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about Elly

Debbie Leighton, obit

Deborah Boies Leighton passed away on August 14, 2021, at the age of 97. Even at the end of her life, she was active and enjoyed spending time at the place she loved most, the family cabin in Brightwater, Phippsburg, where she had spent every summer since 1928. Although she could no longer sail, she enjoyed watching the coming and going of boats on the New Meadows River and watching her family sail the Shearwater, her Cape Dory Typhoon. Well into her 90s, she could be seen at the helm of the Shearwater or swimming in the cold New Meadows in her signature swim cap and flippers (you would be forgiven for mistaking her for a seal). Debbie touched many people with her passion for social justice. What she loved most was community - be it her Brightwater community, the Feminist Spiritual Community, The Neighborhood UCC, or Peaceworks in Brunswick. Encouraging young and old to understand each other and work in fellowship was Debbie's way of making a better world.

Debbie was born in New York City on Feb.22, 1924, the daughter of Bessie and Tom Cotton, and she attended Mount Holyoke College. She married Perley Leighton and raised three children in Connecticut while working for the League of Women Voters, earning a master's degree in social work, and then becoming Director of Children and Youth Services for the State of Connecticut. . She returned to Maine to work for the State in programs such as Displaced Homemakers, helping to create opportunities for women returning to the workforce. She met Eleanor "Elly" Haney and they formed a loving partnership for 15 years, until Elly's death in 1999. For the last 25 years, she lived in West Bath, while spending her summers at Brightwater.

In her retirement, Debbie became a full-time activist and "raging granny." She went on peace exchanges to Colombia, El Salvador and Russia. She stood with Brunswick peace activists every Friday for years and protested the WTO in Seattle and Quebec. She is survived by her son, Geoffrey and daughter-in-law Anita Clearfield, her daughter, Elizabeth and son-in-law Rick Worrell; and her grandchildren Shelby, Ryan and Alasdair. Her daughter Victoria passed away in 2008. The Fund, in keeping with Elly and Debbie's shared vision, supports faith-based and other forms of social action to increase social, economic, cultural and ecological justice.

In its board, volunteers and grant recipients, the Haney-Leighton Fund does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, marital and relational status, veteran status, mental or physical disability, or any other status prohibited by applicable federal and/or state law.