Harriet Quinn Leasure, 74, of Rehoboth Beach died unexpectedly Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, of complications following emergency surgery. She was in Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., with all of her beloved family at her side. A native Washingtonian, Harriet was born at the old Providence Hospital April 16, 1939, the only daughter of Harriet Murphy and James Lawrence Quinn. She attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Bethesda, Md.
Her mother died when Harriet was only 13 years old, and her widowed father enrolled her in Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington as a sophomore. Mr. Quinn, an investment banker with Auchincloss, Parker & Redpath, did not think women worthy of higher education. So, unlike her Visitation classmates, Harriet did not immediately go on to college after graduation. Her father’s worldview would shape her life, a life of the mind. With noteworthy spirit and grit, Harriet made a firm determination to educate herself and thus developed a lifelong love of learning. On her own, she took to reading “War and Peace,” “The Brothers Karamazov” and other weighty tomes, outdistancing her school friends thanks to superior intelligence combined with a fierce drive to learn.
At age 19, while working for the old Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company, Harriet married native Washingtonian Charles Edward “Chick” Leasure Jr., a union that would last more than 55 years. In time they would have three sons, and Harriet would continue her quest for self-education even while raising a family of lively boys and also working full time outside the home. She took classes at Montgomery College, the University of Maryland and North Carolina Central University where she received her teaching certificate.
As her husband’s career was underway to later become deputy director of NIH for management and chief financial officer, the family was dispatched to Chapel Hill, N.C., where NIH had a campus at Research Triangle Park. When her son John enrolled in college, Harriet did too. Both graduated in the class of 1988 from the University of North Carolina, the same day son Charlie graduated from the law school, a point of pride for Harriet, of some embarrassment for John, and a trifecta with three UNC Leasure graduates in one day. Harriet continued working as a high school teacher and a librarian in the North Carolina school system.
Upon a retirement move to Delaware in 2009, she joined the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, where she was an active member. Harriet participated in the guild’s monthly readings, including one Dec. 17, 2013 at Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach on the topic of Speaking Up. In her wise and witty allotted 300 words she admonished the audience, “Speak your truth - but always do so with manners!” She also attended guild classes in memoir writing, poetry and experiments in creative writing. In both her spoken and written words, Harriet had the unusual ability to tell her story, convey hard-won wisdom, and be frank, funny and irreverent without becoming unkind or snarky. A fine writer, she was working on her personal and family memoir at the time of her death.
A member of St. Edmond Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach as well as the Rehoboth Beach Country Club, Harriet was sought after for the club’s Wednesday Trivia Night, her wide-ranging interests and knowledge often key to capturing a win for her team.
Harriet was well known for her quick and hearty laugh, her beautiful singing voice, her keen insights, strong loyalty, an intense love of life, and for attracting friends of all ages thanks to her compassion, easy rapport and a genuine interest in other people, all combining to make her loved by many.
She is survived by her devoted and loving husband of 55 years, Charles Edward “Chick” Leasure Jr.; sons Charles Edward Leasure III (Joanne Lyons), John Quinn Leasure (Kim Potter), and Michael James Leasure (Katie Baker); and her grandchildren: Charles, Nicholas, Grace, Henry, Eva Jane, Harriet, Joseph and Edward Leasure. She was predeceased by a brother, John Ambrose Quinn; and is survived by a brother, James L. Quinn (Judy) of Rockville, Md. Harriet leaves behind a wealth of in-laws, nieces, nephews and cousins, legions of friends both longtime and newfound, as well as her beloved Rehoboth Beach writing community.
Services were held Jan. 2, at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bethesda, Md., with interment Jan. 3 in Old St. Mary’s Cemetery in Rockville, Md.
Memorial donations may be made in Harriet’s honor to Our Lady of Lourdes School, 7500 Pearl St., Bethesda, MD 20814 or to the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, P.O Box 1326, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971.