Date of Birth
Date of Death
Leslie Arden (Garmer) Owings, age 73, of Geneva, IL, left this earthly life on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 at home in
Geneva, IL with her loving husband of forty-seven years and indefatigable care-giver, William Lamar Owings.
She was born to William McKinley Garmer and Grace Arden Elizabeth (DeLane) Garmer in Baltimore, MD on
December 8th, 1943. Leslie is the first born child of William and Grace and first born grandchild of William and
Catherine Garmer, Sr. and Robert and Rose Delane. She was baptized in the home of the elder Garmers by Rev.
Walter T. Jackson, minister of Faith Presbyterian Church. As recalled by her Aunt Phylllis Marie (Garmer) Seaborg,
Leslie was loved and cared for with the extra level of protectiveness understood only by first-time parents and her
early childhood was filled with extended family gatherings including Aunts, Uncles, and many cousins.
From an early age Leslie effortlessly developed strong bonds with everyone in her life through her warm, caring, and
unfailingly selfless personality. She maintained contact with nearly all of her extended family well into adulthood,
particularly her cousins who are all relatively close to her in age.
When Leslie was in grade school, the Garmer family, now including her younger brother William Robert Garmer,
born May 8th, 1946, moved to Media, PA. She later attended Penncrest Junior High School. Close friends from this
period recall that she enjoyed making dresses, an early expression of her multifaceted artistic ability. Her brother
William (Bill) Garmer recalls family trips to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware during the summer months to visit and
reconnect with the extended east coast family.
The Garmer family made an additional move just before Leslie was ready to attend high school, this time to Carollton,
KY. As her brother Bill recalls, she made friends quickly and easily and there is a wealth of stories that many of them
shared from this period in her life. As one friend recalls, Leslie immediately noticed the conspicuous absence of pizza
from the menus of the local diners and restaurants. Not only was pizza unavailable on any menu, none of her new
friends had ever tried it and didn’t even know how to make it. This was astounding and unacceptable to Leslie, who
promptly invited her classmates to her house for a homemade pizza party. Another close friend, who was one of the
first in the class to earn a drivers license, recalls many stories involving their tightly knit group of six that referred to
themselves as “Moosehoof”. One story in particular perfectly encapsulates the way that Leslie lived her life. The
group was out driving around in a vehicle borrowed from an older sister, a 1950 Plymouth coupe nicknamed “The
Black Witch”, that had no windshield wipers. They got caught in a rainstorm and Leslie leaned out the driver side
window and used her arm to wipe the windshield. This story provides a small glimpse into the nature of Leslie’s soul,
always going above and beyond expectations, surprising people with her creative energy and ingenuity, and even
sacrificing her own safety and comfort for the sake of others.
Leslie graduated from Carroll County High School in 1962. She and several friends enrolled in Eastern Kentucky
University in the Fall of 1962. In her junior year Leslie transferred to the University of Kentucky to take advantage of
a larger art program but always looked back fondly on her experience at Eastern, particularly in the sculpture
department. After college, in 1967, Leslie moved to Atlanta where she shared an apartment with three close friends.
Although she couldn’t have known it at the time, their apartment was across a parking lot from her future husband,
Lamar Owings. One fateful meeting in the parking lot led to a blossoming romance through the exchange of notes
left on windshields.
Leslie’s first Atlanta job was in a marketing program at Sears, which did not prove to be very rewarding. In 1968 she
began teaching kindergarten at St. Thomas More School in Decatur, GA. She was a wonderful teacher and
thoroughly enjoyed the job until shortly before the birth of her first child in March, 1974. She connected with her
young students and several of them kept in touch as they grew up, one of them even came to visit and catch up
twenty-five years later.
Leslie Garmer and Lamar Owings were married on Februayr 28th, 1970 in the Emory Presbyterian Church, Decatur,
GA. Her kindergarten class sang at the wedding. By that time Lamar had made a career change from teaching and
coaching and was employed in the chemical industry.
