Deeply devoted mother and grandmother who lived a life of service


PEABODY — Ethel Ellen (Walker) Leonard, 101, died on February 23, 2023 at her home at Brooksby Village, Peabody.

Ethel was born at home in Dorchester on Sept. 12, 1921, and was the daughter of Emma Edith (Turner) and Alexander Walker, immigrants from England. Ethel grew up on Savin Hill with her extended family and friends. After graduating from high school and secretarial school, Ethel worked as a secretary at Prudential Insurance and the Boston Tow Boat Company before finding her plum job with the Association School of Adult Education at the Boston YMCA. It was in the Y’s Outing Club where she met her future husband, Jack.

Ethel was a deeply devoted mother and grandmother to both her biological and chosen family children. She lived a life of service. A 50-year resident of Lynnfield, Ethel was active in Town Meeting, Friends of the Lynnfield Library, Lynnfield High School Band Boosters and as a Girl Scout troop leader. She held many positions with the Lynnfield Centre Congregational Church (UCC). Ethel was instrumental in that congregation’s journey to becoming “open and affirming.”

She was a Girl Scout from the age of 10 and organized gatherings of former Scouts and leaders living at Brooksby Village. Ethel served on the building committee for the Peabody/Lynnfield (Torigian YMCA) for six years and then the Board of Directors for nine years, until 2017. In 2015, she was the first recipient of the MetroNorth YMCA Ethel Leonard Service Award that was established in her honor for an amazing volunteer. She was a member of the Brooksby Village Protestant Faith Community Missions Committee for 18 years, retiring only a few weeks before her death.

Ethel was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, John (Jack) Francis Leonard. Ethel was predeceased by her brother Reverend Alexander Edward Walker; sisters-in-law Barbara Pearl (Wynot) Walker; Sydney Eva Leonard; and daughter-in-law Lynn Ann Crawford.

Ethel’s survivors include her son J. Peter Leonard, daughter-in-law Lorraine DiSimone, daughter Ellen Leonard, grandson Alexander Leonard, and many dear chosen family members, friends and neighbors.

A memorial service will be held at Brooksby Village Chapel, 300 Brooksby Village Drive, Peabody, Massachusetts, on Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 1 p.m. Interment will be at Forest Hill Cemetery, Lynnfield. Please do not send flowers. Contributions in her memory may be made to Centre Congregational Church, UCC Lynnfield, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, MetroNorth YMCA – Torigian Branch or to a charity of your choice. Assisting the family with the arrangements is O’Donnell Cremations – Funerals – Celebrations, 167 Maple St., (Rte. 62) Danvers, Massachusetts. To sign the guestbook, visit