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Originally published Friday, June 1, 2012 at 7:55 PM

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Gloria Leonidas filled many community roles before deadly tragedy

The woman killed in a shooting rampage Wednesday near Town Hall is remembered as a gourmet cook, successful fundraiser and an expert in lighting.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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How cool that she helped relight the Statue of Liberty. A life well-lived. MORE
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Gloria Leonidas was a gourmet cook, a gracious hostess, a tireless fundraiser for health care and an expert in the art of lighting.

"She had just such an incredible strength about her, and yet an amazing warmth and sense of compassion," said Father Photios Dumont of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, where she was a member, along with her husband, Tom, and their two daughters.

Leonidas, 52, of Bellevue, was among the victims of Wednesday's shooting rampage by Ian Stawicki, who fatally shot her in a parking lot at Eighth Avenue and Seneca street adjacent to Town Hall.

She was an expert in commercial lighting and was well-known in the lighting community, Dumont said. She worked on the relighting of the Statue of Liberty during its restoration in the 1980s. More recently, she worked in sales at Electrical Reps West, a lighting company, and was active in the Puget Sound chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about lighting.

Dumont said Leonidas was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and grew up in Dallas, where she worked for a time as an electrician. He said she sometimes joked that if she wasn't successful professionally, "She could always go back to Texas and pull wire."

"She was very authentic," he said. "What you saw was exactly who she was."

But she was also an amazing gourmet cook, whose culinary and decorating talents rivaled those of Martha Stewart, Dumont said.

Dumont and his wife were guests at the Leonidas house on several occasions, and during one dinner, she served her guests a delicate dish in which a paper-thin pastry enveloped the food.

"I remember sitting there looking at my wife and thinking, 'Is this paper?' This has to come off, right?" Dumont said. "Gloria knew exactly what I was thinking, and she said, 'Father, eat it! It's completely edible!' "

Leonidas served on the Evergreen Health Foundation board for 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, "where her creative energy and caring spirit helped define the vision of the foundation's primary fundraiser, the annual Gala," said a statement from Kae Peterson, the foundation's executive director.

She was also active as a volunteer at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, the First Hill private school her daughters attended.

"She was just an extraordinary person and her loss is immense — just immense," Dumont said. "Our community will never be the same."

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or klong@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @katherinelong.

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