BRUNSWICK – Jane Leighton had a successful career as an X-ray technician at hospitals in central and midcoast Maine for more than 30 years.
In her spare time, she worked as a seamstress and operated Jane’s Tailor Shop from her home. She had a steady stream of customers, requesting everything from alterations to hand-made clothes. As of Sunday, there were six messages on her answering machine from customers wanting alterations.
Mrs. Leighton died Monday at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. She was 66.
Mrs. Leighton worked in health care for more than 30 years. She was an X-ray technician at Maine General Hospital in Waterville for most of her career. Around 1998, she joined the radiology department at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick. She retired in 2010.
Mrs. Leighton was also an accomplished seamstress. In the late 1970s, she started her alterations business.
Her son Steven Leighton of Webster, Mass., said her business grew steadily by word of mouth. He said local clothing stores would refer their customers to her for alterations.
“She had a loyal following,” her son said. “Even today, there are messages on her machine from people hoping she can (do alterations). She had limited hours and all she could do.”
Mrs. Leighton developed a strong work ethic at a young age. She grew up on a farm in Skowhegan, the second youngest of 10 children.
In 1967, she married David Leighton, who would be her husband for 31 years. The couple lived on Maranacook Lake in Winthrop, where they raised three sons.
Her son reminisced Monday about their years growing up on the lake. He said she was loving and creative and always kept them busy.
“She always found something for us to do,” he said. “There was always an adventure. We had a boat and a small island out there. There were woods where we would go hiking. She was really engaged.”
Mrs. Leighton was an active member of St. John the Baptist Church in Brunswick. There, she founded its Sew Blessed Ministry, a dozen or more women who meet and knit afghans, sew quilts and make clothes for premature babies.
She also founded the church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry.
Mrs. Leighton participated in two mission trips to Jamaica. On her first visit, she toured an orphanage that was lacking basic necessities. Soon after, she organized an event, which raised enough money to buy and ship 448 sets of sheets and 200 mattresses to the orphanage.
On the second trip, she distributed medical supplies, plus 200 toothbrushes, toothpaste and 99 dresses made by the ministry.
Mrs. Leighton considered her service work in Jamaica as one of the biggest accomplishments in her life, said her sister Rita Fortin of Benton.
“She felt that’s what God put her on this earth to do,” Fortin said. “She was an absolutely amazing woman.”
Mrs. Leighton had a close relationship with her four sisters. The women met from 7 to 9 p.m. every Sunday for more than 25 years. They sewed, made quilts and laughed. Once a year, they went on vacation together for a week. Two years ago, her sister Huguette Sullivan died.
Mrs. Leighton was diagnosed with acute leukemia less than three weeks ago.
“I’ll miss having her around,” Fortin said. “It’s like I’m loosing my arm. She was just a joy to be around.”
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: