Dr. Peter A. Leighton

BRIDGTON – Dr. Peter A. Leighton, 48, beloved husband, father, son, brother, uncle and physician, passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 29, 2021 in the arms of his loving wife and children at the Androscoggin Home Health Care and Hospice in Auburn, Maine. He died after a courageous battle with a recurrent brain tumor (May 2020), first diagnosed in 2003.

Peter was born on Feb. 9, 1973, in Portland, Maine to Pamela and David Leighton, then of East Sebago. Peter graduated from Lake Region High School (1991) where he was on the debate team and served as class president. After high school, he served in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman attached with a Marine Corps Reserve rifle company. He received a letter of commendation from the United States Navy while assigned for “demonstrating exceptional ability, initiative, and devotion to duty” and also graduated with the highest scholastic average in his class. He was given a letter of commendation from the US Marine Corps for “superior performance of his duties” and received honorable discharge in 1999. He graduated from the University of Southern Maine Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Biology in 1996. Peter went on to graduate from the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine in 2003 and was recognized with the Doctor Lamb Award ‘for concern and care for the total patient’. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Maine Medical Center in 2006. From 2007 to 2013 he worked as a hospitalist at Central Maine Medical Center. He returned home to the Lakes Region in 2013 to practice primary care and received the Dr. Larry Hopperstead Award in 2017, in recognition of excellence in patient care. He was passionate about treating patients who struggled with addiction and he became double board certified in addiction medicine in 2020.

Peter donated much of his time and leadership to community service. He was active both locally and at the state level. He volunteered for the Walk with a Doc program, allowing patients access to meet with him outside of the hospital setting. He advocated for state of the art medical care for persons affected by opiate use disorder and co-founded the Lakes Region Substance Awareness Coalition (501c3) where he served as President. This endeavor led to the opening of the Lakes Region Recovery Center where he would later serve as a medical advisor, and also served as medical director at Crooked River Counseling. Peter was a gifted speaker who took pride in giving numerous talks, presentations and interviews to many groups and forums, including NPR on his MAT practice across Maine. In 2021, he was awarded the Peter Leighton, MD Award for “Outstanding commitment to community service”. Peter’s philanthropy continued after his death, donating his brain to research at the DFCI/BWH/BCH Division of Neuropathology Brain Donation Program.

Peter was an avid spiritual seeker even from a young age. He read numerous books on religion and attended retreats and monasteries. Peter’s moral grounding was his daily meditation practice and spiritual readings; he was a friend of Bill W. He and his family attended the Unity Church of Greater Portland. As a student, he was the class clown and loved to make people laugh. He looked up to his older brother Eric who would be a lifelong teacher of the love of the Maine woods, seeking adventures in any body of water especially sailing handmade boats in the brooks and streams around Naples, or “surfing the rocks” along the rivers of New Hampshire, and climbing Mt. Katahdin together; learning how to navigate in the wilderness which was their metaphor for life.

Peter met his soulmate, Kimberly, in 2012 and they moved their family to Bridgton in 2013. They had a busy home, taking care of their five children and many pets. Peter and Kim met on a blind date and they joked about how he told her he was falling in love with her that same night. He said “He just knew.” Peter labeled coffee “a gift from the Gods” and he enjoyed waking up to a hot cup of coffee and spending time on the front porch, watching the birds. Peter and Kim would often be seen on their daily walks along the beautiful roads near their Bridgton home. They also worked alongside each other at the coalition where she served as secretary. They loved to open their home for family gatherings and also hosted Peter’s office Christmas party for many years.

The most important role that he played was “father” to his children. He took pride in teaching them life lessons and had many sayings such as “measure twice, cut once”. He often called them his “master teachers.” Peter loved family traditions. Some of these were going apple picking and making a homemade apple pie, tapping his trees and making homemade maple syrup, attending the Fryeburg fair – eating fair food and winning the kids stuffed animals, cutting down the family Christmas tree, and frosting birthday cakes. He loved spending time on his boat and taking the kids tubing on Long Lake. Although he was a busy doctor, he always made time to go to school meetings and sporting events. He adored the father and daughter dances with his four daughters over the years. Peter was an animal lover and oftentimes you would find him with a cat curled up around his neck or a dog in his lap. He enjoyed running, especially in subzero temperatures during Maine winters and loved snowmobiling. He loved to fly-fish the Cupsuptic River and has fond memories of fishing with his grandfather. He was a lifelong skier and valued the time with his children as they rode the chair lift to the top of the mountain. He also loved weightlifting and thought it was important to model living a healthy lifestyle to his patients and children.

He is survived by his wife Kimberly, and children Sophia and Nadia Leighton and Reiyn, Wildr, and Aurora Hart; his brother Eric and his wife Stacey of Coto de Caza, Calif., his brother-in-law Danny Louten and his wife Tamothy of Portland, sister-in-law Krystal Malinovskii and her husband Yegor of Falmouth; and several nieces and nephews, Mariah, Paige, Leo, River, Landon, Kingston, Beckham, and Elle; his mother Pamela of Bridgton, parents-in-law Linda and Bill Dionne, Daniel and Diane Louten, both of Port Charlotte, Fla.; former spouse Natasha Leighton of Poland, and former in-laws James Meikle and Linda Hall. Peter was predeceased by his father, David (2019).

A celebration of life service will be held at Bridgton Academy on August 21, 2021 at 9:00 am. An annual “Walk in Remembrance” for Dr. Peter Leighton will be held on Sept. 18 at 10:00 a.m. starting at Crooked River Counseling in Bridgton.

Arrangements are in the care of Hall Funeral Home in Casco where online condolences may be shared at http://www.hallfuneralhome.net.

Memorial contributions in Dr. Leighton’s honor can be made to the Lakes Region Recovery Center, the Peter Leighton, MD Fund for Community Excellence at Bridgton Hospital, or to the family’s gofundme page https://gofund.me/40c17bbb

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