Obituaries – the stuff you never thought to write

Carl and Chris Leisure, June 2010

I promised my mother that I’d learn to play Clair de Lune – Claude Debussy’s romantic piano composition (third movement of his Suite bergamasque) – so I could play it at her funeral.  I never did – I never learned to play piano.  I think it was a joke between us – she couldn’t die because I couldn’t play.

But in truth, she could.  And she decided to avoid funerals, graves, memorials and markers.

She also asked me to write the obituary for both of my parents, and publish it after her death.  That was something I could manage.  Here it is – as it will appear in that tiny hometown paper I grew up with.


Catherine Christie (Cunningham) Leisure, January 10, 1918 – October 28, 2012

Carl William Leisure, September 7, 1913 – April 17, 2011

Carl Leisure, son of Claude B. Leisure and Lura May (Pearson) Leisure, died April 17, 2011.  Christie (Cunningham) Leisure, daughter of Philip R. Cunningham and Mayme Gertrude (Haller) Cunningham, died October 28, 2012.  Carl and Chris were married on August 28, 1945 – their marriage lasted over 65 years.

At Christie Leisure’s request, this notice includes recognition of both of their lives.

Carl Leisure was the second child of Claude and Lura Leisure; his sister Mildred (Leisure) Irwin died in 2001.  He was born in Rush County; his family moved to Rush County in the 1830s.  Carl was a graduate of Ball State University in Botany.  A World War II veteran, he served in Africa in the medical corps and later took that medical training to a career in hospital laboratories in Henry, Rush, Hancock and Putnam counties.

Christie Leisure was the eldest child of Philip and Mayme Cunningham; her brother Philip died in 1973; her sister Hinda (Cunningham) Westfall is still living.  She was born in Escanaba, Michigan.  She was a medical stenographer, but also a finely trained mezzo-soprano.

Carl and Chris met at the end of World War II at a hospital in Nevada, and often spoke of combining their libraries – as each owned a ton of books when they married.  Those two tons continued to grow.  Any book was read; many were read often.  They passed this passion for information along to their three children: William Rhodam (Rod) (1946-2011), John Edwards and Sabra Caroline (Leisure) Briere.

Carl’s love of botany was demonstrated by his life-long excitement at growing and breeding plants.  They were members of several garden clubs, including (most recently) the Rainbow Coleus garden club in New Castle.  Carl and Chris also demonstrated their interest in handicrafts and food.  Carl won many prizes at the Indiana State Fair for his knitting and other needlecraft; he learned to knit by un-knitting baby clothes intended for his eldest son, Rod.

Carl and Chris shared a love for liberal politics, musical theater, and each other.

For many years, Carl had expressed the desire to live to be 100; he didn’t quite make it.  And with his death, Christie ceased to be interested in sticking around much longer.  She died peacefully at home, listening to Frank Sinatra.

They are survived by their children John and Sabra, seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

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