Lucille “Sam” Leonhardy

Lucille Leonhardy Photo0001Lucille “Sam” Leonhardy was born December 3, 1935 in Oakland, California to Mildred and Nick Hughes, a Sgt. Major in the Army.  As an “Army brat,” she lived in Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and several other places, graduating from High School in Honolulu, HI, before heading off to the University of Oregon where she earned a degree in Sociology. Later Sam earned a Masters’ Degree in Adult Education from Washington State University.

Most people know her as “Sam,” a nickname bestowed by her husband Frank Leonhardy, Washington State University and University of Idaho professor of Anthropology who died in 1991. Frank and Sam raised two sons in Pullman: Galen and Duncan, who graduated from Pullman High School in 1981 and 1983, respectively. Sam enjoyed homemaking as well as working outside the home and held a variety of positions at WSU. She especially enjoyed and took pride in her position as associate editor in the Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory. Though Sam retired from WSU, she never seemed to stop working. Through work, travel and other interests, she developed and nurtured many life-long friendships.

Ever giving and committed to helping others, Sam further enhanced her abilities, earning certification as a Substance Abuse Counselor. She was foster mother for several children, volunteered with Latah County United Way, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, and served on the board of Meals on Wheels of Latah County in Moscow, ID.

She reserved a special fondness for animals, gardening and country living. In 1991, she moved to the countryside outside of Moscow, ID, where she shared a home with Jodean Moore, and a succession of dogs, cats, cows, and goats. Deer, elk, coyotes and occasional moose or bear were always welcome, though she did put up a fence to keep the critters out of her garden. Sometimes she had big gardens and sometimes small ones, but she always had a garden and always had flowers.

Sam was well-known among friends and family for cooking skills. She enjoyed holiday traditions, especially assembling meals for Thanksgiving feasts. There was always room for people with nowhere else to go, visitors from other parts of the world, and lots of friends. She never met a fried oyster she didn’t like. Friends and family yearn for her macaroni-and-cheese, shrimp salad and Chicken Mole, among other iconic dishes.

Sam loved to read and she read a lot: preferring romance novels in younger years, and, later on, murder mysteries.  She shared her joy of reading with her sons, by reading to them most every night until they were reading on their own. She read to her grandchildren as often as she could and they have grown up to be readers too.

A devoted mother and grandmother, Sam was the kind of mom who taught her boys how to wash dishes by making one wash and the other dry—the dryer being ultimately responsible for determining if dishes were indeed clean. As they grew up, she helped them through struggles to achieve economic stability, offering advice about gardening, cooking, and coffee-making. When times were tough, Sam offered advice, encouragement and sometimes funds.  Her grandchildren always were well dressed, enjoyed Christmas surprises, and never-ending hugs.

Sam Leonhardy lived a long and beautiful life, one characterized by ups and downs, joys and challenges, and much adventure. She and Jodean accompanied and supported Sam’s younger son, Duncan, through his final, devastating illness. Sam left this world the day after his death.  She is survived by her dearest friend, Jodean Moore; her older son, Galen; her daughters-in-law Ronda and Lea, and her grandchildren: Sarah and Hallie, Alana, Sean, Nikolas, and Adina.

Delightfully, Sam was her own self-assured and quirky person, and she walked barefoot in the snow.

To honor Sam and her contributions to our community, the family suggests donations to : Latah Recovery Center, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, Gritman Foundation, and  Nimiipuu Health Center (Lapwai, ID).

Arrangements have been entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel, Moscow, and online condolences may be sent to

2 Responses to Lucille “Sam” Leonhardy

  1. Ruth and Terry Day says:

    We became acquainted with Sam in 1974 when we moved to Steptoe St. Our boys grew up with Galen and Duncan. Sam was a good neighbor, giving helpful hints with how to deal with boy’s antics. We admired her for her dedication to her foster children. We shared 4th of July celebrations on our street.
    She was a great woman and we missed her when Frank died and she moved away.

  2. carol ndambuki says:

    To Sam’s Family and Friends,

    I am writing on behalf of the Tom Maloney family. My Dad, Tom, worked with Sam at the Wood Materials and Engineering Laboratory, where Sam was his “right hand” producing the yearly book proceedings of the Particleboard Symposium. These books which were produced every year, were an enormous undertaking and they would not have happened without Sam’s excellent editing skills.

    Over the years, what I remember about Sam was her sincerity and concern for all those around her. Even though I saw her infrequently, I always felt the love she extended and enjoyed tremendously talking with her and Jodean at one event or another.

    Please know that Tom’s family shares in the grief felt at the loss of such a wonderful woman.


    Donna, Bill, Carol and Joe Maloney

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