Kathleen Leutze
Kathleen Leutze

Obituary of Kathleen Leutze

Kathleen Erskine Leutze passed from this world on March 26 after a brief illness. She was raised in sunny Lake Worth, Florida, the child of Robert Sloan Erskine and Mary Shirley Erskine. She was surrounded by her adoring family at the time of her death.

Kathy attended Florida State University and then graduate school at the University of Miami where she met her future husband James Richard Leutze (Jim). They made several happy homes over the course of their marriage and raised three children.

For many years she worked in the UNC School of Social and Administrative Medicine and had an appointment at the Cecil Sheps Center for Health Services Research. She co-authored publications on the topic of single-payer heath care with her mentor, Glenn Wilson. She served on rural health care commissions in both Virginia and North Carolina. She was a course administrator for first-year medical students, overseeing a new curriculum requirement in the humanities. She also assisted in the development of an exchange program with three medical schools in China. She enjoyed her trips to China and especially loved hosting the visiting students who came to Chapel Hill. She taught Rhetoric at Hampden Sydney College.

She trained as a classical pianist. She devoured novels and non-fiction and had an active intellectual life, writing poetry and fiction as hobbies. She took up landscape painting and collage in her sixties. She was curious about everything and traveled the world to take it all in, often conspiring with her fellow globetrotters Kim, Ginger, and Bootsie. She especially delighted in her lifelong travels in Mexico and told wonderful stories of living on a houseboat on the River Thames in London. She had a beautiful voice and sang in several choirs. Above all she enjoyed her family and her friends. Her home was always filled with good company and cheer. She loved parties with dancing and also treasured small dinners with her many companions.

Childhood summers were spent with cousins in Mississippi, at Camp Greystone, and at her family's cottage in Laurel Park, NC. Later summers and holidays were spent on Big Yellow Mountain in Avery County. She especially enjoyed exploring the Roan Highlands and filling her house with wildflowers, and pottery from the Penland School.

She was disdainful of conventions she considered outdated and encouraged her children and grandchildren to choose their own paths. All ambitions were met with delight and support. Kathy was a staunch progressive and supported social justice and child welfare causes. She and Jim and their friends Bess and George joined civil rights marches in Washington in the early 1960's. She was a past president of the Junior League of Durham, served on the Board of The Women's Center of Chapel Hill, was a member of the Gay Rakes Garden Club, Laurel Hill Garden Club, and Folio.

In her final years she resided at The Cedars before moving into the DuBose Center. Late in life she struggled with a rare disorder that tried to rob her of her faculties. It slowed her down but she retained her sharp mind and her infectious laugh until she passed. The family thanks the kind and dedicated staff of the DuBose Center, especially on her Pine neighborhood. Their nursing skills and loving touch helped her and all of the residents through a time of unprecedented challenges related to the Covid pandemic.

She is survived by her children Leigh Bordley and husband Clay, Jay Erskine Leutze, James Parker Leutze and wife Taylor; grandchildren Elizabeth Austin Lawdley and wife Jacqueline, Travis Clayton Bordley, Samuel Leutze Bordley, May Parker Leutze, and Sara Kathleen Leutze.

Gifts in Kathy's honor can be made to Latino Education Achievement Partnership (LEAP) of Durham or Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy of Asheville.

Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill is assisting the Leutze family.  

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