Leta Clayden died peacefully in her sleep on 11 September 2023 in the company of her family. She had been living at Windsor Court Retirement Residence in Fredericton for the past year and a half. Leta was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, on 21 December 1926 and grew up in nearby River Hebert. Her mother and father were Vera May (Wilson) and Dara Mason Cochrane, and she had a younger brother, Dara Jr. Dara Sr. was a country doctor and her mother Vera was a nurse. Her father was also involved in local forestry, coal-mining, and farming ventures, and in advocacy for the community’s schools. It made for a busy household, and Leta had a happy
She earned a B.Sc. at Dalhousie University in 1947, and a B.Ed. at Mount Allison University the following year, then taught school in Collingwood, Digby, and River Hebert. She met her husband Gerry when he came to River Hebert as a recent Dal med school graduate to work with her father. They were married in 1951, and soon after left for Montreal and Toronto, where Gerry pursued further training. Returning to the Maritimes with a growing family, they lived in and near Saint John for ten years before moving to Fredericton in 1964.
Leta was a loving and hard-working mother and wife, and she made many close friends. She had an easy and warm smile, keen curiosity, and sparkling eyes. She immersed herself in volunteering for community and provincial organizations in music and the arts. For nearly 30 years, she was also active in an inter-church committee of St. Paul’s, Wilmot, and Forest Hill United Churches that gave practical support to more than 200 refugee families from numerous countries. She was a skilled seamstress, quilter and, embroiderer, and much enjoyed her involvement with other fibre artists. She also loved the out-of-doors and walking. She and Gerry, who died in 2014, spent many summers in Alma and Fundy National Park.
She is survived by her five children and their spouses, Geoff (Suzanne), Stephen (Barbara), Peter Dara, John (Doris Anne), and Susan; grandchildren Meredith (Laurent), Miles (Amanda), Daniel (Jennifer), and Colin (Jennifer); Daniel’s and Colin’s mother Joanne; great-grandchildren Jacques, Antoine, and Patrick; niece Cathy (Rob) and nephew Bruce; and many cousins.
Her family is deeply grateful to the caring staff and her good friends at Windsor Court. Wendy Boulter was also a great help and friend to her. A few months ago, she received excellent care during a stay in the cardiology unit at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital. There will be no visitation. A memorial service at Forest Hill United Church is being planned for a date to be announced. For those who wish, donations in her memory may be made to a charity of their choice.