Mystic - Jessie Virginia (Hartill) Leitner, 91, died peacefully and surrounded by her loving daughters, on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.
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Jessie was born July 27, 1921, in Maspeth, Long Island, N.Y., and was the eldest of six children born to Jefferson and Hetsel Hartill. She spent much of her childhood in New Jersey and later in Brunswick, Maine. After high school, Jessie attended nursing school in Flushing, N.Y.
Jessie married the love of her life, Gordon F. Leitner, on July 20, 1946, and they were happily wed for 65 years. Both rose to the rank of U.S. Army lieutenant during World War II. Jessie served as a nurse in England and France. She met Gordon when they were stationed in Marseille. They were later married in Chicago and raised their family in the "red barn" in Elm Grove, Wis., for 55 years. Jessie and Gordon also enjoyed homes in Boca Raton, Fla., for 30 years and in Mystic, for 14 years.
Very proud of her career as a nurse, Jessie worked at the Bath Ironworks before and after the war. After her marriage, she always had a train case of bandages and ointments to treat bumps and bruises, but turned her time and talents to being a full-time mom. Her family was the core of her life.
She contributed extensively to the Elm Grove community. With her beautiful voice, Jessie sang in the Elm Grove Community United Methodist Church choir for many years and served on the Elm Grove building board. She and Gordon served Habitat for Humanity in a building project in Iowa. Jessie also served as secretary of the Leland School PTA while Gordon was president.
She enjoyed numerous affiliations over her lifetime including membership in the Elm Grove Community United Church, Westmoor Country Club, Questers Antique Club, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Royal Palm Country Club, The Road Church in Stonington, and the Stonington Country Club. Jessie was a strong and natural athlete and enjoyed playing golf and tennis throughout her adult life. Jessie was proud of Gordon's work in water desalination and traveled with him around the world.
Jessie is lovingly remembered for her wit, radiant smile, beautiful, twinkly eyes and a great laugh. She loved the outdoors and gardening, and was happiest in the sunshine. She cherished family dinners and was especially good at planning family summer vacations. There was always an educational trip to places like Gettysburg, Niagara Falls, N.Y. World Fair, Williamsburg, Quebec, but the family always ended up in Maine for several weeks each summer. Here is where Jessie introduced them to the wonders of the Maine coast including boat trips to the islands, lobster cookouts and clam digging in the mud in Casco Bay. She thoroughly enjoyed building collections - antiques, rocks, shells, stamps, photograph albums and coins. Her family and friends will miss her greatly.
Jessie was predeceased by her husband; her parents; her sister, Mary; and brothers, Donald and Robert.
She is survived by her sister, Ruth; her brother, David; her daughters, Wendy Leitner, Penelope Lisi and Faith Leitner; her sons-in-law, Peter Lisi and Tim Murney; and granddaughters, Grace Murney, Isabelle Lisi and Hope Murney.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, at the Road Church, 903 Pequot Trail, Stonington. (http://1stcongregationalstonington.org/), with a reception immediately following at the Stonington Country Club, 396 Taugwonk Road. Cemetery services will be private.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Jessie's name to the Road Church, Stonington.
Funeral arrangements are coordinated through Mystic Funeral Home (www.mysticfuneralhome.com).
Published in The Day on Nov. 11, 2012