Thursday, October 08, 2009

Lesley Margaret Soden



Mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, artist, seeker. Born July 29, 1953, in Montreal. Died Jan. 11 in Toronto of breast cancer, aged 55.

Lesley Soden bounded into the world exuberant and larger than life, engaged in everyone and everything.
At 18, Lesley put her innate charm to work while travelling in Southeast Asia with her sister and brother-in-law. On the flight to Manila, she captivated the president of a large company, who sent his limousine to fetch her and her companions for dinner. There Lesley regaled the guests with a psychological game, then adroitly analyzed everyone's responses and was given an islands tour as a thank you.

Lesley returned to Canada and put her psychology degree from McGill University to work with disadvantaged teens at a community centre in Montreal.

At 40, Lesley was given a party and an incredible quilt. Squares of white cloth were sent all over the globe to be decorated by friends and family aged 7 to 70, many insisting they had no artistic talent. Nevertheless the squares were embroidered, silk screened and painted, then made into a beautiful quilt. This quilt inspired a conference at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on the power of community and purpose to inspire people.

Always a superb teacher, Lesley's professors in the master of art history program at the University of Western Ontario in London recall how she made a copy to scale of one of Piero della Francesca's immense frescoes to share what she had learned while studying in Italy. At her doctoral thesis defence at OISE, she dared to hand out pencils and pads to the examiners and invited them to engage in spontaneous image-making - to help them understand her thesis on spontaneous art as a vehicle for self-awareness.

Later that year, Lesley and her love, Michael Moody, produced her crowning achievement, their son, Jack Moody.

Lesley went on to become an award-winning public speaker, a micro-entrepreneur who helped businesses harness their creativity and a beloved teacher at Seneca College in business ethics and applied communication.

She could be a trying person at times in the best way, calling upon people to really live, question and wonder. She delighted in people's successes no matter how small, shared their pain and was passionate about helping people discover themselves.

But we remember best the down-home Lesley who taught the neighbourhood kids to play guitar, dance and paint; organized school reunions; fashioned elaborate costumes for Jack, who wanted to be an item of food each Halloween; and was vibrant and present for every conversation. When asked about the meaning of life in her final days, she said, "To love and to be loved is all that matters." She had succeeded.

Ann Soden is Lesley's sister.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember Lesley from st. augustine's school in Notre dame de grace. the year was 1965.

she was thoughtful and gentle. she stood out, I thought at the time.

from Valerie, a classmate