Kathleen Leikert’s Legacy Lives On


Kathleen Mary Leikert was 100 percent Irish and she loved St. James Church and School in Bay City. Kathleen was baptized at St. James, went to school there, raised her family there and sent her five children there.

St. James was well-known in Bay City as the “Irish church and school” and Kathleen embraced both as she did her Irish heritage.

“The church and school were always a priority to her,” said Nancy Kunitzer, Kathleen’s oldest child. “She had a strong connection there from the time she was born. She loved St. James and she loved being Irish.”

Since her death January 16, 2020 at the age of 96, Kathleen’s dedication to supporting St. James was extended beyond her lifetime. She left her estate to The Bay Area Catholic Schools Endowment Fund for All Saints Catholic Elementary School (formerly St. James Catholic Elementary School).

Nancy said that her mother was a life-long supporter and donor to the church, its altar society and the school. “Her generosity was not surprising,” Nancy said. “She was raised to know that the church and school always needed money.”

Lisa Rhodus, Principal of All Saints Elementary School, said the endowment will give more students an opportunity to experience an education in an environment where they can be themselves, guided by Catholic
teachings and standards. “We will use the annual endowment to support students who need help with tuition expenses,” Lisa said. “We also will use it for technology and other learning materials to enhance the educational experiences at our school.”

Sister Julie Gatza, a former Principal at All Saints who taught several of Kathleen’s children, said she was a true Irish Catholic. “Kathleen was devoted to the church, priests, sisters, loved her children and raised them well. “It’s clear that she was thinking about us for a long time,” the former Principal added.

Nancy remembers St. Patrick’s Day as her mother’s favorite holiday of the year. “We had special Irish pins that we wore on our school uniforms each St. Patrick’s Day,” she said adding that their house was on the parade route of the annual Bay City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. My grandfather came right from Ireland so anything Irish always was stressed.”

Nancy said her mother’s devotion to All Saints School also influenced her and her four siblings when they sold their mother’s home. “We found a closet stocked with supplies left over from our school days,” she said.

“It didn’t take us long to figure out what to do with them. We knew she would want us to donate them to All Saints Elementary School.”

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