Tag Archives: Rita Leyden

Unsung Heroes #181

Peggy Leyden Holda writes from South Easton, Massachusetts:

My mother (Rita Leyden) and I read with great interest your recent Roundup. You reported that the Westport Young Women’s League has distributed more than $4 million in grants since 1956.

Just a few days prior, I had unearthed a gem while going through the boxes (and boxes and boxes) of memorabilia recently relocated from Westport to Massachusetts, after Mom sold her Bradley Street home of 40 years.

Rita Leyden

Mom typed a draft of her President’s Report on onion skin (which remarkably withstood the test of time) for publication in the League’s 1976-1977 Annual Report. It chronicles the contributions of an extraordinary group of leaders who measurably enriched the lives of their neighbors. Their names read like a Who’s Who of Westport’s great families.

Mom and her WYWL friends were role models for the 14-year-old I was at the time. Through them I learned that women can do just about anything they set their minds to … and have fun while doing it.

As then, so now: The Westport Young Women’s League is proof positive that “in the big things of life we are as one.”

Peggy is right. Her mother’s report lists phenomenal accomplishments of a group of women. There’s Geri Lawrence, Katie Chase, Ellie Hoyt, Ginny Koscomb, Pat Shea, Cathy Ryan and many more.

Some are still around Westport. Mimi Greenlee — who “printed over 47,000 pieces on our Gestetner mimeo machine” — nonetheless always kept smiling. She still does, now as one of the movers behind the new Westport Book Shop.

One page of Rita Leyden’s president’s report mentions Mimi Greenlee — and many other women.

Sue Kane and Joyce Barnhart are still involved too, after a lifetime of volunteerism. Marianne Harrison is retired in North Carolina, where she leads a very active life.

All of which reminds us of the work that the Westport Young Woman’s League — and many similar organizations do — is both important, ongoing, and builds on the shoulders of many who came before.

Today we honor all those civic volunteers who give their time. And we also recognize that they would not be here, doing what they do, without the Unsung Heroes of yesterday.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)