Beloved Neighbor Gone Too Soon
Special to the Observer By: Lisa Marie Desai, neighbor and friend
October 29, 2015
Leah Nico of Carlson Park, passed away unexpectedly on October 1. She was 37. Leah was well-known and loved as a people connector and community-builder in Culver City. She is missed by her husband, Dave; her mother, Linda; and four children: Dagny, 11; Tavish, 7; Chauncey, 4; and Forrest, 9 months.
The community will gather to celebrate her life on Sunday, October 18t 3 p.m. at Skyview Terrace at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park. All are welcome. Please RSVP online to view a map and receive updates and details: http://evite.me/Yxk7KsEXwT
According to her husband, Dave Hatch, "Leah recognized that most people are inherently good and that if they trusted themselves, they could reach their full potential, help those around them, and make the world a better place." Leah certainly did that for Culver City.
Leah loved nature and was an advocate for the environment. She was very involved at Linwood Howe Elementary School, especially with gardening projects. "Her presence was calming and grounding. She was a constant sight on the way to school, riding her babies on her larger-than-life bicycle," said Laura Lee, friend.
"For years Leah was part of the Linwood Howe Green Team and looked after the Butterfly Garden and Semi-Annual School Beautification. This year Leah stepped up to run the Green Team," said Amy Salzmann, friend. "We identified one of the big projects we would like to push forward was the Kindergarten Amphitheater Garden. This is an idea Leah had for a couple years, and finally we thought it's time to make it happen – and now, more than ever, our community is running on every cylinder to make this a reality to dedicate to our beloved Leah."
Patrick Meighan, President of the Linwood Howe Booster Club, shared that "Leah Nico is one of the founding lights of the Linwood E. Howe Boosters, and it's safe to say that the Boosters wouldn't exist today if not for Leah- at least not in any form that we'd recognize. Not long ago the Lin Howe Boosters was an ad hoc parent club that raised maybe a few thousand dollars annually. Now, thanks to the course that Leah set and fostered, we're a designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit that brings in more than $100,000 per year... all for this little Title 1 school. And all the while, Leah has become encoded into our DNA. Pragmatic, optimistic, persistent, and always forward-moving: that's Leah Nico, and now it's the very culture of Linwood E. Howe Elementary."
As a member of MOMS Club of Culver City East, she was active as the captain of various play groups as her children grew. "She was the glue. She rallied us to meet up when we are all busy, and we thank her for that because she created a beautiful community. Even now that she's gone, she is still connecting people and making our community stronger," said friend, Edel Murphy.
"I strive to honor her life by reaching out and connecting even more with those around me," said friend, Laura Lee. "I always marveled at how she seemed to have such patience and confidence, as she juggled her family and life in general."
Candice Chang added, "Leah was amazing at balance. Her ability to balance the needs of everyone – four children, husband, community and herself – was impressive. Leah was always intentional about making sure everyone's buckets were filled with love."
Leah made everyday life special and beautiful. When she hosted, she presented her home, food, and beverages beautifully. "Leah packed a table cloth and vase to go camping," said her mother, Linda Sacks. Leah was a talented quilter and made beautiful baby blankets. She was an excellent cook, with a special affection for soups. She loved visiting the farmer's market and reflecting the seasons in her cooking. "She cooked for anyone in need, regardless of her busy life," said her mother. A few of her specialties included Gazpacho; Celery Root and Apple Soup; and Gruyere Bread.
(Attn Editor: If there is an online article, please include a hyperlink to the recipes. Attached is a photo of the Gazpacho soup in her handwriting, if you want to include the photo.)
Celery Root and Apple Soup (link for web version: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/celery-root-and-apple-soup-239846)
Gruyere Bread (link for web version: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/gruyere-bread-ring/c79eb914-de11-43aa-9933-cb572e426b9b)
Leah's brother, Nathan Bragg, shared that, "Many folks in Culver City may not have been aware of Leah's adventurous travel history" He described her traveling to Europe on a one-way ticket; cross-country road trips in a "borrowed junker"; and swimming in the Dead Sea. Adventures also included trips to the Pacific Northwest to visit brother, Eli Adam, and explore the great outdoors together.
Nathan recounted a story of when Leah took him on a last-minute, weekend trip from Michigan to New York City to visit their sister, Mara. "All in all, it was something like 36 hours on the bus for 15 hours in the city. My sister was an amazing woman who let no obstacle stand in her way. She used the sheer force of her will to make the world the way she thought it should and could be."
"Her loss will be felt far and wide," said her sister, Mara Bragg.
Leah had a wonderful marriage with her husband, Dave. Their love for each other was palpable to those around them. Their shared interests included their "love for each other, family, travel, adventure, nature, spontaneity, living without regrets, and being comfortable forging our own path," said Dave.
Leah Nico on her Xtracycle with sons Tavish and Chauncey.