Reflections of Life
Leilana Charelya McKindra was born on September 20, 1973, in Kansas City, Kansas, to Howard and Beatrice McKindra. Known for her 1,000-watt smile, wicked sense of humor and positive attitude, she was a beloved sister, daughter and friend.
Leilana graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in 1992, and she went on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Texas Christian University as well as a Master of Arts degree in communication studies from the University of Kansas. Over the course of her 25+ year career, Leilana held positions as a writer, editor, media relations manager and communications specialist at the NCAA, Oklahoma State University and the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Born and raised as a member of St. Peter C.M.E. Church, Leilana has served in the choir, Christian Youth Fellowship and youth usher board. She also delivered the weekly announcements as a teenager. As an adult, she was an active member of Phillips Temple C.M.E. Church in Indianapolis and Greater Cleaves Memorial C.M.E. Church in Oklahoma City — serving as a trustee and children’s church worker.
Leilana was a multifaceted individual with a wide range of interests and passions. An avid reader with a preference for mystery and romance novels, she had been working on a manuscript for a novel (affectionately known in her immediate family as “the never-ending story”) for the last several years. She was also a dedicated powerlifter. She competed in deadlifting meets all over the country and even built an in-home gym in her father’s basement so she could continue to train during the pandemic. Leilana was a fan of sports in general, but she particularly loved her KU Jayhawks (Rock Chalk, baby!).
A former debutante, Leilana was initiated into the illustrious sisterhood of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., through Kappa Lambda chapter on the campus of TCU in 1995. She continued her engagement as a graduate member of Mu Omega chapter in Kansas City, Kansas, and Alpha Mu Omega chapter in Indianapolis, Indiana. She had recently reactivated with Mu Omega in 2022.
Leilana transitioned from labor to reward on January 12, 2023. Left to cherish her memory are her father, Howard McKindra; siblings, Traci McKindra Harper (Carlton Jr.) and Travis McKindra; nephew Nadir Harper; uncles Wilmon Odell Talley, Dale Edward Talley (Nancy); aunts Barbara Ann James (Albert) and Belinda Joan Kittrell (Maynard); and a host of cousins, coworkers and friends.