September 20, 1952 – November 17, 2023
We are saddened to announce the passing of Kathleen Louise Coonfer on Friday, November 17, 2023.
Kathy was born in Toronto, Ontario, on September 20, 1952, to David and Shirley Espey. At the age of 7, her family moved to Calgary where she lived until she graduated from William Aberhart High School. She moved to Olds to attend Olds College, where she met her first husband. Her children were born in Olds, Jeff Leedahl in 1972 and Shari Leedahl in 1974. The family of four, moved from Olds to Hanna in 1975, then Sundre in 1978.
Kathy moved to Olds in 1983 with her children, where she later met and married her best friend, Cliff Coonfer. She and Cliff stayed in Olds until her passing. They did some traveling to warmer climates, however the highlight of their travelling was their trip to Ireland to visit family and Kathy’s father’s birthplace in Northern Ireland. While in Olds, Kathy held a variety of administrative assistant jobs and finished her career as an Executive Assistant at the Olds College with her retirement in 2013.
Kathy’s love of horses was a constant throughout her life. Her love of riding, gymkhana and barrel racing, was first fostered as a young girl at Simons Valley Ranch. One of her best friends through those years was an appaloosa named Penny. Penny was with Kathy during her rein as the Appaloosa Princess in 1971. Kathy was also very fond of her memory of riding the Touchdown horse for the Calgary Stampeders in 1971, when the Stamps won the Grey Cup in Vancouver.
When Kathy met Cliff in 1984, they shared a love of their geriatric horses, with Penny likely approving their marriage in 1985. Once becoming empty nesters, Kathy and Cliff got back to their love of horses. First with quarter horses with whom they enjoyed trail riding. They did some breeding but that venture really took off when they got involved with Standardbreds in 2006. They bought their first brood mare in 2009, and Kathy enjoyed her multiple trips to Pedigree Camp in Charlottetown where she dove in to learning about mare and stallion selection. Dungannon Standardbreds has foaled 35 foals over the past 14 years, and in 2022 they were awarded the Alberta Breeders Award of Recognition. She and Cliff enjoyed watching the races to cheer on their “kids”. As proud as she was of her opportunities to stand in the winner’s circle, her favorite time was in the barn visiting her babies.
The only thing that brought her more pride than her horses was her family including 4 grandchildren who she bragged of often. She will be missed as a loving, supportive wife, mother, grandmother and friend.
Kathy is lovingly remembered by her husband, Cliff Coonfer; daughter, Shari Leedahl (Linus Clark); daughter-in-law, Jacquie Leedahl; grandchildren, Easton and Elyssa Leedahl, Jaycee and Carlee Clark; numerous nieces, nephews, sisters & brother-in-laws and cousins.
Kathy was predeceased by her son, Jeff Leedahl; brother and sister-in-law, Al and Pat Espey; father, David Espey; mother, Shirley Espey; mother-in-law, Jean Coonfer.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.ca/donations) or Performance Standardbreds (www.p-standardbreds.org/friends-of-ps)
A memorial celebrating Kathy’s life will be held at Pomeroy Inn and Suites in Olds, Alberta on Sunday, November 26, 2023, at 2pm. Messages of condolence for the family may be left at www.prairierosefunerals.ca