THERE WAS something about Catherine Leatherbury that drew people to her.
Friends and neighbors would drop by her house in Overbrook just to be with her and soak up the warmth of her loving personality.
Catherine devoted much of her life to caring for others, especially children, for whom she had a special place in her heart.
Catherine LeVere-Leatherbury, a retired beautician, an active churchwoman who traveled to Europe and Africa on missionary excursions, an artist, a loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died Dec. 3. She was 89 and was living in Dauphin, Pa., but had lived most of her life in Philadelphia.
"She was a loving and serving woman," said her son Rev. Philip Leatherbury. "Everyone loved her."
"I remember her as a 'people magnet,' " said a longtime friend, Jean Waites-Howard, an evangelist and social worker. "Her abundant love for others drew people to her in a profound and lasting way. I am blessed to have known her and her gracious, loving spirit."
Catherine was born in Tappahannock, Va., to Gladys and George Lynch. She was raised by her grandparents, Charles and Jennie LeVere.
She attended grade school in the Warsaw County, Va., public-school system, then in 1938 moved to Philadelphia to be with her parents. She attended Simon Gratz High School, then graduated from the Berean Institute School of Cosmetology.
She worked in cosmetology until 1987, when she retired from Gene's Beauty Salon, in Center City.
Catherine began her religious journey at the 19th Street Baptist Church, in South Philadelphia, and later joined Goodwill Tabernacle Baptist Church, in West Philadelphia.
She eventually became a member of the Memorial Church of God in Christ, in Haverford. She served in a number of ministries, including Christian Family Circle, dedicated to promoting the sanctity of marriage.
Catherine married Kershaw Leatherbury Sr. on July 23, 1950. She joined him when he was assigned to the pastorate of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ by the late Bishop O.T. Jones Jr.
She and her husband then founded Good Shepherd Church of God in Christ, in South Philadelphia, and later became members of Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, at 60th and Callowhill streets. She was active with the Social Guild and served as its president.
"Catherine was a passionate and loving saint of God, deeply concerned about the salvation of children," her family said. "Catherine always said God gave her a vision to 'save the children,' which enabled her to minister to many of the children in the area."
Assisting in missionary work for the church, she visited Europe and Africa. Catherine was a talented artist whose paintings are cherished by family and friends. She also created porcelain and ceramic pottery, which she gave as gifts.
"Catherine loved her family and made many sacrifices throughout her life for them," her family said. "She was strong in the faith and would often tell her family, 'If I don't see you again, I'll see you in heaven.' "
At her death, Philadelphia City Council approved a citation to commemorate her service to the community.
Her husband died in 1988. Besides her son, she is survived by another son, Kershaw Leatherbury Jr.; a daughter, Kim Arlene Fersner; two brothers, Landon and Edward Lynch; two sisters, Barbara Brown and Ida Johnson; six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.