To the Editor:

I know I’m not alone in feeling an ache in my heart left by the passing of one of Bethel’s most unique and understated good samaritans, Kathy Westleigh. Just a couple of weeks ago I was rereading the article written about her that I’d saved from the Bethel Citizen, thinking I should submit it to WCSH’s “6 Who Care”, as to me, Kathy demonstrated the qualities of caring recognized with that award. Unfortunately, the next week she died, creating a void where there once was her irreplaceable, unique presence.

Although Kathy was certainly no stranger to hard times, she continually managed to not only pick herself up and keep going, but to also help others along the way. I’m not implying the woman should be elevated to sainthood and she’d be the first to discourage anyone from thinking so. Yet, there were countless behind the scenes circumstances where she was definitely a savior, and there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that she immediately “got her wings”!

Throughout the 4 decades I knew her, one of the many things I loved about her is that she pulled no punches…one knew exactly where they stood with Kathy. There was nothing “two faced” about her. She could be bluntly honest about her feelings and opinions, and if she had an issue with someone, she’d let them know. At the same time, however, she could be open, understanding, and forgiving, allowing others a chance to redeem themselves for whatever they may have done that didn’t set right with her.

Kathy also had an tremendous love for her family and her friends and went to endless lengths to assure them of that.  She was an ultimate “giver”. She gave of her time, she gave of her heart, she gave whatever she could acquire that someone else might need, she shared the results of her great skill and creativity as a seamstress, she shared her sense of humor, she shared her delicious baked goods and meals, and she shared her determined “spirit”. And the tenacity with which she continually battled various health issues throughout the years was admirable beyond description…she was a warrior.  What a legacy to leave to those who knew her…may we always honor that.

I will forever miss her sweet smile, her animated facial expressions, her always welcoming “Hi Dear!”.  I will always remember how she so loved her Christmas decorations, and how she could transform even a small space into a banquet hall when serving her scrumptious holiday meals to countless people, while still also giving care packages of her delicious efforts to others not sitting at her tables.

Ironically, as I write this, it is December 11, the day that here is Bethel there will be no more single use plastic bags given out in local stores.  I feel very thankful to have a stockpile of “Kathy Westleigh Bags”, that will last me maybe forever and always make me think of her in our grocery store where our carts so often crossed paths.

Those who knew her all have their own stories. In mine, Kathy Westleigh was a priceless soul and will be remembered and missed by so many, always.

May you truly “rest in peace”, our friend.

Jewel Clark

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