy Ensign
stationed at Treasure Island. Marthabelle was a Xerox trainer/trouble shooter working with a company
who recently obtained Xerox machines. Marthabelle traveled all over the country installing and trouble
shooting Xerox equipment. That was when I realized that Marthabelle was fearless and would succeed
in anything she set her mind to.
Marthabelle and Hank brought their the family for a visit in the late 60s. My daughter Carol and Becky
became instant soulmates. When I began traveling back and forth to Washington, DC as part of my job
at TRW, I would drop in to Kansas City and visit Marthabelle. She would lend me her little red VW
bug so I could visit friends in Northeast KC. Beginning in 2009, Carol and I would visit KC twice a
It was during these visits that I attended the McDonald's morning coffee group. It was a great group of
people who welcomed me with open arms. This group loved Marthabelle and took good care of her
whenever she was sick.
Marthabelle was an outstanding individual and I was lucky to have her as my cousin. I will miss her
April 10, 2021
April 10, 2021
Kim and Buddy Wyre
April 9, 2021
Becky and Family,
Thinking of you and sending you and your loved ones our sympathies on the recent loss of your Mom. XO
April 8, 2021
Marthabelle was legendary in Kansas City. Her love for her family and friends overflowed to all who’s life was touched by her. Blessings over her life, and blessings to her children. I am sad to say goodbye.
April 8, 2021
I met Marthabelle around 36 years ago at the McDonald’s in Corinth while being home from Belgium for a visit to my family and started talking with her. Every summer I would return and see her and eventually moved back to Kansas City and continued this wonderful friendship over the years where my children grew up knowing her. She was an amazing woman and I will miss her very much. Our McDonald’s group where we met every Saturday and Sunday will miss her also.
April 8, 2021
My Mom,Max and Dad,John always talked about Marthabelle and the fun they had meeting with the McDonalds gang at 95th. When ever I was in town I would join them and later when my parents passed away- my husband and I moved to Overland Park and I continued the tradition. Loved talking with Marthabelle about the many interests we both shared. She will be missed! Prayers to her family.
April 8, 2021
Having been raised during the depression by a widowed mother, I always admired Marthabelle. When we started our printing business she became not only a friendly competitor but a personal heroine. Whenever Henry and I spoke, my first question was always "How's your mother". Your family is in our thoughts and prayers during this celebration of a great lady's beautiful life.
April 7, 2021
I met Marthabelle through Henry and our church, Community Christian on the Plaza. We went to Sunday School there together for a long time, maybe years. We also created beaded jewelry together, among other things, and appreciated that we had similar views and interests. She resembled my beloved maternal grandmother in so many ways; grandmother died two weeks short of 98 years old while I was busy with a career and Marthabelle, unexpectedly, healed a part of my heart that was still silently lingering in grief. I relished every minute with Marthabelle. The grief has returned, now for M., but it’s tinged with joy in knowing what a privilege it was to share time with her and enjoy life together, even though we met late in her time on earth. There is no replacement for her; so unique! May she rest in peace forever. Deepest sympathy to the family in their time of need; peace be with them.❤️