Margaret Wilma ‘Willie’ Leone

Sept. 3, 1935 June 24, 2013

Margaret Wilma “Willie” Leone, 77, beloved wife, mother and Nana, passed peacefully Monday afternoon at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem. She was surrounded by those who continue to love her most, her family.

Willie was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the younger of two daughters of William and Margaret (Bell) Cunningham. Her sister, Isabel, was 14 years her senior, and she and Willie loved each other deeply.

Surviving are her husband, John A. Leone; three daughters: Susan Leone, Elizabeth Almer and Jennifer Slayton; sons-in-law: Alan Svaboda, Charles Almer and Mark Slayton; and six grandchildren: Ellia, Kelsey and Maddie Almer and Alyssa, Brett and Elaina Slayton. They each have warm memories of her constant poise, sincere guidance and quick wit, but most of all her fierce devotion to her family.

She was preceded in death by her eldest child, Rick.

Willie became involved with figure skating early in her life. She earned her nickname as a young woman while performing across the country with the Ice Follies. She was a graceful skater, known for her bright spirit. The Ice Follies also brought her to Pittsburgh, where she met her husband, John A. Leone. He was the love of her life.

John and Willie were married in April 1956 in Bay City, Mich. Together they raised a family of four children, John Richard, Susan Anne, Elizabeth and Jennifer. Throughout their lives, they lived in many different places, including Pennsylvania, Venezuela, Illinois, Belgium and Michigan. Willie made many dear friends and served as a gracious hostess everywhere she went. The Leones settled into their current home on Saucon Valley Road, Bethlehem, in 1984 but continued to travel the world together.

Willie was an important source of strength for John as he advanced in his career as a petroleum engineer and entrepreneur. She believed in him intensely, giving him the confidence to succeed. With Willie’s support, John eventually acquired Bonney Forge Corp., which has manufacturing operations in Mount Union; Houston, Texas; Bergamo, Italy; and Shanghai, China. She also fully supported the family’s considerable philanthropy.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2013, at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem with a reception to follow at Saucon Valley Country Club. Another service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 5, 2013, at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Mount Union with a reception to follow at the Bonney Forge Lodge.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association, American Lung Association, Grier School or the Pennsylvania State University College of Arts and Architecture Willie Leone Endowed Scholarship Fund in Music Theatre.

Arrangements are by Connell Funeral Home Inc., 245 E. Broad St., Bethlehem. Send online condolences to