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Jane Leighton

1919 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Jane Leighton Obituary
Jane Gillett Leighton, 98, died peacefully on January 13, 2018. She was predeceased by her husband of 61 years, Joel B. Leighton. Jane inspired those who knew her, with her zest for life, passion for social justice, community involvement, and intellectual curiosity. She was born November 4, 1919, in Los Angeles, to Florence M. and Samuel A. Gillett three days after California ratified the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. She proudly exercised that right her entire life. She moved to Boston as a young child and then to Washington, D. C. during high school. In 1941 she graduated from the Womens College of the University of North Carolina, Phi Beta Kappa, with a degree in Economics. While at college she met Joel at an Economics and the Labor Movement conference. After their marriage in 1941, she assisted Joel (who worked for the Textile Workers Union) organizing unions in Virginia and North Carolina. During this time they were invited to a small luncheon at the White House by Eleanor Roosevelt, who became a life-long role model. Within weeks of moving to Newton in 1953, Jane joined the League of Women Voters of Newton. Over the years she held many positions, including President. The League remained a passion of hers right up to her death. In 1980 she was honored to be the first recipient of The Jane Leighton Award, given by the LWVN to a member who shares her qualities of service with humor and goodwill, and dedication to the local community through involvement. For more than 20 years she was actively involved in the Newton Girl Scouts. As a troop leader her special interest was camping, including winter Polar Bear events. She was a long-time member of The Eliot Church of Newton, particularly focusing on their social justice activities. And Jane was a gourmet cook who dropped the Beef Wellington on the floor at more than one dinner party, and yet bravely kept it on her menu list. In retirement, Jane and Joel travelled widely, as well as sailing from their usual haunts on the coast of Maine down to the Bahamas where she loved to scuba dive. Jane is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Allison and Philip Jim Stoner and granddaughter Jennifer Stoner, of Newton, and grandson Andrew Stoner and his fianc, Erika Lawless, of Milford. She is also survived by her daughter, Katherine, of Saco, Maine, and granddaughters, Christine Brown, of Portland and Madeline Auclair, of Saco. There will be a celebration of her life at Eliot Church of Newton, on Saturday, April 28th, at 2:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the League of Women Voters of Newton at: Treasurer, LWVN, P. O. Box 610207, Newton, MA 02461.
Published in The Newton Tab from Apr. 14 to Apr. 25, 2018
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