Jean Marie O’Leary

Jean Marie O’Leary

March 04, 1948 - June 04, 2005

Jean Marie O’Leary

March 04, 1948 - June 04, 2005


Jean O’Leary
March 4, 1948 – June 4, 2005

Democratic Party leader and Lesbian and Gay activist Jean O’Leary died a peaceful death after a two-year struggle with cancer. At her side was her loving partner of 12 years, Lisa Phelps their daughter Victoria and Jean’s closest friends.

Jean spent her life advocating for the rights of lesbian, gays, people with HIV/AIDS and women. As a prominent Democratic activist she was able to open many political doors for diverse communities. Over the course of her 35-year career she led several national gay rights organizations including National Gay Rights Advocates, National Gay Task Force now known as NGLTF. Jean co-founded pioneering organizations including Lesbian Feminist Liberation and National Coming Out Day. Her activism in Democratic politics resulted in the election of many progressive candidates.

Jean loved to read and she loved music. She loved her Papillion puppy Buster her home in Palm Springs and a good martini. She loved traveling for political events and for pleasure. Jean was well known for her love of Christmas and her insatiable desire to buy the right gift for all the loved ones in her life.

Jean was preceded in death by her mother and father. She is survived by her life partner Lisa Phelps, Victoria Phelps, their son David DeMaria and his partner James Springer and their son Aiden her sister Diane Urig and her two brothers Ken and James O’Leary. She will also be truly missed by the thousands of people whose lives she has touched but especially by her special friends, Midge Costanza, Sean Strub, Suz Lanier, Claire Jordan Grant, Michelle O’Neill, Pam Genevrino and her business partner Ginny Foat.

A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles at a later date. In lieu of flowers a donation can be made in Jean’s name to the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, the Desert Pride Center or the Human Rights Campaign.

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2 responses to Jean Marie O’Leary

  1. Jean — I want to thank you for all you have done: your life-long activism, your many contributions to our cause. Your hard work, energy, contribtions and creativity will live on.

    I will always remember those early exciting years working with you in New York, in both LFL and the Task Force. We will miss you, Jean, but know your legacy will live on.

    love, karol

  2. Barb Wenzler says:

    I was Jean’s best friend from 8th grade through high school. My heart is so full of memories. There will never be another Jean. I have always been taught that it is our responsibility to leave this world a better place when we leave it….but, how many of us can actually say that……only Jean….talk about leaving the world a better place….leaving such a legacy…..isn’t that what it’s really all about. When Jean left Cleveland….I cried & cried, but I knew I had to let her go…she had to change the world…she had a lot to do, so I had to let her go. You guys, I hope you know how lucky you were to have had Jean for so long…I only had her for a short time…but I remember every one of those minutes….this, no one can take from me…thank God. Rest in peace, Jean, you were one in a million ….Gentle Care & Abundant Blessings. Your “Partner in Crime” at Magnificat High School.
    Barb Brown

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