Johanna (Hanny) Leitson (nee Gross), 96, passed away on April 1, 2022, after a short illness. She was born and lived her childhood years in Vienna, Austria. In May 1939, at age 13, her parents arranged for her to flee German-occupied Austria on the Kindertransport, an emergency transport of 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to England. Throughout World War II, she lived with a family in Cheltenham, England until traveling in 1944 to be with her mother in New York City, at age 19.

She received her BA and MSW from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and worked as a social worker and therapist in Flint, Michigan. After her husband Mort died, she lived and worked as a therapist in Ann Arbor. For the last 14 years, she resided in Oak Park.

She was socially and politically engaged throughout her life, beginning as a teenager during WWII with Young Austria, an organization of exiled Austrians living in England, dedicated to a free and democratic Austria. She became a civil rights activist while a university student and, later, when living in Flint. She was an early opponent of the Vietnam War and attended the first national Day of Protest against the War in Chicago in 1964. She also helped establish the Flint chapter of Planned Parenthood. While in Ann Arbor, she assisted low-income seniors living in shared affordable housing. Perhaps most notably, she was a wonderful and valued listener who loved talking with and being supportive of friends and family.

Hanny is the daughter of Charlotte and Max Gross; wife of the late Morton Leitson; mother of Karen (White Plains, NY), Mark (Oak Park) and Ruth (Asheville, NC); mother-in-law of Jeffrey Grabelsky (Karen), Pamela Strauss (Mark) and Martin Tatarka (Ruth); grandmother of Leah, Shira, and Jenny Grabelsky (Scott Macguffin) and of Sarah, Joshua and David Leitson; and great-grandmother of Finnean Macguffin.

Her cremated remains will be interred at Macpelah Cemetery in Flint, Michigan on June 12. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Fellowship of Reconciliation, or Planned Parenthood.

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