Our beloved mother, Irma Bernice Leigh, 88, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her four daughters on March 30, 2020. Irma was born in Walton on June 6, 1931, to Hazel Leona Sutton Smith and Harold Amasa Smith. She is a graduate of Walton High School and attended business school in Syracuse. She has lived in Walton all of her life with exception of a two-year stint in Norfolk, Va., where her husband served in the Navy.
Irma is survived by daughters Cindy Leigh of Reston, Va., Teri Stratford of Walton, Dottie Leigh of DeLancey, Kathy Kerns and husband, Jim, of Naperville, Ill., and seven grandchildren: Chris Meadows, Matthew Stratford, Raymond Baldi, Kayla Leigh Donnelly, Kristine (Kerns) Norton, Cory Rahman and James Kerns II, one great-grandchild, Kathryn (Kate) Stratford, and 14 nieces and nephews.
She is predeceased by her husband of 58 years, Rudolph Leigh Jr. and her dearly loved older sisters, Glenon Matthiesen, Trudy Johnston, Reta Krause, Reva Fuschino, Dottie Shoytush and parents, Hazel and Harold Smith.
Before Mom succumbed to Alzheimer’s, her strong, Scottish-roots independence and caring personality was shown through her community service and faith-based activities and hobbies. Irma was brought up in a devout family who attended the United Presbyterian Church of Walton regularly. As an adult, she was deeply devoted to, and active in, the UP church for 30 years, including working as secretary and volunteering as treasurer for many of those years. She was also Clerk of Session and an Ordained Elder. Her great love was singing in the church choir, and her amazing soprano voice was singled out for many solos over the years. She sang with “Heaven’s Seven,” a women’s ensemble from the UP Church, who entertained, “all over the place.” Irma volunteered in the greater community as Treasurer of the Delaware County Christian Ministries Association, President of Delaware County Habitat for Humanity and Election Inspector. She and a friend even dabbled in a catering business, which lasted for about eight years.
Mom loved the outdoors, fresh air, planting flowers, vegetable gardening and keeping her bird feeders full. She loved animals and was never without her precious pets—dogs, cats, ponies, and even a baby skunk rescued, nurtured, and set free. She memorialized them all in a pet cemetery in the woods, nestled among the pine trees. Neighbors will remember her as a solitary white-haired figure walking her two miles daily along the road.
Our mother’s first priority and affection was for family. Raising four daughters with her husband working long hours as a Board of Water Supply police officer was a challenge well served by her independent spirit - we never wanted for support or unconditional love - no matter how much trouble we got into. Our most treasured memories of her and family as children were annual summer camping with our aunts and cousins, Smith family clambake reunions on Beers Brook Road, and watching her and sisters playing pinochle, laughing and joking for hours. She hand-made at least 70 quilts - some sold to raise money for a worthy cause - others custom designed for daughters, grandchildren and nieces. She crocheted formal white tablecloths for each grandchild as a wedding gift.
Words cannot describe the void she leaves in our lives. She will be dearly missed by friends and family.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, her family will not organize a funeral or memorial service at this time. Her cremation was handled by Courtney Funeral Home in Walton. Her burial is in the Walton Cemetery beside her husband and amongst her parents and sisters. Family and friends may express their sympathy by donating to the Alzheimer’s Association in her memory and/or post sentiments on the funeral home website at www.courtneyfh.com.