CAYARD, Leonora Balla, a resident of the retirement community Sherwood Oaks in Cranberry Township, PA, passed away on December 14, 2012.
She was born on September 15, 1924, in Muenster, Germany, and grew up in Marburg, Germany. She was the daughter of Emil Balla, a professor of Hebrew Language and Old Testament Literature at Marburg University, and his wife Gertrud, nee Hecht.
Leonora was 8-years-old when Hitler came to power, and 14 when World War II started in Germany. Her parents were known to be opponents of the Nazi regime, and her mother's father was of Jewish descent. These facts could have caused the family to be sent to a Nazi concentration camp, but with the help of a friendly administrator at Marburg University, they were protected.
During the war years, Marburg was the occasional target of Allied bombing raids, and the family took refuge in an air-raid shelter they had built under their home. Neighbors joined them there, among them a family with three little boys who screamed frantically when they were carried through the night to this shelter. Seeing the suffering that war brought to these innocent children, Leonora promised herself that she would devote her life to working for peace so that children would not have to suffer war any more.
Leonora studied foreign languages at Marburg University, but her main interest was studying music and playing the violin, which enabled her to join the Marburg Symphony Orchestra. In 1949, she had the opportunity to study in the United States on a fellowship at Yale University, combining her interest in languages with her passion for music. Her determination to work for peace brought her in contact with the New Haven Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), where she found a religious home.
After a year of study at Yale, she accepted an appointment as instructor in German at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she also learned as much as possible about our democratic form of government. Before returning to Germany, she participated in a six-week Peace Training Workshop sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, one of the oldest religious peace organizations in this country, learning theories and practices of working for peace. One of the participants in this workshop was Wallace Cayard from Texas, who had also become a Quaker a year earlier.
Their common faith and values brought the two together, and at the end of the six weeks they were engaged. The couple was married in Germany in 1952. After their return to the States, Leonora became a German language teacher and continued her musical activities while her husband was in graduate school. In the summer of 1956 they moved to West Liberty, West Virginia, where Wallace had accepted a teaching position. Leonora was busy at home with four small children born within five years.
In 1959, the family moved to Wheeling, WV. Leonora and her family became members of Pittsburgh Friends Meeting where she was an active and dearly loved member of the Quaker community. When the children began school, Leonora returned to teaching German, first part-time at West Liberty University, then full-time at Bethany College. She developed the foreign language department at Bethany and soon became its head, and also continued to play violin in the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
Leonora continued teaching until her retirement in 1986. After retirement, Leonora and Wallace spent most of their time working for peace. In 1989, they decided to move to Sherwood Oaks, a retirement community north of Pittsburgh, where Leonora was able to continue enjoying her passion for performing and teaching music.
Her husband, Wallace Cayard, predeceased her.
She is survived by four children: Lisa Cayard (and husband Mark Roberts), Steve Cayard (and wife Angela DeRosa,) Cathy Habschmidt (and husband Larry,) and Susan Cayard, as well as by six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She also leaves two nieces in Germany, Cornelia Balla and Ursula Balla. Leonora leaves a remarkable legacy of devoted love for her family and dedication to making the world a more peaceful place for all children.
Funeral Arrangements were entrusted to the Glenn-Kildoo Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., 130 Wisconsin Avenue, Cranberry Township, PA 16066.
Please send a personal tribute to www.glenn kildoofuneral home.com.