I was saddened to learn of the death of Jean Leinhauser, who passed away today from a heart attack.
Jean was a pioneer in the crochet pattern publishing field. She founded not only Leisure Arts back in the 70's, but also the American School of Needlework. She has published countless crochet books with her business partner, Rita Weiss.
Before Jean started Leisure Arts, most crochet patterns were published by yarn and thread mills. There were a few designers who self-published their designs, such as Elizabeth Hiddleson and Esther Parnell Hewlett, and there were a few magazines, such as Workbasket, that published crochet patterns. But I believe that Leisure Arts was the first company to publish pattern leaflets by different designers and market them to department stores and other retail outlets.
I first met Jean at a Crochet Guild convention several years ago. She was a sweet lady who always seemed to be surrounded by a bevy of designers and admirers. After I left DRG and began self-publishing, I wrote to her, asking about the possibility of submitting some of my designs for a book she was editing. I never assume that anyone will remember me, so I re-introduced myself, telling her who I was and where we had met. She wrote me back saying, "Of course I remember you, you are the girl from Texas who drinks Dr. Pepper." After I opened my website last year, she wrote me a kind note, complimenting my designs and wishing me success. It meant a great deal to me that she thought well of my work.
She was a great lady, and the world of crochet owes her much. She will be greatly missed.