January 31, 1924 – March 3, 2020
Kurt Leichter’s 96 year journey in the county he always held dear ended March 3, 2020 as he passed away at home surrounded by family.
He had a most interesting life and most marveled at his stories of survival and gratitude.
Kurt was born in Vienna, Austria in 1924 to Bela Leichter, advertising executive for the Neue Freie Presse, and Clair Costa Leichter, retired opera singer and daughter of the founding director of the Josefstader Theatre in Vienna. Clair died in 1936 and Bela worked at the newspaper until Hitler invaded Austria in 1938. Kurt’s father, along with many other Jewish people, were detained by the German Nazi S.S. and jailed in Vienna. Upon his release, having had their home and all possessions confiscated, Kurt and his father were given 72 hours to arrange passage out of Austria.
Due to closed United States immigration quotas, his Hungarian born father immigrated to London, England and thirteen year old Austrian born Kurt fled to the U.S. by himself. He made his way to New York to live with distant family friends and later was sent to a trade school which happened to be in Oklahoma.
Through the help and kindness of the ladies Jewish League in Oklahoma City, Kurt found work as a jewelry apprentice at the age of sixteen. The apprenticeship placed him on a path that would provide the education and background to a very successful career. Many long time Oklahomans will remember Treasures, Inc., established in 1957, by Kurt and his late wife, Sydney. Treasures, Inc. became one of the leading and most fashionable jewelry stores in the state of Oklahoma.
After 34 years in business, Kurt retired and upon retirement his interest in photography flourished. He was privileged to be the very first amateur to be invited for a one man show at the International Photography Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 1995. Kurt was invited to show in Vienna, Austria in an exhibition designed for photographers who were born in Austria but forced to flee during the Nazi occupation. This exhibition at the Kunsthalle Wein in Museumquartier in Vienna traveled Austria and Europe for one year.
A true philanthropist at heart, Kurt supported many educational endeavors through endowments and scholarships at Oklahoma City University and many other colleges. He gave of himself as he served on many community and church boards such as Habitat for Humanity, Crime Stoppers, and was a Trustee Emeritus at Oklahoma City University. Kurt was proud to be a 32 ½ degree Mason and a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Edmond.
Kurt was honored with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Oklahoma City University, the Bishop Paul W. Milhouse Award from the United Methodist Foundation and the Habitat for Humanity Inspiration Award.
Kurt lived in Edmond with his wife of twenty-six years, Cathy and has one daughter, Larisa Leichter Turner and husband, Mike.
A Celebration of a Life Well Lived will be held Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 2:00pm at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church downtown campus.
Donations may be made to Mercy Health Foundation Leichter Women’s Fund, 13321 N Meridian Ave. #206, Oklahoma City, OK 73120 or the charity of your choice.
- Jerry Thomason, Honorary Pallbearer
- Hank Kittrell, Honorary Pallbearer
- Gary Johnston, Honorary Pallbearer
- Gary Zenker, Honorary Pallbearer
- Leon Fortner, Honorary Pallbearer
- Dale Holland, Honorary Pallbearer
- Mo Grotjohn, Honorary Pallbearer
- Herman Meinders, Honorary Pallbearer
- Memorial Service Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Nancy Kline Resendez
March 8, 2020
Some of my fondest childhood memories were spent with Uncle Kurt and my Aunt Sydney. Ever summer we went to Oklahoma and they would take it to the 4th of July celebration where Red Skelton would preform. I was always memorized by the firework show and Kurt would tell me how the diamonds sparkle like the fireworks on display. They would let us go to Treasures and see all the sparkling jewelry and always made us Kline’s feel extra special. Our brother James worked for them for years as we all had a job if we wanted or needed one. I hated that we lost touch after my aunt passed then 3 years ago I got to reconnect with my “gentle giant” I loved him dearly and it is a hugh loss to the community as well as Kathy who was always so welcoming to us . Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you❤️❤️
March 7, 2020
I grew up knowing Kurt Leichter from the time he was about 20 years old. s a young man he worked around
I knew Kurt since he was around 20 years old. He was working around Shreveport, La when he met and married my sister Sydney Kline. He and Sydney along the with my wife and me made many trips together. He would spot a building or something that caught his interest and out come his camera. I have many of his photos that he took along the way. The two of them with my wife and me traveled together on vacation for many years until Sydney passed away in 1995 . Rest in peace Kurt ...God gave you a good life
shreveport, La where he met an married my sister Sydney Kline
Lois & John Salmeron
March 6, 2020
John and I have been honored to consider Kurt and Cathy friends. Our paths have crossed in various ways, but interesting ones. We shopped at his business: Treasures, Inc. and have interesting conversations at various social gatherings in the community.
Thanks, Kurt, for ALL that you have done for Oklahoma City University as well as for the Oklahoma City community.
Rest in peace as you have lived a valued life that gave much to this world.