Leah Ann Center, age 84, passed away on the morning of November 3, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee. Leah was born August 16, 1937, in Waukegan Illinois, to Joseph A. Litman and Pearl Coopersmith Litman. She attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a degree in elementary education. She also completed her master’s degree from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. While working on her bachelor’s degree, she met her wonderful, adoring husband, Bob Center and they were married in 1957.
She was a wonderful mom, raising two delightful, successful children who each raised two delightful, successful children of their own. She adored little ones—her own, her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and other peoples’ children with whom she spent so many joyous hours throughout her life. It was hard to tell who was having the best time with whom!
She was a second grade teacher in Waukegan, Illinois for over 30 years. She retired at least twice but went back because she so enjoyed children.
Leah and Bob purchased a home on Fifth Crow Wing Lake in 1971 and made it their summer cottage for many years to escape the Arizona summers.
Once she finally retired from the classroom Leah was able to go to Minnesota more often and spend time on the lake with family and friends. After her husband Bob passed away in 2003, after 46 wonderful, wedded years, she continued splitting her time between Arizona and Minnesota.
In 2004 she met the man who was to become the second love of her life, Carl de Almeida.
On their first date, he brought her a yellow rose and continued to do so throughout their relationship. It was a special sign of this cowboy’s love for his sweetheart.
Carl enjoyed life with and cared for Leah even in the face of the blindness that robbed her of seeing the faces of her precious family and friends and the outdoors that she cherished so much. She embraced Carl’s family and always included them as her own. Some of her happiest times in recent years were the trips to Massachusetts to be with Carl’s lovely and extended family. Leah died on the 17th anniversary of her and Carl’s very loving, devoted relationship.
Leah was so much fun, and that was the cornerstone of her relationship with her “Cowboy” Carl. She loved jokes—even the naughty ones--and the sound of her laughter was infectious. She was extremely sharp and well-read. She loved discussions on all types of topics and was a passionate learner. She relished visiting for hours with family and friends. She played like a kid—she loved being out on the boat or 4-wheeling with Carl. She loved parties of all kinds with games and costumes and people having a good time together. When she still could see, she went on ladies only trips with her besties and had great adventures to regale us with after. She took her daughter, daughter-in-law, and favorite niece on a Caribbean cruise “just for fun”—a trip they will never forget.
Leah and Carl traveled extensively together. Carl’s constant vigilance kept her safe and she saw the world through his eyes, relishing every minute of their time together exploring the places they got to visit and engaging with people from around the world.
Leah Center was one of the most tender-hearted and loving people who has ever graced this earth. Her caring and compassion was boundless. She held people and animals in her heart all the time. Leah was a lady of beauty and kindness. She appreciated every little thing from a thoughtful word to the splendor of nature around her.
She is survived by her dedicated, doting Cowboy, Carl de Almeida of Sun City, AZ, her dearest children; Steve (Debbie) Center of Nevis, MN, Carole (Daniel) Bell of Phoenix, AZ, her beloved grandchildren; Joel and Deanna Center, Aaron Bell, Shoshana (Michael) Suleynova and her darling great grandchildren; Ovadiah, Devorah, Elishevah and Yeshaya. All are grieving at the loss of their adoring matriarch Leah. She is also survived and missed by her many close friends in both states.
The most defining thing about Leah was her unbridled, innocent love of life. She never gave up on the goodness in the world and believed with all her might that each of us can do our part to make life for everyone and everything on this planet a little sweeter. The way she lived is the legacy she leaves and will continue to be an inspiration to those of us who knew the fierceness of her commitment to a gentler, more loving universe. Now we must pay it forward without her. For a tiny person, her impact on all of us was huge and she will live in our hearts forever. (And every time we see a yellow rose.)