OBITUARY: Barbara Leiter

March 21, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

Barbara Ketcham Leiter, age 76, passed from this life March 4, 2021 at the Venice Florida Regional Bayfront Hospital in the care of her family. Barbara was born in Peoria, IL on January 9, 1945 to John Robert and Ellen Shepherdson Ketcham. She died a resident of Peoria, IL and Boca Grande, FL following a year-long courageously fought battle with peritoneal cancer.
Barb graduated from Richwoods High School in 1963 and Bradley University in 1967 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. At Bradley, she was affiliated with Pi Beta Phi Sorority.
After graduation from Bradley, she married her high school sweetheart, Tom, on June 17, 1967 at First Federated Church in Peoria. The couple moved to Champaign, IL while Tom finished Law School and Barb taught kindergarten and elementary students art in Mansfield, IL.
In 1969, the couple returned to Peoria and Barb continued her teaching at Northmoor School. Her teaching skills were always demonstrated in various parent-teacher activities in her children’s schools.
Barb’s interests and talents in the decorative arts were reflected in her decorating and design career. She was a licensed and registered Interior Designer, employing her many talents in residential and commercial projects in Illinois and Florida, in new construction and historic preservation and restoration. She was never one to compromise quality or authenticity in her work and exhibited the same characteristics in her relationships with people and organizations with which she worked. She volunteered her time to many philanthropic organizations and chaired numerous fundraising activities, including the Heart Fund, Opera Illinois and the Peoria Historical Society. She was active in Lakeview Center, the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the local public broadcasting company, WTVP. Among her many talents, she excelled at event planning. She chaired the Peoria, IL Tri-Centennial Ball, created the Riverboat Gambler events for the Peoria Historical Society and numerous events for the Country Club of Peoria Centennial Celebration. She was a member of First Federated Church in Peoria and the Boca Grande Methodist Church in Boca Grande, FL. She maintained membership in the DAR, the National Society of Colonial Dames of America (Chicago Chapter), the English Speaking Union, Peoria Historical Society, Junior League of Peoria, Peoria Women’s Club, Boca Grande Woman’s Club, PEO, Country Club of Peoria, Gasparilla Inn and Club and numerous other educational and civic organizations.
Barb is survived by her husband, Tom, whom she met in 1961 at the First Presbyterian Church Teen Center following a basketball game between her school, Richwoods, and Tom’s school, Peoria High. Following that encounter, her mother would often say that Barb came home and said that Tom was the one she wanted to marry. Barb, however, always the lady and not so bold, would correct her mother saying that she said he was the kind of person she would like to marry. The chance meeting in 1961 lasted for 60 years during which Barb and Tom shared their entire lives with joint and common interests in historic preservation, antiques, history, music and most importantly, family.
Barb was preceded in death by her father and mother. She is survived by her husband, Tom, of Peoria, IL and four children and their families: Elizabeth (Alexis) Khazzam of Peoria, IL and Boca Grande, FL, and their children, Nicholas, Stella Grace and Matteo; Matthew (Meghan) Leiter of Sarasota, FL and their children, Louisa and Frances; Anne Bicket Leiter of Chicago, IL; and Margaret (Carter) Wellford of Chicago, IL and their children, Leighton and Caroline. Barb’s brother, James Robert Ketcham of Sarasota, FL also survives. A Memorial Service and Celebration of Barb’s life will be held June 17, 2021 at First Federated Church in Peoria, Illinois at 11 a.m.
Memorial contributions in Barb’s memory may be made to First Federated Church in Peoria, IL, Boca Grande Methodist Church in Boca Grande, FL or the Dream Center in Peoria, IL.