An Appreciation: Patricia Newsome Leiby

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

Patricia Leiby ~ Image (c) 2009 all rights reserved

Editor’s Note: Patricia Leiby died in Bedford on January 19, 2019. A memorial service to celebrate her life will take place in the sanctuary of Bedford’s historic meeting house, First Parish Unitarian Universalist, on Bedford Common, at 2 pm on Saturday, March 30.

Living in Bedford’s oldest homestead, settled in 1671, Patricia Newsome Leiby maintained an abiding interest in town history, serving at various times on the boards of the Friends of the Job Lane house and the Bedford Historical Society. “Pat contributed a great deal to Bedford’s historical organizations over many years,” said Bedford Historical Society president Don Corey. “At the time of her death, she was still serving as a Director with the Friends of Job Lane House and as the Historical Society’s Treasurer.”

But she was ever so much more than a history aficionado: A salt-of-the-earth New Englander, Pat relished Friday afternoon jaunts to Boston for symphony concerts as well as time spent quietly with family, Down East in Maine.

Former Town Moderator Betsey Anderson saw Pat Leiby as “a dear friend and a mentor, deeply committed and involved in local government in the Town of Bedford.” 

She was active in the League of Women Voters and served as its president from 1972 to 1974.  During that period, the Bedford Charter Commission was drafting its Charter and she followed that process closely, enabling the League to study and support it.  She served on several Charter Review committees in subsequent years.

Pat was a twenty-two-year member of the Finance Committee beginning in 1976 and she served as chairman of the Finance Committee several times.  “We served together for 7 years,” said Anderson. “In those days, the Finance Committee assisted in the preparation of the Warrant and Pat spent many hours at the Town Hall doing that work.  Her knowledge and dedication to doing what was best for the Town were matched by very few people.”

As Moderator, Anderson appointed Pat to the Petitioners’ Advisory Committee where she served until the time of her death. “Her experience and wisdom, especially relating to Town Meeting,” Anderson added, “were very helpful to those wishing to submit a petition to be placed on the Warrant.”

Paul Leiby was his mother’s campaign manager when she ran for State Representative in 1977. “The district included all of Bedford and parts of Lexington and Billerica. It was a special election to fill the seat vacated when Carol Amick became State Senator,” Leiby recalled. “Running on a program of judicial reform, energy conservation (it was 1977 after all!), and fiscal fitness (a reconsideration of state and local tax structures), Mom walked nearly every street in the district to meet voters, often with one or more of her sons in tow.

“She won the Democratic nomination in the primary,” Leiby continued, “but ultimately, did not prevail in a closely-fought general election. Nonetheless, she remained dedicated to working for community social justice and sound fiscal management throughout her life. And she always had a special liking for the t-shirt that said A woman’s place is in the house – and in the Senate!

First Parish Senior Minister John Gibbons recalled Pat as a devotee of the UU Ferry Beach Camp and Conference Center and a two-time pilgrim to First Parish’s partner church in Transylvania. “She saw that her sons and grandchildren also visited,” Rev. Gibbons said, “and despite adversity, Pat hiked up the mountain at Déva to visit a shrine of religious freedom.  Fiercely independent, if she thought you were cutting her slack due to age or infirmity, she would irascibly reject any such condescension.  She could be tart and she could grin impishly.  She was book smart, with a graduate degree in literature, and she was a faithful reader of the Quoddy Tides of Eastport, ME where there is a Leiby Family home.”
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