Leora Fay “Tolli” Courtney

Leora Fay “Tolli” Courtney, 90 passed away peacefully on July 14 in Lawrence, Kansas.  Born to Harry and Jewell (Whiteman) Carson in Sedalia, Missouri on March 15, 1927, Tolli spent most of her childhood there. She attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in Maryville, where she met her future husband, James D. Courtney. They were married on June 8, 1947, in Creston, Iowa, at a ceremony officiated by her brother-in-law.  Anxious to settle their first apartment, located in Maryville, they cut short their honeymoon automobile trip through Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. After Jay (as he was known) graduated, the couple lived briefly in Reserve, Kansas, then Falls City, Nebraska, before moving to Effingham, Kansas, where they would live for several years. While there, Tolli was a correspondent writing for the Atchison Globe and she authored “The First Hundred Years – Effingham Kansas – 1868-1968.” Tolli and Jay moved to Manhattan, Kansas in 1968 with the younger four of their eight children; the older four were in college at the time. While there, Tolli took classes at Kansas State University and student taught at Manhattan Junior High School to complete her college degree. She nursed her husband at home through cancer for three years before his death in 1975, after which she enjoyed a career with Manhattan Mutual Life Insurance Company until they relocated out-of-state. She then moved to Lawrence, Kansas to work for the University of Kansas School of Education from which she eventually retired.


Tolli was known for her lemon bars and chocolate fudge, the latter of which she attributed to Mamie Eisenhower’s recipe. A voracious reader of books, magazines and recipes, she completed crossword puzzles in ink, wrote personal letters in cursive, and would play games and read with her grandchildren for hours on end. Slow to adapt to new technology, she nonetheless mastered online solitaire and watching Netflix on her computer. Friends and family helped grow Tolli’s elephant collection to include critters from around the country and world and she cherished every gift she was ever given.


Tolli is survived by her eight children:

Roger, Overland Park

Scott (Eileen Koutelas), Glenwood Springs, CO

Clifford, Deland, FL

Clinton (Mary Jane), Mounds View, MN

Kathleen (John) Grieve, Wise River, MT

Karen (Don) Messner, Kirkland, WA

Larry (Karen), Overland Park

Roxy (Scott) Johanning, Berryton


Tolli is also survived by 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, her sister, Alice Isbell, Kansas City, KS, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and siblings Dorothy “Vera” Rains, Thresa, Clinton “Bub,” ”Lafe Clifford “Buzzy,” and Donald Mac “Jim” Carson.


Please join the family to share stories, memories, laughter, and each other’s company at a CELEBRATION OF LIFE OPEN HOUSE:

Saturday, July 22 from 2:30-5:00

Oak Room at the Community Center

Leawood City Hall

4800 Town Center Drive

Leawood, KS 66211

A shared prayer and family remembrances will begin at 3:30.


Memorial donations may be made to:

ACCHS Alumni Association Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

417 Main St.

PO Box 209

Effingham, Kansas 66023.

Please note for the Jay and Tolli Courtney Scholarship.


Love you more.

Messages & Condolences

From Charles Baars...

Condolences to the Courtney Family. In my prayers while you mourn your loss.

From Pam Scott...

I am very saddened to hear about Tolli. May parents thought a lot of her and Jay. May God give you all strength and love to get through this difficult time. Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers.

From Bill & Vicki White and Family...

May your find comfort and peace in the cherished memories.

From Jayne Gunn...

Roxy and family,
My deepest sympathy for all of you. Kevin and I will be praying for all of you!
Jayne Gunn

From Roline Campbell...

Dear Roxy, my deepest sympathy to you & your family after your Mom’s passing. I pray for God’s comfort and grace as you mourn & hope that all the happy memories you have will lighten the burden of grief.

From Jeanie Gechter Shilling...

So sorry to hear of Tolli’s passing. My deepest sympathy to all the Courtney family. I am in Colorado helping my son move from Eagle to Gypsum, CO. I haven’t been to Glenwood Springs yet, but if Eileen and Scott are there, I am not too far away. Wish we could make connections while I am here. I’m sure your Mom was a very patient woman to have 8 children! I am so sorry for your loss!

From Jim Good...

My deepest condolences to the entire Courtney family. I share many fond memories of Tolli, and my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

From Jim and Sandi Brown...

We are deeply saddened by the new of Tolli’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the family. A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds, through us, they live on. May you take comfort in knowing that heaven as received another angel to watch over you. Much love to all of you.

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