Dorothy (Donna) Leonard, nee Wright, of Sunset Beach, N.C. passed away peacefully at home with family by her side on July 8, 2022, at the age of 78, after a courageous battle with cancer. Born June 3, 1944, in Darby, Pa., Donna lived in the Brookline area of Havertown, Pa. and attended Annunciation B.V.M. Catholic School and Prendergast High School. Donna met her beloved husband James (Jim) Leonard at age 16 and the high school sweethearts married in 1966 upon Jim’s return from Vietnam. Donna and Jim raised two daughters Denise and Deborah (Debbie) in Havertown, in the house next door to where Donna grew up. She was an active volunteer while the girls were young, especially in Girl Scouts, and often supported friends and family in their times of need. Donna was an excellent financial manager at home and applied these skills in the workplace too first at Exxon in the credit department in Bala Cynwood, Pa. and then, when the children were a bit older, at John Wanamaker Department Store in their Cash Disbursement Office in Wynnewood, Pa. Jim and Donna retired to the Sea Trail community in Sunset Beach in 2005 and have enjoyed their time since with wonderful friends and family. Donna was a kind, faith-filled person who centered her life around family and friends. She loved being a mom and mom mom and was ecstatic to become a great-grandmother in September 2022. Donna treasured her friends, many life-long confidants, with whom she would spend hours talking with and visiting. Many of the activities enjoyed in retirement were spent among friends including Saturday night dinners after Mass, singing with the Songbirds Group in Sea Trail, and playing Mahjong. Donna had an incredibly competitive, determined spirit and especially enjoyed a heated game of Scrabble or Words with Friends matches with her many on-line friends. She enjoyed the entertainment of funny comic strips and reality TV, sure to catch Judy Judge if able. Donna liked to create things for others to enjoy and often crafted, embroidered, and baked delicious cookies — especially at Christmastime. Most of all, she enjoyed spending time with Jim and simple joys of life. Donna’s big heart was most on display through her fondness of all things in nature. No animal was too small to love from bugs and snakes to cats and dogs, sometimes stopping traffic to help a turtle cross the road. She had a special talent for nursing orphaned and injured birds back to health, most recently rescuing a baby bird just before her passing. In the face of multiple life-threatening cancer diagnoses over the past eleven years, Donna bravely and fiercely battled with an unrelenting determination to live and beat the odds and that she did! She put her trust in God’s hands and credited the excellent treatment received at Duke University Cancer Center for winning the battles won. But much should also be contributed for her optimism and fighting spirit. Donna is so loved and will be dearly missed by devoted husband of 56 years Jim Leonard, daughter Denise Rosen (David) and grandsons Nicholas, Michael and Thomas of Ellicott City, Md.; daughter Debbie Fennell (Tom) of Elmira, N.Y., grandson Kevin (Michelle) of Elmira, N.Y. and granddaughter Catherine (Catie) of Brooklyn, N.Y., Sisters Eileen Martin of Drexel Hill, Pa. and Diane Locke of Sunset Beach, along with Sister Hilda Orlando (Joe) of Diamond Beach, N.J., William DelVecchio of Newtown Square, Pa. and Charles Howe of Surf City, N.J. and with over 20 very-loved nieces, nephews and their families including Suzanne Borio of Plymouth Meeting, Pa. and Donna McCoy of Havertown, Pa. Predeceased by parents Dorothy Joyce Wright and Edward Floyd Wright, Jr. of Havertown, Pa., sisters Carol Howe of Surf City, N.J. and Judith DelVecchio of Newtown Square, Pa. Donna’s family would like to thank the angels from Lower Cape Fear Life Care for their loving hospice care, Dr. Michael Morse at the Duke Cancer Center in Durham and her team at Zimmer Cancer Center in Leland, N.C. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the Sea Trail Community who have loved and supported us through recent years, it means more than we can ever express. You truly are good Samaritans. In lieu of flowers, the family requests tribute donations in Donna’s name to non-profit Lower Cape Fear Life Care at https://lifecare.org/donate/ or by mail to 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401. A Mass of Christian Burial and Inurnment will be held on Monday, July 25 at 10 a.m. in St. Brendan’s the Navigator Catholic Church, 5101 Ocean Highway W., Shallotte, N.C., 28470. Brunswick Funeral Service, Shallotte.
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