Barbara Ketcham Leiter

January 9, 1945 - March 4, 2021
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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 11:00 o’clock am. 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.

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Timeline for Barbara Ketcham Leiter

Born: January 9, 1945
Died: March 4, 2021

Condolences for Barbara Ketcham Leiter

Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory.


Jim & Katie Owens posted on 3/22/21

Dear Tom and family, we were deeply saddened to learn of Barbara's premature passing. She was a gracious, lovely woman who will be fondly remembered by all who had the opportunity to spend any time with her! We're keeping you and family in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time of transition.


Ruth Lewis posted on 3/18/21

All my memories of Barb are infused with her lovely smile, and her graceful manner in living her life. She will be fondly remembered and missed.


Jim and Sharon Zogby posted on 3/16/21

Dear Tom and Family, I learned of the death of Barbara through the Peoria Journal Star, even though we have been in Placida since early January. Although her death was expected please know that you are not alone at this time. Sally was a courageous woman who never faltered in her determination to fight this cruel illness. We admired the way she was able to fight her cancer over the last year. You two had a very special relationship after so many wonderful years of marriage. You were a a great help to us and provided our family with excellent legal help over the years; We only wish we could repay you in a similar manner. . Sally was a very special human being. We were impressed with how strong you have remained during her illness and how you were always present during Sally’s last few days. You are in our thoughts and prayers, May the Lord grant her eternal rest and welcome her with open arms.


marcel seefeldt posted on 3/16/21

Dear Tom, Matt, Anne, Meg, Beth, and the entire Leiter family- Barb was always so kind and congenial, warm, pleasant, and amiable to those that have had the pleasure to know her, and, she has been a great light to the communities - especially Peoria, IL, and Boca Grande, FL - that were blessed with her presence. She will be sorely missed by all, including myself and my mother, Roberta. We do hope that the wonderful memories shared with Barb can somehow lesson the grief of her loss. Please accept our most sincere condolences.


Thomas Bower posted on 3/14/21

Dear Tom Leiter and Family.... Barb has been on my mind almost all day today, and I can only say how sorry Cheryl and I are at the news of Barb's passing. I,'m surprised and shocked, and oh, so disappointed to learn that Barb had passed away. We are so sorry, Tom, and family, and can't imagine what this last year might have been like for all of you.... dealing with peritoneal cancer. For those of you who don't know us, Tom Leiter and Tom Bower were friends it would seem, forever. We had soo many mutual friends, and I could name names, but there would be so many, I'd surely leave somebody out. I can't imagine the anguish you must all be going through right now. We CAN pray. And we will. Sincerely, Bernie Cramer, and Tom McMorrow, this is Tom and Cheryl Bower signing off for right now. With Love.


Bonnie Peters Semple posted on 3/14/21

Tom and family, my deepest sympathies on your loss. I have wonderful memories of Barb, Patty Wilson Fuchs, and I hanging out at the Ivy Club. May your memories of Barb help you through this difficult time and in the future.


Murv and Mary Ann Pretorius posted on 3/14/21

We are very sad to hear of Barb's passing. I first got to know Barb when we carpooled Anne and my daughter Lisa to First Federated Pre-School. Through the years we shared stories with pride of our growing children. Always so gracious and ready with a warm smile. She will be missed. Our sincere condolences to your family.


Amy (Watson) St John posted on 3/14/21

Tom and family: I was so saddened to read about Barb’s passing. I remember the days at CCP at the pool with the Beth and Susie and Matt and Trip. So long ago but always in my memories. I had the joy of hearing Anne sing the Messiah a number of years ago and had a great conversation with Barb at that time. We hadn’t seen each other in years. My sympathy and prayers go out to all of you at this sad time


Lois & Joe Yoches posted on 3/13/21

Tom, Beth, Matt, Anne and Meg, We are so very sorry to hear that Barb died last week. This has been a difficult year for your family not only with the pandemic but with Barb’s health. We have very fond memories of her, Joe since high school, and me from Fr. Sweeney and PND. Barb was a smart, classy lady with a beautiful smile. Our sincere sympathies to all of you. Lois & Joe Yoches


Alyssa Kuhn posted on 3/13/21

Dear Tom and family, Our deepest condolences on your tremendous loss. Barb was always there at the gym with a smile, and had very kind words to share with us. We would see you both occassionaly at the CCP as well. She was a very special person with warm, endearing, brilliant qualities and she will be missed by all who knew and loved her. May her memory be a blessing, Alyssa and Matt Kuhn


Bob and Jacque Flint posted on 3/13/21

Our deepest sympathy to all your family is the loss of Barb. She was such a delightful person and lit up the world with her beautiful smile. She was a wonderful wife and mother and also so generous with her time and talents in the things she did in the community. Loved reading of your meeting, Tom, at the Teen Center back in High School. We all grew up in a simple yet fun era, and the two of you shared so many special years. Our loving thoughts are with all of you.


Sheryl Seckel Hunter posted on 3/12/21

Growing up I always remember Mrs Leiter greeting everyone with such a pretty smile and warmth. A beautiful person inside and out and gorgeous family. My deepest sympathies to Tom and the “kids”, their spouses/partners and grandchildren - all of whom she no doubt loved deeply and was proud to call family. Sheryl Seckel Hunter (daughter of Pres and Sandy)


Tom Mathew posted on 3/12/21

Reading through her obituary, she clearly was the kind of woman who embodied the kind of America we all should strive to live in and for. Matt, I see her in you. Prayers and condolences to you and your entire family.


Dan Laukitis posted on 3/12/21

Our deepest condolences to your whole family. Barb was a wonderful person and a formative, inspiring influence on my life, growing up with the kids at PCC and First Federated. She will be dearly missed. Love and peace to you all.


Teresa posted on 3/11/21

Without good byes, we could never lovingly greet each other again. Because we are believers, the next hello is a certainty. God’s blessing to all who lived her.


Martha Thompson posted on 3/11/21

What a lovely write up about Barbara. So many joyful memories come to mind as I read it. Most of all no matter what the subject she was so encouraging and supportive, So that after I’d finished chatting with her. I’d think. “Yes yes I can’t wait to try what Barb suggested “. I Realize how fortunate I was to have that friendship in my life. Thank you Barb


Next Step Counseling posted on 3/10/21

We loved learning about your mom through the stories you shared Anne. Thank you for sharing a bit of her with us. We're here to support you not just know but in the many months ahead. A donation was made to Dream Center Peoria in honor of your mom.


Karen Seda posted on 3/10/21

My condolences to the family. I am a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames and had the pleasure of dining with Barbara and her husband at a Chicago Dames dinner a few years ago. A delightful evening of great company and conversation. May she Rest In Peace.