Obituaries & Tributes

Column: Honoring ‘beautiful and compassionate’ friend

PHOTO PROVIDED From left, Leona “Lee” Lyman, daughter Stacey, and Pat Edwards sharing time together. Pat was Stacey’s biological mother, and forged a relationship with Lee and Stacey over the years.

Jim and I lost a huge part of our lives two weeks ago when we were notified that Leona “Lee” Lyman had quietly passed at the age of 95. Lee entered our lives in the spring of 1993 and the story of our meeting and the strong ties that have bound us together ever since is longer than I can include here, but I want to honor this beautiful and compassionate woman regardless. Our story was recorded on the pages of the weekly Veneta paper, the West Lane News, on Sept. 2, 1993.

Jim and I were home that evening in the spring of 1993 when the telephone rang. I answered it. I didn’t recognize the feminine voice on the other end of the line, but she sounded cultured and kind. She said she was trying to reach Patricia Edwards. When I told her that was my name, she then asked me if I would confirm my middle and maiden names. Again, I told her she was correct, but I was puzzled. She then went on to explain …

She introduced herself as Lee Lyman. She lived in Eugene and told me that she and her first husband, Paul Sowers, had adopted a baby girl 30 years ago in Portland … in August of 1963. She also mentioned the name of the hospital. She asked if that held any meaning for me. I felt as though I had been hit by a train. I somehow knew that someday I might get this phone call, but only a few people besides Jim and me knew the story, and after 30 years, it was a huge shock. Our four children did not even know they had a half-sibling.

Lee and Paul named their baby girl, Stacey, and later adopted a son, Walt. When they were old enough, they told the kids about being adopted and assured them that they were chosen to be their own. When Stacey was 5, she told her mom that “I would like to see this lady that ‘borned’ me.” Her search, however, did not begin in earnest until after she was married, living in California, and had children of her own. By then, her adopted father, a former basketball player for the UO, had died and Lee eventually remarried. 

To quote from the news article, “Lee admitted that, early on, she had some misgivings about Stacey’s search for her birth mother. Eventually, she accepted that if the birth mother was found, she wouldn’t be losing a daughter, but sharing her.”  

That day, true to her word to help Stacey in her search, Lee was the one who was able to find us and bring us into her life as well as her daughter’s. We respected her well-earned position as Stacey’s mother and our families came together in one loving unit from that day forward. 

Oh! How we are going to miss Lee and her presence in our lives. She was a remarkable woman and Jim and I feel blessed that she was the one who loved and raised the baby I gave birth to so many years ago. We maintain a loving relationship with Stacey and her family and she is very close to her siblings. 

Thank you, Lee, for all that you gave by sharing Stacey with us. We love you so, and pray that you rest in peace.




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