Michelle Jones Leder
Michelle Jones Leder, cherished first child, mother, wife, sister, aunt, died peacefully at home early Saturday morning surrounded by her family after a long journey with cancer. She was a dynamic presence to her family, hilarious and humane, and a model for how to live in every season, and in life’s final hours. She could solve any murder mystery within the first few pages, fed her dachshund his favorite biscotti, and was an equally ardent fan of Tony Romo and Jane Austen.
Michelle was born May 7, 1946 in San Antonio, TX to Col. David (of Goleta) and Kathleen Scanlon Jones. She lived all over the world with them and her younger siblings, Lisa and Casey, including Ecuador, where she acquired her nearly perfect Spanish as a child, and the Philippines. She attended Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY where she was a cheerleader and kept a diary of her favorite poems and philosophies, which she revisited often in her final weeks. She also attended UCSB and returned to New York to study at SUNY New Paltz. Michelle was a beloved teacher in New Paltz, Goleta Union, and the Hanford School District for over 30 years, where she was known as Mrs. Beloof. She gave generations of children a start in life as readers and writers. She taught them to look to the horizon, and beyond. She and her husband, Robert Leder, enjoyed traveling for his work at Bell Helicopter, as well as for pleasure. Michelle retired in Santa Barbara, where she delighted in Mexican cooking and watercoloring with her beloved sister, Lisa, was near her daughter, Paige, and taught us all that humor and compassion make every dish better.
Michelle is preceded in death by her parents as well as her daughter, Paige Beloof, whom she missed so much in her final year. She is survived by her husband, Robert Leder, her son, Matthew Beloof, her sister and brother-in-law, Lisa and Michael O’Connell, her brother and sister-in-law, Casey Jones and Lee Barton, and her nieces and nephews, to whom she was Ñaña. We were able to remind her in her final days and hours with us what we would always remember: feeding her baby brother a teaspoon of mustard and years later helping him with his science homework, listening to Glenn Yarborough records with her adoring husband in the summer of 1967, teaching her sister to read and play bluegrass autoharp, being a perfect shot when her son took her to target practice, and traveling to Prince Edward Island with her sister and niece. Her family will miss her profoundly. There was never, nor will there be, another person like Michelle, Mom, Ñaña. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.