Eva Leanne McElroy passed away at University Medical Center in Tucson on August 9, 2017 after a sudden cardiac event. Leanne was born in Yuma, Arizona on September 6, 1968 to Louise Caroline Kuschel and Lawrence L. McDonald, Jr. She grew up in Yuma, graduating from Kofa High School. She was involved in many activities in school and church, including serving as the student body president of her middle school and high school, and being elected governor of Girls’ State. After High School, she attended Brigham Young University, majoring in Russian; her studies included a semester in Washington D.C., and a semester abroad in Europe. She continued her education in Georgetown University where she received her Master’s Degree in Russian Studies. She was then hired to work for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems centered in Washington D.C. helping set up free elections in countries without that tradition, including the election for the first President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin. Subsequently Leanne worked for FEMA, the federal agency responsible for emergency response, traveling throughout the United States to assist with disaster relief.
During this time, she renewed a romance with someone she had first met when she was in High School, Philip Carl McElroy. They were married on November 27, 1999. After their marriage, Leanne and Philip lived in the Phoenix area, where he designed computer websites and Leanne assisted new immigrants to the United States through a Lutheran Service Agency. In 2002 Leanne accepted a position with Habitat for Humanity, again traveling widely for her work while living in Budapest, Hungary.
In 2004, she and her husband moved to Safford to be closer to her widowed mother and other family. Their daughter, Lydia Marie, the delight of her mother’s life, was born on October 10, 2012. That same year, Leanne became the Safford City/Graham County Librarian Director. She was a visionary leader, and during her tenure, many new community outreach programs were initiated or expanded, such as ScienceCity, and LibraryCon. Under her direction, the library became a destination for not only finding books, but for a wide variety of events and opportunities for learning and discovery.
Leanne was well-known and loved in this community and by friends literally all over the United States and the world, from Mongolia to England, but most of all she was loved by her husband, daughter, and siblings. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and loved her Savior Jesus Christ.
Leanne was preceded in death by her infant brother Norman Bruce in 1962, by her father in 1999, and by her mother in 2012. She is survived by her husband, Philip Carl and daughter, Lydia Marie as well as by her brothers, William Wayne (Mary) McDonald of Douglas, Alan Kent (Abby) McDonald of Bisbee, and her sister, Laura Beth (Paul) David of Safford. She is also survived by her loving nieces, great nieces, nephews and great nephews.
Viewing will be from 2:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Monday, August 14, 2017. Funeral services will be at 4:00 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Safford Stake Center. Interment will be at the Cottonwood Cemetery near the family cattle ranch near Douglas.
Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel and Gila Valley Crematory. Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com
In lieu of flowers please donate to the Friends of the Library in Memory of Leanne McElroy.