Obituary: Leonoor Mastboom Zehner / Member of city's arts community

June 29, 1949 - July 2, 2013

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Leonoor Mastboom Zehner of Churchill, a longtime member of the Pittsburgh arts community, died of complications related to a brain aneurism on July 2. She was 64.

Ms. Zehner was born in the Netherlands and spent much of her life traveling. It was during one of these trips, a cruise across the Atlantic on the Holland America line, that she met Lisle Zehner III, her husband of 42 years.

"She was a very elegant woman, even as a young 20-year-old girl," Mr. Zehner said. "She had a real fashion sense."

After the cruise, the couple married in the Netherlands and then moved to Pittsburgh. Although Ms. Zehner was a Pittsburgher for most of her life, she brought her love for Dutch food to Pennsylvania. Her family was in the chocolate business in the Netherlands and she insisted on eating Dutch cheese and Dutch licorice, Mr. Zehner said.

In Pittsburgh, Ms. Zehner enrolled in classes at Chatham University's Gateway program. Many of the people she met there became lifelong friends. Lori Hornell, who became her art adviser, met Ms. Zehner at Chatham, and the two remained friends for the next 40 years.

Ms. Hornell said Ms. Zehner was "scintillating. She had an aura. She glowed."

Ms. Zehner's art classes at Chatham kicked off a passion for art that lasted throughout her life. She was an active member and past president of the Fiberarts Guild, and she sat on the board of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. She was also a board member of the Society for Contemporary Craft and a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.

During her time as a member of the arts community in Pittsburgh, Mr. Zehner said two of the projects his wife was most proud of were the $4 million capital campaign she helped to spearhead as a part of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and a charity event for which she made all the costumes that took place at the Wintergarden at PPG Place.

Besides her commitment to the arts, Ms. Zehner will be remembered for her love of family. She was on the boards of the Family Health Council, Family Adoption Center and James Holmes Residence. She also was a dedicated mother to her daughter, Isabel, a senior communications major at Boston University.

Throughout her life, her friends and family said Ms. Zehner was defined by her unique sense of fashion. Her husband laughed when asked to describe how she dressed and called it "eclectic."

"She sure could mix things and look like a million bucks," he said.

Ms. Hornell said Ms. Zehner's personality and fashion sense led her to paint a portrait of her. She said Ms. Zehner would dress in unconventional clothing topped with vibrant eyes, golden hair and lipstick.

In the final years of her life, Mr. and Ms. Zehner owned Country Barns, a company that sells Amish-built barns, gazebos and play sets.

Besides her husband and daughter, she is survived by siblings, Harriet Mastboom, Peter Paul Mastboom and Marie-Jose Mastboom, all of the Netherlands, and Joyce Mastboom of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

There was a gathering of family and friends Wednesday at Cremation and Funeral Care, 3287 Washington Road, Peters.

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