Upon the arrival of Nathan Lamar Owings on March 10th, 1974 Leslie adapted beautifully to the role of mother and
homemaker. In May 1976 Lamar’s employer, Michigan Chemical Corp., transferred the young family to the Chicago
area where they settled in Geneva, IL.
During the summer and fall of 1976 they enjoyed getting to know Chicagoland, but the first winter in the Midwest
was a bit rough. Temperatures in January 1977 reached minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Lamar’s company went through
a merger and job security was in question. However, they weathered the storm. Leslie blossomed into a superlative
mother & household manager while Lamar did a lot of traveling. She established herself in the community through
her artistic talents, her membership in garden club and a short stint as church secretary at St. Marks Episcopal Church.
In the spring of 1979 they decided that they wanted to have another child. Amanda Delane Owings brought them great
joy when she arrived on February 1st, 1980. Shortly thereafter Leslie decided to join Fox Valley Presbyterian Church,
where she taught Sunday School for several years and formed many cherished friendships.
Following a family trip to Saugatuck, MI in 1991, where she was inspired by a small bead and jewelry store, Leslie
and her close friend Jean Narimatsu opened the Beadhive in Geneva the following year. Leslie put her artistic touch
on every aspect of running the shop, creating beautiful and unique jewelry and touching the lives of every single
customer she encountered. Over the course of the 23 years, she helped restore family heirlooms, create beautifully
personalized wedding party jewelry, countless rosaries, first communion, mother and grandmother jewelry with new
babies birthstones, the list is endless for the ways she was able to tell people’s stories through the personal jewelry she
made for them while listening to them speak of their lives.
Leslie became a grandmother on November 7th, 2009 with the birth of Milo Arden Owings. Her gentle, nurturing
attention to Milo has made an indelible impression on him and helped to shape his deeply contemplative and
thoughtful personality and his love of reading, writing, drawing, and painting.
On August 19th, 2012, Leslie welcomed her only granddaughter into the world. She stayed up all night until she heard
the news of Lorelei DeLane Goodwillie’s arrival. (Named after Leslie’s mother, Grace DeLane). She drove nearly
every week to Evanston to spend time watching her grow, teaching her how to draw, fascinating her with her Donald
Duck impression and her ability to create rhymes for hours, doing yoga together, and crafting a fairy garden. She
taught her, at not even 2 years old, how to whistle, which no one did more than Leslie. The souls of these two have
known each other for a long time.
Nolan Voss Owings was born on February 2nd, 2013. Leslie was able to attend the doctor’s appointment where it was
determined that grandchild number three is a boy. Nolan’s spirited personality, blue eyes and bright red hair, and
passionate enthusiasm for all manner of wheeled vehicles filled her heart with happiness.
Leslie heard the news of her fourth grandchild before the battle with her illness began, and she then lovingly and
hopefully nicknamed him her arrow, guiding her and all of us through the storm. She went into surgery humming “Me
and My Arrow” by Harry Nilsson with her goal of knowing him in strong focus. Grahame Leslie Arden Goodwillie
was born on May 3rd, 2016. (Named for his strong and beautiful grandmother). She saw him every week after he
came into the world and they developed their own language. As she grew stronger, she nicknamed him her Grahame
cracker and she looked forward to visits planning his first birthday, which she celebrated with him at home in the
She now joins her parents, William and Grace (Delane) Garmer. She leaves behind her husband, Lamar; two children: Nate (Kate) Owings and Amanda (Quinn) Goodwillie; four grandchildren: Milo Owings, Lorelei Goodwillie, Nolan Owings and Grahame Goodwillie and one brother, Bill (Kim) Garmer.
A service to celebrate Leslie’s life will be held at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side Dr., Geneva, IL
60134, on Saturday, September 9th, at 11:00 AM, followed by a lunch/reception at the church. In lieu of flowers, the
family requests that donations be made in Leslie’s name to the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute. Please follow the
A service to celebrate Leslie's life will be held at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side Dr., Geneva, IL 60134, on Saturday, September 9th, at 11:00 AM, followed by a lunch/reception at the church.