Kathleen Kennedy Leather, 74, of Middletown passed away peacefully on Friday, July 14, after an 8 year fight against cancer. She was at home, surrounded by her loved ones. She is survived by her husband of fifty-two years John (Jack); sons, Sean of Middletown and Timothy of San Francisco; daughter, Meg Reid and son-in-law George Reid of Lincroft; her grandchildren Hannah Reid and Ian Reid; her brother John Kennedy of Columbus, Ohio; and his son Michael of Chicago.
She was predeceased by her father, Michael Kennedy, from County Kerry; and her mother, Rose (Ganley) from County Mayo; immigrants who met on the ship from Ireland to America. There are many cousins on both sides of her family in Ireland, with whom she enjoyed a warm friendship. Kathy had a great love of Literature and God. She was an avid fan of poetry and books, enjoying her time with her book club and fellow poetry lovers. She still found time for running, traveling, and the enjoyment of her grandchildren. She was a Communicant of St. Anselm’s Church in Wayside, and had a long association with the Upper Room Spiritual Center of Neptune.
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts on July 20, 1942, she graduated from Westfield State College. Kathy continued her family tradition of teaching. She taught at the elementary school at Westover AFB, then again at Ardena School in Howell after her marriage and before starting her family.
When her children had grown, Kathy resumed her teaching career at Holy Trinity School in Long Branch, while also training in Spiritual Direction at the Upper Room Spiritual Center. She became a Spiritual Director, and spent many years helping others find Christ in their lives, and know Him better as their Savior and Brother.
Kathy’s work with adults in Spiritual Direction, and her undergraduate study in Education combined with her love of language, served her well in the last stage of her career, as a teacher of Remedial Reading at Brookdale Community College.
She enhanced her qualifications by attaining a Master’s Degree in Reading at Georgian Court College, and served at Brookdale as both Learning Assistant, working directly with struggling students, and as faculty, teaching courses in Reading. She spent many years helping students develop their reading skills in preparation for their college experience.
Her immigrant, working-class background made her happy and proud to help the many underprivileged, poorly prepared students who needed help in the primary skill of reading. She saw in her students the same potential she had, and which she developed through hard work guided by dedicated teachers. She will be remembered as both an example of the American Experience, people achieving their potential through education, and as one who worked hard to help others share in that success.
Visitation was held on Monday, July 17, at John F. Pfleger Funeral Home. A Funeral Liturgy was offered Tuesday, July 18, at St. Anselm’s Church.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Kathleen’s name to either The Nicolas Leather, Heart2Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 113, Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ 07717 or The Upper Room Spiritual Center, 3455 W. Bangs St., Neptune, NJ 07753. For more information, to send condolences or for directions, please visit www.pfleger fh.com.