Longtime valley resident Cynthia Lee Leinonen died Oct. 28 in Marin, California, with the love of her life, Dave, by her side. Her family provided the following.
Cindy had battled cancer for over two decades. Before she passed the hospital allowed her father, brother, sons and step-daughter to sit next to her, talk to her and hold her hand. Her family read scripture to her, prayed for her and Dave played her favorite hymns on his phone for her. Cindy will be remembered for her faith, smile and genuine love for those with whom she interacted.
Cindy was born Oct. 21, 1948, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the first of five children of Vern and Margaret Johnson. In 1957 the family moved to Los Angeles, where Cindy attended Sequoia Junior High and graduated from Reseda High School in 1966. She strived to spend as much time as she could with her friends and was active in the youth group at Canoga Baptist Church. Cindy was still meeting with several of her high school friends every Friday for “Zoom Happy Hour” up until the week preceding her admission to Marin General Hospital.
In 1968 Cindy married Don Bergstrom, whom she had known from Canoga Baptist; they continued to work with the youth group and served as counselors at the Hume Lake Christian Camps in Sequoia National Park. One of the most significant events in her life occurred in 1969 when Cindy’s sister, Kathy, died in a car accident. While mourning the loss of her sister, Cindy wrote the poem “Tomorrow.”
In 1972 Cindy gave birth to her first child, Matthew. She became an advocate for natural childbirth, counseled women on its benefits and taught natural childbirth classes in Moorpark, California. In 1975 she gave birth to her second child, Timothy, in the doctors’ office and brought him home the same day. Cindy was active in the Peach Hill neighborhood of Moorpark and the Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village.
Following her divorce from Don in 1980, Cindy attended California State University Northridge during the day and waited tables at the Good Earth in Encino at night. In 1984 she graduated from CSUN and began teaching biology and health at Grant High School in Van Nuys, California. She raised her two boys in Sherman Oaks and Agoura Hills. Like everywhere she spent time, she made lifelong friends at Grant. Cindy was adventurous and in 1985 she spent a month traveling in Europe.
In the spring of 1989, while traveling through Wyoming, Cindy stopped in Jackson Hole and instantly fell in love with the valley. In July she packed up her Toyota Tercel and moved to Jackson; Tim joined her a month later. She began selling advertising for the upstart radio station KZJH and worked as a hostess at the Mangy Moose. She took in all that Jackson had to offer: hiking, skiing, biking and camping. Like everywhere, she developed friendships that would last the rest of her life.
In 1991 Cindy met Dave Leinonen and they fell in love. She would forever refer to him as the sweetest and kindest man she ever met. Having raised two sons into adulthood, Cindy became a step-mother to Dave’s daughters, Lucy and Beth, when they married on Dec. 24, 1993. Cindy and Dave began attending the new Presbyterian Church of Jackson when it began meeting in the old elementary school. Cindy was active in the church as it grew, serving as a deacon and participating in the women’s group and Bible studies.
Cindy earned her nursing degree in 1994 and worked as an RN for Orthopedics of Jackson Hole for Dr. Peter Rork then Dr. Mary Hume Neal. Following her diagnosis with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, Cindy became a Realtor and broker.
In 2008, when Cindy’s daughter-in-law, Becca, went into labor in Albuquerque, Dave raced her to the airport in Idaho Falls. She arrived that night and held her first grandchild, Shane Bergstrom, only a few hours after he was born. In 2010 Becca gave birth to a second grandson, Ryan. Cindy developed a special love and relationship with Shane and Ryan. She never let too many months pass without a visit to spend time with them. She especially loved to lie in bed and read with them at night. She was always a proud grammy.
In 2011 Cindy and Dave moved to Bellingham, Washington, where she continued to work in real estate and participate in their local church. Cindy also volunteered her time teaching female inmates to read. In 2013 Cindy and Dave moved to Sonoma, California, where Cindy was active in their church, leading Bible studies and volunteering with a local charity. Cindy regularly travelled to their condo in Palm Springs, spending as much time as she could with Matthew, her parents and brothers. The only thing she loved more than a good book and hot cup of coffee was spending time with her family and friends.
Cindy’s faith was amazing and inspired everyone she met. She was loving and selfless. Her family and friends will grieve our loss, celebrate her life and rejoice that our Lord has received her, restored her and placed on her head the crown of righteousness.
Cindy was preceded in death by her mother, Margaret Johnson, and sister, Kathleen Johnson. She is survived by her father, Vern Johnson; husband Dave Leinonen; brothers Richard, Dave and Dan Johnson; sons Matthew and Timothy Bergstrom; daughter-in-law Becca Bergstrom; step-daughters Lucy Mullendore and Beth Moore; sons-in-law Danny Mullendore and Mike Moore; and grandchildren Shane, Ryan, Aven, Pheo and Marek.