Several people have expressed an interest in making a donation in Elizabeth's name. The family has asked that donations be made in memory of Elizabeth Leigh to the Cathedral of St. Luke's Restoration Fund. Please contact Ms. Sarah Simpson at email@example.com
Our dear friend Elizabeth Leigh passed away this morning around 7:00 a.m. She had been in intensive care at Clínica Paitilla for the past few weeks, battling dengue, pneumonia, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. It seems that her heart was weakened by the many infections. Still, her passing was a shock to all of us who know her and love her.
We met Lizzie and Bert our second evening in Panama when we attended services at St. Simon's Church in Gamboa, where I was going to be serving for the next four months. Lizzie immediately invited us for dinner that evening, but we were unable to do so. However, every time we were at St. Simon's from that day forward, we had a standing invitation to dinner and drinks with Lizzie and Bert. They became dear friends and members of our extended family and we always spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years' Day together. Lizzie worked with the British Aid Society and was active in several churches and religious groups here in Panama, including the Cathedral of St. Luke, Balboa Union Church, and of course, her home parish, St. Simon's. She sang in many choirs and choral groups and was involved in every important concert held on the isthmus. She was always moving, going from one event to another and another in a single day; I used to get exhausted just listening to her itinerary! She worked with many indigenous groups here in Panama and served as a middle person for the sale of baskets and molas and all manner of native handicrafts and art. She sponsored classes in basket weaving at her Gamboa home. She loved all the animals on the planet and kept many of them at her home. She also loved nature in general. Anytime we would ask her what kind of plant we were looking at she would tell us the scientific name, so we'd always ask her what everyone else called it. She was also a major peace advocate and justice advocate and all the bumper stickers on her car made it look like she had driven all the way from Santa Cruz, California! In my mind she was la Reina de Isla Barro Colorado, where the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute is located. She loved taking us on walks through the Tropical Forest.
But most of all she was a dear, dear friend. I will always remember the time Lizzie, Mona and I drove to Changinola for the Diocesan Convention. It was a nine-hour drive, but we stretched it out by staying in Chiriqui at Finca Suiza, way up in the hills. We had great conversations all the way there and all the way home. We were stopped for speeding just outside of Anton, and the Transito kept telling us that he was sorry but the radar had picked us off and so he had to write us a ticket. We were trying to communicate with our pidgin español and Lizzie rolled down the car window and started explaining that I was a priest and we were returning from a church convention. The second time I heard the cop say "I wish I could help you" I realized he was fishing for a bribe. Lizzie kept talking, and when he asked how I could be married and a priest, she started explaining Anglicanism to the cop. He was getting exasperated, still saying "I wish I could help you" and trying to get his lunch money and Mona and I were saying "No, we were wrong for speeding. We don't want you to get in trouble. Just give us the ticket." He finally gave up and sent us on our way with out a ticket
Lizzie will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her. We are all very sad but we also know that she is with the Lord now and experiencing a light so clear and a love so profound that we can't even comprehend it, so we rejoice for her. Please keep Egbert, Mary, John and Laura your prayers at this difficult time.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Elizabeth. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.
May her soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.