Leslie Susan Ochs-Karnahan

Leslie Susan Ochs-Karnahan passed away on March 4th, 2024, at 4:44 pm at her home with her partner Craig at her side. Leslie was born on May 19th, 1964, in Great Bend, Kansas. She lived a life of travel raised by her mother at home and a father who was in the Navy. She began life in Great Bend Kansas and soon moved to Oak Harbor Washington and a few other state side places. They eventually were stationed across the sea to Guam, Yokosuka and Okinawa, Japan where she graduated as a Kubasaki High School Dragon. She attended WSU for a year, and then the University of Kansas where she studied English Literature for three years. In her early adulthood, she moved to Chicago, Seattle and later to Austin, before returning to Lawrence, Kansas.

In 1997 Leslie married Todd Michael Karnahan. Together they started American Greaser Supply, the Punk Rods car club and the Kowtown Kustoms Greaserama where she perfected the art of shirt folding and merchandise sales. They eventually moved to the Kansas City, Kansas area, where thanks to lack of public transportation, Leslie learned to drive but rarely on the highway. Leslie always had an eye for display and organization which became an asset at her time as a stylist assistant at Hallmark. When Todd passed away in 2012, Leslie’s world shrank to her front porch.

A year later a gentleman caller, Craig, a former boyfriend from college, was able to bring joy and love back to her life. Together they started a victory garden, camped in Moab, Taos, Colorado, Arkansas and Missouri as well as trips to Padre Island Texas national seashore’s, New Orleans and the mountains and seashores of North Carolina. She became a world traveler again when Craig showed her Scotland, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland. They would make batches of Limoncino and Nocino infused liqueurs, which if you were lucky to receive, you would know not only was it delicious but very potent. Leslie was a passionate lover of animals, art, novels, poetry and literature, vintage 40’s and 50’s fashion and design and also modern Japanese trends. She was a vegetarian with an all-natural holistic food and lifestyle tendencies, taking interests in gardening, camping and being outdoors with nature, travel and possibly above all else a “good piece of cake.”

This is evident when reviewing her Instagram account that is filled with pictures of her baking masterpieces, friend’s pets and just items she thought were interesting. She had a baked goods booth at the Kansas City Kansas Farmers Market where she sold delicate rose water tea cookies and would often make Swedish Sourdough Twists for Craig’s father. Leslie was the greatest listener and a fierce friend. She would often be a therapist for friends by spending hours on the phone, being compassionate over text or if you were lucky enough, a personal session over a campfire in her backyard.

All the world’s problems were often solved in that backyard from women’s rights, LGBTQ, politics, love and how lawns should be clover instead of grass. This extended beyond her friends. Leslie would make friends in any situation whether it be her favorite cashier at the grocery store, random conversations while waiting to vote, the daughters of the other vendors at the farmer’s market or even her favorite nurses at the hospital. Her soul is so beautiful and kind that it shines through her body in her smile, her eyes and her laughter.

Leslie Susan Ochs Karnahan is preceded in death by her grandfather Constine Anthony Ochs and her grandmother, Marie Josephine Riedel. Her father, Carol Joseph Ochs and her husband Todd Michael Karnahan

She is survived by her mother Margaret Elaine Aldrich, her brother Cody Joseph Ochs, and Craig Van Gorp her partner of 10 years. Also, her Aunt & Uncle, Susan and Robert Engelhart, and cousins Andy Funk and Diem Tran, and AJ McDowell and Chris Berrey.

From Craig-

I would just like to say that I am short on words to describe Leslie Susan in a light that would do her beautiful, sweet and tender soul justice in my time of grief. Many of you who knew her in the various phases of her life knew that this quality of hers was ever constant and unchanging. I am ever so blessed and thankful for the 10 years that the Fates allowed us to reignite and ultimately live a love that sparked and glowed first back in October 1986. In this last decade there were probably fewer than a month of days that we were separated from one another’s side. I am forever changed and enriched for having known and been loved by her.

Many of you often wonder in times like these “how you can help?” or “what can I do to that would honor Leslie’s Memory? “

My answer is, do as she would. Give a smile and a kind word or compliment to a random stranger almost every day. Engage with people. Listen to what they have to say more attentively while looking them in the eye. Be kind to animals. Plant something that can feed someone. Pay it forward if you can. Be grateful for the time that you have in this miracle of a world we live in.

In a couple of months, I hope to organize a celebration of life. It will be a casual backyard/orchard/fireside/potluck type affair. Announcements will be made through this page and other various medias, in hopefully, approximately 2 months’ time.

Lastly, I would just like to thank all of you, her friends and family, for your love and support through the trying times of this last year. And especially all the various nurses and doctors with whom we’ve crossed paths and have helped relieve so much pain and burden. Thank you also to Crossroads Palliative and Hospice care team for their caring professionalism.

May Leslie be at peace now and grace us with her eternal love.

She is missed.


  1. Tina Lawrence on March 20, 2024 at 9:26 am

    What a beautiful testament to a beautiful human being. My heart is heavy for the beauty this world has lost and the void left in all those that love Leslie. She was truly a special woman, so passionate. I always so respected how she didn’t just do lip service to the beliefs she held, but actually walked the walk and lived her life true to herself and her beliefs. She is an irreplaceable soul.

  2. Tiffany Hughes on March 20, 2024 at 11:47 am

    I’m so sorry to hear of Leslie’s passing. She was light and love, through and through. Her memory is a blessing.

  3. Beppe on March 20, 2024 at 12:17 pm

    È difficile trovare parole che possano in qualche modo essere di ristoro per una perdita così importante, forse non esistono.
    Seduta in quel tavolino che conosciamo solo in pochi, al sole di un Settembre che volge alla fine, con i profumi della vendemmia e del vino nuovo, è l’immagine perfetta di un sentimento profondo
    Mi mancherà…

  4. Franz on March 20, 2024 at 2:05 pm

    Ciao Craig, ho conosciuto Leslie un po’ di più grazie a questo scritto e alle tue parole tenere e forti. Sei spesso nei miei pensieri e ti ricordo sempre come artista e come amico. Ti abbraccio tanto, Franz

  5. Magellan on March 20, 2024 at 9:04 pm

    My heart! Such love. I found a youtuber who looks and sounds like my Leslie and I watch for the comfort. I get so teary snd emotional at thrift stores as I imagine what she would say. I actually hear her voice. Thank you for being such a hero to her. I send my sincerest condolences to Margaret. Big hugs!

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