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Leila Fiske Ostby


Leila Fiske Ostby, loved people, animals, trees and songs. She was born April 9, 1923, in Providence, RI, to the late Augustus and Esther (Bennett) Fiske. Leila was the youngest of five siblings in a remarkable family of inventors, artists and scientists. Hampton, Connecticut was her home for seventy years; she died peacefully of a stroke February 8, 2018.

From a young age, she possessed a twinkle in her eye and a generous smile, ready and waiting for all who showed up in her world. Noted for her tenacity and grit, she developed these qualities at an early age. Her mother died shortly after she was born; she was raised by her stepmother, Ruth Dudley Fiske and the rest of her family.

She overcame polio at age six. Her adolescence came during WWII, when she drove a Red Cross ambulance in Providence. She memorized the silhouettes of German aircraft, scanning the skies over Warren, Rhode Island for the Civil Air Patrol.

Leila studied metalsmithing at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her creativity was sparked by the materials at hand, bringing metal, stone and clay to life as a lifelong pursuit. Animals and nature were her favorite subjects.

One winter day, she was the only person bold enough to accept an invitation to go frostbiting: racing a small open sailboat. Seven months later, on October 4, 1947, she married the skipper of that craft, Raymond E. (Rad) Ostby, Jr. Together they fixed up an old farmhouse on a sunny slope they dubbed Popover Hill, in Hampton, Connecticut, where they raised three children and lived together for over fifty years.

In Hampton, she was a force of energy: she co-founded the kindergarten, the Historical Society, and the UNICEF drive; she was a Girl Scout leader, and she organized numerous community events. She worked to preserve our beautiful New England land and the animals that live in it. The Rad Ostby Forest, also her co-creation, memorializes her beloved husband and helps preserve a natural enclave in the woods of Hampton.

Leila was predeceased by her adoring husband of 52 years, Rad Ostby, her sister, Katherine (Kitty) Drury, and her brothers, Andrew, Gus, and Eben Fiske. She is survived by her family - Howard and Trudy Ostby of Milton-Freewater, Oregon; Edie Konesni, Annadeene, Tom, Eliot and Leila Fowler, and Bennett Konesni of Belfast, Maine; and Eben Ostby, Susan Brady, and Fiona Ostby of El Cerrito, California and Tokyo, Japan - as well as an endless list of family, friends, and admirers around the world.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 2 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 7 Providence Rd., Brooklyn, CT with a reception to follow at 4 p.m. at the Hampton Community Center.

The family has asked for friends and loved ones to bring memories and potluck. For an online memorial guestbook please visit


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