Mary Jean Leber was born Mary Jean Piper to John and Marian Piper on June 24, 1928 at Virginia Mason Hospital. She passed away on Jan 4, 2019.
Mary Jean was raised on Queen Anne Hill where she went to John Hay Grade school and graduated from Queen Anne High School in 1946. She earned a scholarship to Reed College where she met her future husband, Lewis F. Leber. Graduating with a degree in Education minoring in History, she went on to teach grade school in the Portland area and later in Seattle.
When Lewis was given his orders to go to Korea, they were married in a small ceremony on Oct 2, 1951. Their first child, a girl, was born in 1954 and there were 3 boys to follow. In 1955, they built a home on Mercer Island and stayed there for 60+ years.
Mom had an enormous amount of energy and along with raising a family; she was a political activist and volunteer. She worked for the Greater Church Council of Seattle and was a long time member of the Seattle Arboretum Club. Mom was very intellectually curious, a lifelong learner and avid reader. In her late 40s, she studied for a master’s at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Mom was known among her children’s peers as a warm and friendly person who always made our cousins and friends feel welcome in her home.
Mom was also an unbelievably hard worker. She LOVED to garden and would frequently spend all day working there. Neighbors and dog walkers would stop and admire her garden, the best one in the neighborhood. She passed this love of gardening to her youngest granddaughter, Kim. Many times she mentioned that she wanted to hire a landscape designer to build a Japanese style garden, but her style was better. She approached any other endeavor with equal zeal and an incredible eye to detail and a creative flair. Later when she could no longer garden she produced meticulous and beautiful needlepoints that her family will treasure for a long time to come.
Both sides of Mom’s family were early Seattle pioneers. Two of her great grandparents along with her grandmother came to Seattle on a stage coach via Olympia in the 1870s. I can remember sitting on the floor in front of my great grandmother’s chair listening to her story about the Great Seattle Fire.
After Dad died, Mom’s two granddaughters and grand son-in-law moved in with her. Two great grandchildren were born and brought home. Family was very important to her. Dad affectionately referred to her as “Mary Bear”. Mary’s great grandchildren called her “GG” and will remember sitting on her lap in her favorite chair, eating jelly beans and reading stories.
Mary is survived by her daughter Janet and sons Brock, Todd, and Matthew, grandchildren Rob, Katie, Kim, David and Blake and great grandchildren Ainsley and Pippin.
A memorial service will be held at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church on Saturday, February 9th at 3PM.