- Liselotte Leicht
As a child, she experienced the hardships of the Second World War. When Allied bombing attacks on German and Austrian cities forced thousands of civilians to flee to towns in the country, Liselotte’s parents and their neighbors opened their home to orphaned children and displaced families.
When the war ended, Liselotte was 13, and American troops were occupying Upper Austria. What a treat it was for her and her friends to walk up to the local train station where the U.S. soldiers had pitched their tents and chat them up, trying out the English they had learned at school. They were, of course, always rewarded with chocolates and bubble gum! Asked if she would like to go to America someday, Liselotte remembers responding, "I go to America when I am 20.”
And so it came to be. Liselotte met Otto H. Leicht, a refugee from Hungary, and at the age of 20, married him and started a new life with him in the United States. They first settled in the Hungarian enclave of New Brunswick, N.J., then bought a house in Fords, N.J., where they raised their four children: a daughter, Dietlinde, and three sons, Peter, Edgar and Christopher.
Liselotte always said she enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, like most women in her neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s. Her passion was childcare. When her own children were grown, she made new friends by babysitting for their children, too. Later, she spent time with her six grandchildren whenever she could.
After her beloved husband, Otto, died of cancer at the age of 66, Liselotte moved to Burlington, Vt., where her youngest son, Christopher, was already living with his family. She had been to Vermont before and loved it, because the mountains, lakes and climate reminded her of her native Austria. As a widow, she found a new home for herself at the Pines, a senior residence in South Burlington. There she enjoyed her independence, as well as the social life and safety the residence offered.
Liselotte continued her support of young people by mentoring at the Rick Marcotte Central School and participating in a program called Grand Friends, in which a Vermont college student could “adopt” a grandparent. For 25 years, she was also a member of the local German club.
Almost every summer, Liselotte visited her daughter, Dietlinde, in Austria, who was working there as a teacher. This gave her the opportunity to visit old friends, but she also often visited her other sons, Peter and Edgar, and their families in Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Liselotte will be remembered for her laid-back ways, her sense of humor, and her kindness and compassion for others. She was a born storyteller and loved telling her grandchildren about her youth and what she learned from it: to live modestly and mindfully and to respect others and the environment! Her hobbies were swimming, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and listening to classical music.
Liselotte is survived by her daughter, Dietlinde; her sons Peter (Eileen), Edgar (Jan) and Christopher (Donna); and her six grandchildren, Katherine, Adam, Ciara, Patrick, Derek and Melanie.
A celebration of life will be held for Liselotte at the Pines of South Burlington on Saturday, September 10, at 3:00 p.m. The family wishes to extend their heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Halle Sobel, Liselotte’s primary physician for many years, and the caring staff at the University of Vermont Home & Hospice.
For those wishing to do so, donations in her memory may go to the McClure Miller Respite House, 3113 Roosevelt Highway, Colchester, VT, 05446.