A mother for the ages
By Lynn Zahorik; courtesy photos
As we honor mothers of all ages this month, one family in The Village at Castle Pines celebrates both Mother’s Day and the 97th birthday of a remarkable woman who has been a mom for 73 years.
Known as Libby Wright to most, Elizabeth Louise Miller was born on May 19, 1923 in Bay City, Michigan. The second of five children and the oldest girl, Libby experienced childhood during the Great Depression. As her brothers headed off to Italy to serve in World War II, Libby went to work for IBM in data entry, quickly earning a supervisory role due to her top-notch management skills.
Libby met her husband Leonard II (Len), a member of the United States Army when he was home on furlough. Smitten from the start, Len and Libby courted during furloughs and were married a year later in 1945. After the war, they had three children Lynn, Cheryl and Leonard III, whom they raised in their cherished hometown of Flint where all of Libby’s siblings lived as well.
Libby prides herself on having raised her family with faith, love and laughter. “With Len by my side, I enjoyed every minute of motherhood,” marveled Libby. “We were a close-knit family that supported one another. From the time they [our kids] were very small children, they were as different as night and day, yet they all grew up to be strong, successful professionals,” she said. Libby’s talents as a mother did not go unnoticed, as she was named “Mother of the Year” for the state of Michigan in 1970.
With all her children in school, Libby embarked on a new career in real estate. She worked for several offices before hanging up her own “Libby Wright Realtor” sign. Quickly impressing the real estate world with her success, she was chosen as president of many boards and associations, including serving as president of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Libby was the first woman to be chosen chairman of the board of directors of Hurley Medical Center.
Len and Libby enjoyed 34 years of marriage. Libby was the apple of Len’s eye and he never missed the opportunity to spoil her.
When her husband passed away, Libby moved to Boca Raton in 1987 where she enjoyed the Florida lifestyle living near her daughter Lynn. For the past two years, Libby has been living in Colorado close to her daughter and son-in-law, Cheryl and Mike Porter, residents in The Village at Castle Pines. “My Mother was a trailblazer and has been a constant inspiration to us,” remarked Cheryl. “She is a special gift to so many.” Libby recently made Legacy Village of Castle Pines her new home.
Libby is an accomplished pianist, playing only by ear, and she is famous for gathering everyone around the piano for a singalong, especially at Christmas. Her strong faith has guided her to serve her church in many capacities, including elder, Sunday school teacher, greeter and chairman of the church council. She has a green thumb and is a master at growing violets and orchids. She loves doing a daily crossword puzzle and enjoys reading romance or mystery books.
As the years have rolled by, 96-year-old Libby has been blessed with six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren who affectionately call her “Tutu,” the Hawaiian word for grandma. She loves them all equally, of course, and never misses an opportunity to support and celebrate their accomplishments and milestones.