Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Judith A. (DuPont) Gignac-Leininger
March 21, 1939 – December 14, 2023
Judy Gignac-Leininger, 84, passed away on December 14, 2023 after a short but brave battle with cancer. Judy was deeply loved and well respected. She was a selfless inspiration to her family, friends and her community, and will be deeply missed.
Born the eldest daughter of Durward and Gertrude DuPont on March 21, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan, she was fiercely independent and sweetly shy with an insatiable appetite for books. The family moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL when Judy was in high school and at 20 she left the family home, set out on a quest with a friend, and found a new life in Colorado Springs, CO. There, she studied at Broward College of Business and began work as a data processor for Kettelle and later for the RCA Ballistic Missile Early Warning System at NORAD. In 1964 she met and married her first husband, an airman, Paul Ross Gignac and began a family. Judy continued working while Paul, now honorably discharged from the US Air Force, completed his degree. Their first child, Beth, was born in 1965.
1970 brought a new adventure and the family moved to Sierra Vista, AZ. Their second child, son Christopher, was born soon after in 1971. She took coursework at Cochise College and became increasingly fascinated with politics.
Judy’s penchant for business, civic duty and service flourished. A bright and impressive future in public service had begun and slowly she overcame her shyness. She found her voice. And boy did she! She began working with candidates seeking various city and county elected offices and later with state and national seats as well. By 1977 she had decided to seek office and became the first woman to campaign and win a seat on the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. Judy was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1980 and worked tirelessly on the Republican platform. In 1988 she stepped out of public service and served as Vice President and General Manager of Bella Vista Water and Bella Vista Ranches where she continued in that position for 22 years. During her career, she served in leadership positions with a dizzying spread of businesses, organizations, and governing entities. Notable mentions include cofounder of the Thunder Mountain Republican Women, the Upper San Pedro Partnership, the Legacy Foundation of Southeastern Arizona, the Sierra Vista Industrial Development Commission, a founding member of the Fort Huachuca Fifty, the Arizona Utilities Investor’s Association, the Water Utilities Association of Arizona, the Organization of U.S. Border Cities and Counties, the Sierra Vista Board of Adjustment, numerous bank boards, the Arizona Town Hall, the Board of Directors for University Medical Center, the Arizona Community Colleges Association, and was appointed by then Arizona Governor, Fife Symington, to the Arizona Board of Regents, and played a foundational role in the inception of the University of Arizona South.
Throughout her long term of service to Cochise County, Judy received many awards, including the 1977 Lady of the Year by Beta Sigma Phi, 1988 Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1994 Woman of the Year by the Cochise County Republican committee, the 1995 DeConcini Award from the Fort Huachuca 50, the 2000 Vision Award by the Commission on the Status of Women, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Arizona in 2004. Despite her success without a formal degree, she consistently urged others to get their post-secondary education.
In 2009, Judy retired from her position at Bella Vista Ranches but continued civic duties as an arbiter for the Cochise County Justice Courts Alternative Dispute Resolution Program, was a member of the Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration Committee, and the Sierra Vista Herald Readers’ Advisory Board. She enjoyed reading and writing, and spending time with family and friends.
After her first marriage, Judy found her soulmate in Oliver (O.O.) Leininger. They married in 1988 and were devoted to each other. Ollie was her number one fan and they cared deeply for one another.
Judy was preceded in death by her parents Durward and Gertrude, loving husband, Ollie, and her granddaughter, Mallory Hooper. She is survived by her adored sister, Linda (Hancock) of Sanford, FL; daughter, Beth Hooper (Bill) of Sierra Vista; son, Christopher Gignac (Geri) of Chandler, AZ; grandchildren Justin Conner (Juliet) of Phoenix, AZ; Cassie Conner of Sierra Vista, AZ; Chad Gignac, and Alaina Gignac of Chandler, AZ; and 5 great grandchildren.
The family would like to extend much gratitude and love to all those that cared for Judy during her time in hospice. Many thanks to Casa de La Paz.
There will be a Celebration of Life on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, at 11:00am at The University of Arizona South, Sierra Vista Campus, in the Community Room. She will be interred with her late husband in a private, family ceremony at the Southern Arizona Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista, Arizona. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the University South Foundation.