Leilea was born on March 16, 1982, in Crossville Tennessee. Growing up, she enjoyed being a member of the marching band, playing baritone sax in jazz band on spring afternoons, and spending endless summer days at the lake. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee. Leilea went on to earn a master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner from Vanderbilt University before practicing in several states.
A loving mother, caring wife, devoted daughter, loyal sister, responsible nurse, and friend to so many – she continually poured herself into those closest to her.
Independent, sassy, fiercely loyal, kind, generous, an adept listener and conversationalist. Thoughtful gifter. Strong – so strong in the truly hard moments. Lover of family, our dogs, watching little league baseball and softball, Disney adventures with the kids, fascinating destinations, ski trips, Red Sox postseasons, macaroons, Italian red wines, movie popcorn, crisp hotel sheets, Taylor Swift, Hamilton, relaxing by beaches and pools, and especially pools by beaches. She would never say no to a hot cup of coffee or a fresh Diet Coke.
Despite cancer, she never missed an opportunity to show her kids how much they are loved. She carried the burden of her illness without complaint, always focusing on others and choosing joy. She chronicled her life using the slogan: “So we keep walking.” To quote Leilea directly: “I heard once that we can hold our grief in one hand and beckon gratitude with the other. And that is 100% what it’s like to be a person living with cancer. We have this tremendous grief that we carry, while also, being thankful for all the things we have. And…while I am not thankful for cancer, I’ll say that I laugh harder, love harder, and am unapologetically who I am because of it.”
Leilea taught us to be brave and that we can do hard things. We will always cherish her quick-witted humor, delicious chocolate cakes, scrumptious chicken pot pies, beautiful quilts, getting the family out of the house to do something amazing, the stability she brought to countless military moves, her love of music, and her beautiful smile.
Leilea died peacefully at home on January 27th, 2022, after 6 years with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Leilea is lovingly remembered by her children, Olive and Everett, her husband, Kiel, her parents, Dr. Mohammad Koucheki and Rebecca Koucheki, and her sisters, Cassidy Koucheki Sellick and Cameron Motta Koucheki. Leilea was predeceased by the grandparents whom she adored: Ayako Ebihara Owens, Everett Almarine Owens, Shahzadeh Kargar and Ghazanfar Koucheki.
Instead of flowers, gifts, or presents, please consider donating to research – such as STAAR Ovarian Cancer Foundation – to find better treatments for people with low-grade serous carcinoma so they can have more time with their loved ones.