Beloved librarian deceased at 48

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Beloved Safford Library Director Leanne McElroy died at a Tucson hospital Wednesday after suffering a sudden heart attack Saturday night.

By Jon Johnson

TUCSON – Beloved Safford City-Graham County Library Director Leanne McElroy succumbed to injuries from a heart attack and was listed as deceased at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson at 1 p.m., Wednesday.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Safford Library Director Leanne McElroy was a prime example of a person who served her community for its betterment.

McElroy was flown to the Tucson hospital from initially being treated at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center on Sunday night after suffering a severe heart attack at her Safford home. McElroy leaves behind her husband, Phil, and daughter, Lydia, as well as other local extended family members.

The viewing will take place from 2 to 4 p.m., Monday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Safford Stake Center at 501 W. Catalina Dr. with funeral services to immediately follow. Services are being handled by McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel. For more information contact the funeral chapel at (928) 428-1740 or visit their website at

Wife, mother, friend, and a pillar in the community, Leanne wore all those hats and more and had a smiling, welcoming demeanor to all.

In her time as the Safford librarian, she continuously ushered in programs for the local youth and others that greatly benefited the community. Some of the programs she was particularly fond of were ScienceCity, which teaches science to local youth, the library’s summer reading programs, its community baby shower, LibraryCon, hosting local writers and all the featured performances that brought joy to those in attendance.

A person would be hard-pressed to find someone who better exemplified what it meant to give service for the betterment of the community than Leanne McElroy. She will be sorely missed.   

The following is a statement released by the Safford City-Graham County Library.

“It is with a heavy heart that the library announces the passing of our leader, our inspiration and our dear friend, Director Leanne McElroy.

Leanne opened her career at the library with the creation of ScienceCity. Bringing her experience from Habitat for Humanity and her travels across the world, she set the library on a path toward becoming a centerpiece of learning and compassion in the community. She wanted nothing more than to inspire children, teens, and adults to reach for their stars. She leaves behind the legacy of a library for everyone, nurturing of knowledge and growth for all ages. We will dearly miss her smile, her guidance, and her loving kindness.

Leanne’s service will be on Monday, August 14th. The library will be closed that day in her memory. We ask all of our library community to please bear with us in this challenging time as we grieve and remember our captain and our beloved friend.”