Ann Leonard Molenda, 84, of Granger, IN, passed away at the Center for Hospice Care in Mishawaka, IN on Thursday, June 17, 2021, surrounded by her family, after complications from long-term heart ailments. Devoted mother, grandmother, faithful Roman Catholic, and dear friend, Ann was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Michael Leonard and Mary Donnelly Leonard and spent her childhood summers on Lake Michigan in Holland. A lifelong scholar, Ann was class valedictorian at Marywood Academy in Grand Rapids, and class salutatorian at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN. She was an Indiana University Affiliated Scholar as well as a member of and regular presenter to the Antiquarian Society of St. Joseph Valley and The Woman’s Literary Club of South Bend.
Proud of her Irish ancestry and always witty, Ann was a known historian of great depth, particularly of the Civil War, with a focus on President Lincoln, Schuyler Colfax, as well as the nursing nuns on the battlefield. Ann’s writing and presentations were meticulously researched in libraries across the United States and she contributed numerous articles to the Lincoln Herald as well as creating corporate histories. She was also a South Bend Tribune columnist for several years, featuring local residents and the influence of reading in their lives. If there was a book of substance in any genre, Ann had likely read it. Her personal library was carefully curated and extensive.
Ann had a large network of lifelong friends and enjoyed tennis, golf, bike riding, skiing, theater, symphony, and art, and traveled to many parts of the world. Often her friendships were created or intertwined with community service which was an integral part of her life. She was a board member of the Cancer Society of St. Joseph County (now RiverBend Cancer Services), The Scholarship Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the Potawatomi Zoo. In addition, she was an active member and volunteer for the Christ Child Society, the Center for Hospice Care, the Junior League of South Bend, the St. Joseph County Republican Party, and Hoosier Salon Patrons Association.
Ann was preceded in death by her husband Dr. Robert V. Molenda, her parents Michael and Mary Donnelly Leonard, her brothers Thomas Leonard, Reverend John Leonard, Robert Leonard, Edward Leonard and sisters Kathleen Leonard Farhat, and Rosemary Leonard. Ann is survived by her children Kate Willson Voelker (Mark), Dr. Michael Willson (Marilyn), Fran Willson Bedan (Richard), Ellen Willson Hoover (Gary), 12 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, sister Margaret Leonard Karczewski, and former husband Richard L. Willson.
Visitations for Ann will be Thursday, June 24, 2021, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Goethals & Wells Funeral Home in Mishawaka, IN and on Friday, June 25, 2021, from 10:00 to 11:00 am at Saint Matthew Cathedral in South Bend, IN. Immediately following the Friday visitation will be a mass of Christian burial at 11:00 am at Saint Matthew Cathedral. Private burial will take place at Woodlawn Cemetery, Grand Rapids, MI.
The family suggests Christ Child Society of South Bend and Saint Matthew Cathedral for those interested in making a memorial contribution.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ann Leonard Molenda, please visit our floral store.