Sheila Leonard pampered French mime Marcel Marceau with her homemade lobster casserole; traded cookbooks with singer Pearl Bailey, and was greeted as an old friend when she ran into Mel Brooks in Florence.
Socializing with celebrities was not the source of her most profound joy, however. That came from caring for her family and her home.
She raised six boys and a bunch of dogs that usually outweighed them: a St. Bernard, a Great Pyrenees and four 150-pound Newfoundlands. She baked 800 cookies each Christmas. She fought like a tiger to keep a playground near her home from being paved over for tennis courts.
“We had a wonderful life,” said her husband of 58 years, legendary WGN radio/TV host Roy Leonard, who brought his favorite VIPs home after interviews to enjoy Sheila’s delectable veal stew and carrot cake. “We loved each other and we were good friends.”