Marie Therese “Teri” Leonaitis died peacefully at home on October 27th at the age of 94, surrounded by family.
To send flowers in memory of Marie T. Leonaitis (Duval), please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
Therese was born in Bedford NH to Andre and Florida Duval, one of nine children. She came to CT in 1941 as a waitress in her father’s restaurant, “The Three Sisters,” located on Rt 6 in Columbia CT. When the war broke out her father had to close the restaurant and they moved back to NH. Her father got her a job on Grenier Air Force where she became a WAF.
“Teri” learned” how to wire instrument panels and wing lights as well as had the opportunity to get up into the airplanes with pilots. She also showed pilots how to change their spark plugs and became known as “Sparky”. She also earned her GED on the base. The WAF teenagers worked during the day and then attended classes at night.
She left for Hartford in 1944 with her sister Claire. She easily got a job at Pratt & Whitney aircraft again working on airplanes. When the war ended, she lost her job, but she soloed and flew at least 100 hours in the Hartford area.
She married Albert Leonaitis in 1946 and had two children. She eventually put her artistic talents to use working for Spaulding Florist in Enfield and then Wenk’s Florist in East Longmeadow MA. She finished her working career at CGS, a temporary placement agency.
She is survived by her sister Jacqueline Alves, Cape Cod, MA, Margaret Gosselin Manchester NH and her brother Norman Duval, Tolland CT. Also, her daughter, Judith Dreyer of Tolland CT and a son James Leonaitis from North Stonington, Ct. She leaves 3 grandsons: Lance Leonaitis, Pawcatuck, CT, Brian Dreyer Fairfax, VA and Jeffrey Dreyer Scottsdale, AZ several great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Teri is predeceased by her brother Andrew Duval of St. Croix, VI, Sister Claire Sallies of Palm Harbor,Fl., Brothers Lucien Duval of York, ME, Fernand Duval of Storrs,CT and Phillippe Duval of Dunedin,Fl.
Memorial Services are being held at the Tolland Senior Center, 674 Tolland Stage Rd Tolland, CT -06084 on November 16th, 2019 from 12-4 pm. Her tribute will be around 2 pm.
Teri had several interests besides family. She will be remembered as our flower lady and for her interest in lighthouses. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the following:
1. The Stonington Lighthouse and Museum are undergoing renovations and would welcome donations. She visited here many times during her short stay in the Stonington area: Restoration of Lighthouse
Joshua Adams, Dev’t Director
Stonington, CT 06378
2. UConn Master Gardner program has lost most of their state funding and have to rely on fundraisers. This organization supports our residents through education and outreach.
UConn Master Gardener Program
270 Farmington Ave
The Exchange, Bldg 4, suite 262
Farmington, Ct 06032
Lastly, the Tolland Senior Center and the Tolland Fire Departments are superb. Two of her nephews are EMT’s and firemen and both of these organizations welcome donations.