Spotlight – Leona Blackbird
Leona Blackbird was born in New Orleans, grew up in Iowa, went to high school and college in the Carolinas, lived for 20 years, off and on, in Santa Barbara and moved to SLC in 1980. Santa Barbara was lovely, of course, and was her first experience with the West. The “off and on” part is because she was married to a field meteorologist at the time and we spent a few winters in Elko, NV and one in Kalispell, MT.
She has a BA in psychology from Duke–a fairly useless diploma in her opinion. However, it did lead directly to her career. As part of the major requirements, she had to take a course in statistics. When she applied for a job at a weather company in Santa Barbara they asked if she could do a correlation coefficient and she said yes. She was hired on the spot. She started out as a data clerk, learned to program in the 70’s and ended up as systems manager. She worked at that company from 1960 to 1998 and met her husband there. In 1998, after the company had been bought by a large soulless outfit back east, Leona and four others left and started our own company. She retired in 2011, having spent 51 years associated with meteorologists and numbers.
After the husband in question died, she met and married David Blackbird in 1990. It was he who introduced her to humanism. He had read a book by Corliss Lamont and gave it to her, saying that it sounded more like her than him. She read it and immediately joined the AHA. She had not had a religious upbringing, but if you’d asked me if she believed in God when she was 15 or 20 she would have said “Of course–doesn’t everyone?” She had sort of slowly come to realize that she was an atheist, but it wasn’t until she was introduced to humanism that she knew there were others who thought like she did. She didn’t do much with the HoU until they needed a treasurer. She thinks that was in 2002 and she’s been the treasurer ever since.
She is an avid reader. She belongs to two book groups, so she read lots of things that she wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. Right now, she’s reading The Gene–An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee, which is definitely not something she would have picked up on her own. She reads biographies, novels, mysteries, and anything else that strikes her fancy. She also plays a lot of bridge–not competitively; just for fun and sociability.
She belongs to AAUW (American Association of University Women) both for social reasons and because of their positions on equal rights and educational opportunities for women. She also belongs to Compassion and Choices (the old Hemlock Society) to support death with dignity and aid in dying.
Humanists of Utah is indeed lucky to have Leona as a member!
—Sally Jo Fuller