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Leela Aitcheson, 92, of Indian Point Road, passed away June 11, 2022, at home with her family by her side.
She was born in 1929 in Yonkers, NY, daughter of Lt. Col. (Ret.) Leland and Mrs. Christine Nestle. She graduated from Gorton High School in Yonkers, NY, and attended Greenbrier College for Women in Lewisburg, West Virginia, graduating in 1949. She continued her art education at Hunter College in New York City.
Leela married David H. Aitcheson in 1957, at the First Westminster Presbyterian Church in Yonkers, NY. David was part of the Young Adult Activities Committee and had seen her photo at her parents’ home during a meeting – he instantly knew he wanted to meet her. They met soon thereafter at a Young Adult Church function, and she knew right away he was ‘the one’ … the love of her life. As the saying goes the rest is history.
In the early 1950’s Leela worked in New York as a fashion model for Bergdorf Goodman, Bill Blass, and many others; she was recognized and valued in the industry for how she presented styles for fashion designers working in fashion and art until starting a family.
David and Leela moved to Northern New York in 1962; Leela focused on homemaking and raising their growing family together. As the children grew, she supported her husband and son with activities in the Boy Scouts of America; and then her daughters by starting Girl Scout troops beginning with Brownie Troops and going on up through the levels of Girl Scouts. She was always willing to be “Mom’s Taxi” for her children ensuring educational activities were accessible. She was a member of the Reformed Church of the 1000 Isles.
Once the kids were old enough Leela worked at several jobs in Alexandria Bay during the summer tourist season; eventually, she took a position as Ward Clerk for the Skilled Nursing Unit at what is now River Hospital working there for 17 years until her retirement.
While her husband was active in Rotary International Leela enjoyed attending many events with him throughout New York state and Canada making lifelong treasured friends along the way.
As a youngster, Leela’s grandmother (her Nana) would tell her she came from ‘Pioneer Stock’ but the full picture of the family history did not emerge until she had time to delve into the research after the children were grown. It was after doing the family history research that she became a member of the LeRay de Chaumont Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in Watertown, NY. Leela served the chapter and organization at many levels including: Registrar, Historian, Librarian, Vice Regent, and Regent (2008-2011); and, at the state level, she served as State Chair of Press Book, Co-Chair of the Prospective Member Database, and on the State Nominating Committee, among others. Her DAR involvement included attending many state conferences and national meetings with her daughters – events and times she truly cherished along with her treasured ‘DAR family.’
The family research led to involvement in the Society of Stukely Westcott Descendants in America – tracing lineage back to the founding of Rhode Island – meeting and connecting with cousins from across America and in the UK. Having traced back to the 1600’s led to her membership in the Mohawk Chapter of the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century. Most recently research led to finding the connection she’d been searching for with Mayflower ancestors.
She enjoyed taking care of her family and watching her children and grandchildren grow above all else, but she also enjoyed traveling – especially to Colonial Williamsburg and other areas with family history connections. Throughout her life she enjoyed doing artwork in watercolors, pastels, and stenciling to name a few mediums. Leela cherished living on the St. Lawrence River seeing the ships pass through and her hummingbirds at the feeder.
She is survived by her son, David, and his daughter Jennifer (William Farman III) and great-granddaughter Isabelle; and, her daughters, Elizabeth (Stephen Dreizler), and their sons James and Scott; Louise; Patricia (Stephen Spafford); and Jessie (Thomas Baumgartner), and their sons Jack and Satchel; as well as beloved nephews James, John, and Patrick. Her husband, David, and infant sons, Roger and Robert pre-deceased her.
Leela was passionate about many things, but most importantly about family history and historic preservation. She was always at the ready when called upon by the NSDAR President General for assistance, supporting several different projects with seven DAR administrations over 22 years. She also was a supporter of Colonial Williamsburg and the River Hospital.
The family appreciates the care and compassion Dr. Aaron Huizenga provided Leela over the years, along with the dedication of the staff at the Samaritan Family Health Center – Clayton.
Calling hours will be Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 3-6pm, with a DAR Memorial Service at 5:45pm followed by a Celebration of Life at 6pm with Rev. Jeff McIlrath of The Reformed Church of the 1000 Isles officiating. All services will be at the Costello Funeral Service, 113 Church Street, Alexandria Bay, NY 13607. Private interment will be at the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Leela’s memory to:
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution where funds will benefit the DAR General Fund and the Friends of DAR Schools Fund equally. https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/DARMEMORIAL/LeelaAitcheson1 or,
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
River Hospital https://www.riverhospital.org/support/make-a-gift
Please note gift is in her memory.
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
3:00 - 6:00pm (Eastern time)
Costello Funeral Home
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