Cover photo for Kate Leese's Obituary

Kate Leese

November 5, 1986 — November 13, 2021

Kate Leese

On Saturday, November Thirteenth, 2021, Adam Kendall and Kate Leese perished in a commercial plane crash landing on Beaver Island, Michigan. It was a flight they had taken dozens of times since moving to the remote island thirty miles northwest of Charlevoix to start a vineyard on an old farm five miles from the lone town of Saint James. The vineyard was a final stop for the couple who had embarked six years earlier on a wandering lifestyle in a refurbished airstream in search of new horizons.

They loved each other dearly, crisscrossing the great American west, sleeping on public land, armed with more Verizon wifi accounts than they cared to admit from which they ran a successful disaster management consultancy. Their companions were two tricolored dogs; a sad, particular basset hound named Frank and his joyful younger brother; a Berner named Baker. They met people along the way and wrote about life and took pictures of the travel. She could cook and so could he and they often did; small intimate meals for just the two of them and this marvelous beef tri-tip roast for large gatherings.

Born on the same day in November two years apart, they both used to summer on the water in Charlevoix, Michigan as teenagers, the proverbial two ships passing in the night, but it was fifteen years later in 2013 through a mutual friend they met. He was living in Seattle and ‘happened’ to fly home to Jackson for a planned meet cute. On date two she flew to Seattle, and they shopped at a market, and he cooked her a meal from scratch. They were happily married on the First of August 2015 at Samels Farm under a giant oak on a golden summer day. Years later they would return to Charlevoix County to pause their wandering and plant 2,100 grape roots into the fine limestone soil of Beaver Island.

Survived by their parents: Rob and LeeAnn Kendall and Alan and Chris Leese and siblings: Rob Kendall and Josh, Kyle, Amanda and Colton Leese---they died with their arms around each other with the dogs on their laps in a moment of immense cruelty. They were entangled in death and as they had been in life and as they had entangled all they met in their many sojourns. We miss their love deeply and the joy they brought. Kate is also survived by a grandmother, Ardith (Tootsie) DeGraff and preceded in death by grandparents Robert (Corkey) DeGraff, and Roy (Esther) Leese.

Services for Adam and Kate will be held at the Center Point Assembly of God Church, in Charlevoix, Michigan, at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, November 21, 2021.  Visitation will be at the church on Saturday, November 20th, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., and on Sunday, November 21st, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.  You can livestream the Funeral Service via facebook at

To honor the lives of Adam and Kate, the families invite gifts to the Beaver Island Enrichment Fund at the Charlevoix County Community Foundation.  Checks made payable to the “Charlevoix County Community Foundation,” with Adam Kendall and Kate Leese on the memo line, can be sent to C3F, POB 718, East Jordan, MI  49727.  Gifts can also be made online at using the Make a Gift tab.

Arrangements are in the care of the Charlevoix Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes.  Sign her online guestbook

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kate Leese, please visit our flower store.


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