School 13

Mary Louise (Passmore) Legeza

December 31, 1934 ~ December 17, 2021 (age 86)


Mary Louise (Passmore) Legeza joined her beloved ancestors on Dec. 17, 2021, shortly before her 87th birthday. Louise was an intelligent, talented, creative and complex woman who lived a full life and made significant contributions to her adopted community. 

She was born Dec. 31, 1934, in East Cleveland, the only child of Archie Milo and C. Louise (Strietzel) Passmore. She spent her early years in Cleveland, exposed to and absorbing the culture of that bustling city, a life-long influence. At 10 she embarked on an adventure with her parents, traveling across the U.S. pulling a travel trailer, still a novel concept at that time. They spent a year exploring the country, landing in Florida where they lived for a time. When they returned to Ohio, the family bought land in Monroe Township and took up dairy farming. 

As a new student at Monroe School, she was given an assignment to research her new locale, and thus began her love affair with Conneaut! Louise graduated from Conneaut High School in 1953 and later that year married George E. Legeza, also of Monroe. They started their family in late 1954, and lived in North Carolina while George was stationed at Fort Bragg. They lived briefly in Cleveland before returning to settle in Conneaut, where they continued to grow their family and become business owners. 

Louise was profoundly influenced by her grandmother and aunt during her youth and, like them, had lots of opinions she wasn’t shy about sharing. This often worked in her favor, and sometimes didn’t. Nevertheless she channeled her enthusiasm for arts, culture and history into productive endeavors that enriched the lives of her family members and the community. 

From her teens until recent years when dementia tragically claimed her, Louise was very involved in organizational and community activities, particularly ones where she could advance her passions. These ranged from being a Monroe Grange member, an election poll worker for 25+ years, serving on the Conneaut Tourism Board and on the city’s first Design Review Board. As an award-winning amateur artist in the 1960s, Louise was an active member of the Conneaut Artists’ Guild. One of her highlights was being accepted into a juried show in Erie. As a member of the MacDowell Music Club she worked behind the scenes in local theater productions, progressing to co-executive director for two plays. 

George and Louise were among the founding members of the Conneaut Community Center for the Arts (now CAC) and the Conneaut Area Historical Society, for which Louise served a stint as newsletter editor. She was one of four founding members of the Ashtabula County Genealogical Society (ACGS) in 1973, and was president 1986-1990. She initiated their quarterly newsletter, “Ancestor Hunt,” and was editor for five years, as well as a board member for many years. In 1983 Louise undertook the massive job of project director of the “History of Ashtabula County — Then and Now,” a book compiled and published by ACGS in 1985. She wrote most of the Conneaut section as well as several other integral parts. Louise had numerous articles accepted for publication in various magazines, including the national genealogical magazine, “Heritage Quest,” in the 1980s.

In 1993 the Conneaut High School Centennial Committee published a history of the school entitled “CHS 100+” — the result of several years of work by Louise and her best friend, Martha Benson. They also partnered in writing historical texts of the county for one of Dr. Parminder Singh’s photography books. Although not a DAR member, Louise was asked to write the Ashtabula County section for the 2003 Ohio State DAR Centennial book, “Ohio and Her Counties.” 

She worked as a genealogical researcher for hire and also contributed research to various authors working on national projects with a local connection. She worked as a Realtor for six years in the 1980s. Louise was hired by the Ashtabula County District Public Library in 1987, and worked mostly at the Geneva Branch as archivist and staff genealogist — a job she loved — until retirement at age 80. The Archive room there is named in her honor. At the Geneva library, she presided over and helped grow the Platt R. Spencer collection, as well as promoting “The Father of American Penmanship” and his ties to Ashtabula County.

In 1996 she began writing a weekly freelance genealogy column for the Ashtabula Star Beacon that she continued for over 20 years. Louise first started digging into her family history around 1963, and others credit her as the first to start research on the Passmore “line.” She spent the rest of her life compiling and adding to the history of her various families and meeting new cousins found through genealogy. She also traveled to other states to attend genealogy conferences, both as a learner and presenter, and taught local classes on the topic. 

Louise was an avid reader of political and genealogical subjects, among other topics. She enjoyed collecting vintage postcards of local and Cleveland scenes, and passionately pursued collecting Conneaut memorabilia. 

She believed in exposure to history and the arts as a vital part of a well-rounded life, and to that end organized family travels that ranged from opera at Chautauqua to the Grand Ole Opry! The family went to two World’s Fairs and the International Exposition in Montreal. The children were raised on music and art, history and reading. Vacations were spent visiting museums, historical sites and natural phenomena. The family hosted two long-term and many short-term foreign exchange students.

Louise is survived by her children, Michael (Diane) Legeza, Pam (David) Simpson, Kasha (Jona Burton) Legeza and Babs Legeza; grandchildren, Jennifer (Joel Specht) Simpson, Beth Simpson, Neil (Jennifer Lyn) Simpson, Jebediah, Hunter and Sarah Legeza, August Fagerstrom, and Silvia and Clark Furman, and great-grandchildren Leo, Rosie, Raye and Archie. She is also survived by step-grandchildren, Ryan, Aaron, Kendra and Judson Soule and their spouses and children.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband George in 2016, and step-daughter Sandi Soule.

The family wishes to thank the staff of The Lantern of Saybrook for their care of Louise for the past five years and Hospice of the Western Reserve for their support. 

Private services and burial at Glenwood Cemetery in Conneaut were arranged by Marcy Funeral Home. Condolences can be posted at or sent to 229 Sandusky St., Conneaut. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Ashtabula County Genealogical Society 4335 Park Ave. Ashtabula, 44004, or the Conneaut Historical Society, 501 Sandusky St., Conneaut, 44030.


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Private family service

Marcy Funeral Home
208 Liberty Street
Conneaut, OH 44030


Ashtabula County Genealogical Society
4335 Park Ave., Ashtabula OH 44004

Conneaut Area Historical Society
501 Sandusky St, Conneaut OH 44030

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