Tuttle was born as Leona Wilhelmina Sternberg on April 13, 1896, near the town of Bad Axe, Michigan. Her parents, Karl and Marie Amelia Sternberg, were both immigrants from Germany. She was one of seven children. Sternberg grew up on her parents' 40-acre (160,000 m2) farm and attended school in a one room schoolhouse.
Sternberg left at the age of 17. She took a train to Detroit in order to meet her sister. Once in Detroit, she worked as a housekeeper for architect Louis Kamper for two years. She later attended the Ferris Institute before taking a job with the Michigan Central Railroad department for several years. She was able to travel cross country through the free passes which she received through her employer.
Sternberg married her husband, Stanley Tuttle, in 1924. The continued to reside in Detroit for decades, but moved to Florida part-time following Stanley's retirement. Stanley Tuttle died in 1973. Leona Tuttle never remarried. After her husband's death, Tuttle lived with her grown daughters in the Detroit metropolitan area, New Jersey, Utah and Florida.
- Hicks, Mark (2007-12-08). "Leona Tuttle, Detroit Woman who loved to dance, travel dies at 111". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-01-14.