Leota Vyrl Bruce, 104, of Blue Bell, PA, formerly of Ottawa, KS, passed away Dec. 13, 2019. A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 pm Saturday, January 25, 2020 at Bruce Funeral Home, Gardner, KS (913) 856-7111 with a Visitation at 1:00 pm before the service. Inurnment at a later date in Prescott Cemetery, Prescott, KS. Memorial contributions may be made to the Fort Scott Community College Endowment, 2108 S. Horton, Fort Scott, KS 66701 or American Red Cross of Capital Area Kansas, 1321 SW Topeka Blvd., Topeka, KS 66612. Condolences may be left at www.brucefuneralhome.com
Leota was born Dec. 30, 1914 in Amos, MO to Edwin Ray and Florence Inez (Umphenour) Hinderliter. She attended a rural school in Amos, MO and graduated from Hume High School in Hume, MO. Leota graduated from Fort Scott Junior College in 1935 and then graduated from Ottawa University with a BA in Education in 1961. She began her teaching career in 1936 in a rural school in Fulton, KS where she taught until 1941. She married Ralph Arthur Bruce on April 12, 1941 in Fulton, KS. At that time Leota joined Ralph at Kansas State University where he was completing a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Following his service in the Army, they moved to Ottawa in 1946. Leota returned to teaching in 1954. During her many years at Hawthorne Elementary she established the tradition of the Kindergarten Circus. Past students would recognize her on the street and talk about their role as elephant, tiger, ringmaster or juggler. New kindergartners would ask on the first day of school if there would be a circus for them. Leota taught for 23 years at Hawthorne Elementary and for 6 years at Eisenhower Elementary School; retiring in 1979.
Leota was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Ottawa. She was a founding member of the Tot to Teen Women’s Club established in 1949 which met in the Methodist Church. The name of the group changed to Inter Se, and she continued in the group until she moved to Pennsylvania in 2012. She was a Girl Scout Leader for five years. Leota was also active in New Dimensions Circle at First Methodist Church and continued to get greetings from the group until her death. She and Ralph traveled extensively, visiting Hong Kong, Japan, China, England, Fiji, Australia, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and France. Their home on Hickory Street in Ottawa was the site of many Hinderliter and Bruce family gatherings.
Ralph her husband of 54 years preceded her in death in 1995. Also preceding her were her sister, Welcome VanSickle; brother, Raymond Hinderliter and granddaughter, Kristin McCarthy. Leota is survived by her daughter, Carrol McCarthy and husband Tom, Audubon, PA; son, Gordon Bruce, Des Moines, IA; six grandchildren: Megan King, Stephen McCarthy, Scott Bruce, Julie Buckner, Neal Bruce and Stephen Bruce; eleven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great nephews.