Mary Ellen Leeper Leichliter passed away Sunday, October 30, 2022, at the wonderful age of 102 in Dallas, Texas. Mary Ellen was born on August 21, 1920, in DeQueen, Arkansas to Thomas Mince Leeper and Georgia Anne Maddux Leeper. She was the second to last child of 12 children (7 brothers and 4 sisters). As a child, Mary Ellen enjoyed swimming in the Cossatot River, climbing the tallest trees to read books (or write poetry), and discovering sap for gum chewing. She joined every athletic club available to girls in her small town and was known to be “as strong as a knot on a pine” physically and mentally. Mary Ellen graduated from Henderson College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas with a degree in business.
After college, she returned to her hometown of DeQueen and worked at Dierk’s Lumber and Coal Company(later known as Dierk’s Forest Inc.). Mary met and married Charles Brooks Vaughn. They had a daughter, Marilyn “Lynn” Vaughn. Mary Ellen and Lynn eventually moved to Dallas to start a new life, where Mary Ellen got a new job at Geotech Instruments HQ, as an executive assistant. While at Geotech, she met Braden “Brad” Boyd Leichliter, Jr. of Keisterville, Pa. Their love for each other only grew and they were married. They shared a mantra that was passed on to their family: “ live and think.” Brad and Mary Ellen moved several times over the years, with Geotech, studying seismic activity and contributing to the creation of what is now known as the Global Seismographic Network (GSN). When their assignments were complete, they settled back in Dallas.
Among their many travels, the southwest held a special place in her heart. Mary Ellen took great pride in being a member of Lover’s Lane United Methodist Church, alongside dear friends Thomas(Tom) and Dee Shipp and their two children, Tommy and Judy. Mary Ellen was a devout Methodist and made sure that all of her nieces and nephews knew the Lord’s Prayer by heart. She would say that that specific prayer summed up everything one needed to know about G-d (Matthew 6:19-15). She had a crisp wit, deep admiration for all nature, a keen eye for capturing photography-influenced by the early work of Frank Lloyd Wrightand an inspiring love and affection for all those she held near and dear. Mary Ellen took great pride in reaching the age of 102 and the fact that she was a great, great, great aunt. Her genuine affinity for her nieces and nephews was felt as a constant warm, gentle hug that they returned in kind. Her jokes were also a delight when shared. In 2019, Mary Ellen received the news that the Sevier County Library had named their children’s section after her and her beloved sister, Carolyn. The two had donated over 6,000 books over the years to the library.
Mary Ellen is preceded in death by the loves of her life, husband Brad and daughter Lynn, her parents, her siblings, and many nieces and nephews. Mary Ellen’s legacy lives on in her great nephew, Clark (Bo) Reed, great niece Betsy Reed Glaze and great-great niece Adrienne Glaze all of Dallas, Texas; niece Twila Thompson, great nephews Allen Stanton (Stan) Thompson and Larry Paul Thompson all of DeQueen, Arkansas; great-great niece Jacqueline Sharp Kirkendall (Dustin) and great-great-great nieces Ava Blythe and Charlotte Grace and one great-great-great nephew William Shepard all of Prosper, Texas. Cousin, Olivia Skelton Humphries of Nashville, Arkansas. Her sweet caregiver Tutu and many close relatives and friends. “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” -Irish Blessing. “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as G-d now knows me completely. Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:11-13 Per Mary Ellen’s request, the family will hold a private memorial service, installing an inscribed bench at an undisclosed location for booklovers and nature lovers to enjoy. In lieu of flowers, Mary Ellen has requested the gift of a book to a child to kindle curiosity, the planting of a tree to give back what we have taken away, the picking up of a rock to learn something new, calling the Razorbacks or cheering on the Cowboys, or telling a loved one a favorite joke.