Remembering Lea Wait

The crime fiction community–and the world–lost a treasure a few days ago. Lea Wait was a New Englander, a friend to all the Wickeds, a gracious and courageous woman, and an immensely talented and productive author. We take today to remember and memorialize her.

Lea’s daughters have invited anyone wishing to attend a remembrance of her life to join them on Wednesday, the 14th, at 147 Eddy Road, Edgecomb, Maine, from 1- 3 pm.  

Wickeds, please share about Lea: your memory, tribute, funny story, or thoughts.

Julie: When I think of her, especially during this past year, fierce grace comes to mind. At Crime Bake I was so thrilled to see her, and told her that. She didn’t downplay the battle she was in, but did say that she was feeling better and was grateful for that. Right before Malice she posted that she’d broken her ankle, and I thought “oh no!” But then there she was with a walking cast and friends who were happy to help her. She was a lovely woman and a wonderful writer. And she had fierce grace that taught me a lot this past year.

Liz: Amen, Julie. I didn’t know Lea as well as some of the Wickeds, but I always enjoyed seeing her at events and getting to know her. I remember meeting her husband Bob once and thinking how adorable they were together. I too was in awe of her spirit and stamina this past year, and I’m glad I got to speak with her one last time at Malice.

Edith: Exactly, ladies. I am quite sure I wouldn’t have been so motivated to keep going, to keep making conference visits, to finish books under contract as Lea did, and with no public complaining. She really was a talented writer, weaving traditional mysteries with the flavor of Maine, her knowledge of antique prints, the world of adoption, and so much more. I loved the story of her and her dear Bob finding each other again after decades apart, and that they had some years of true marital bliss toward the ends of their lives. May your soul rest peacefully, Lea.

Sherry: This quote by Leonardo Di Vinci makes me think of Lea: I love those who can smile in trouble, who gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. Lea was a talented, funny, generous woman who taught me more this past year than I  knew I needed to learn. I’m glad I knew her.

Barb: I wrote my tribute to Lea a year ago. At that time she thought she had weeks or, at the outside, months. But it turned out she had a year, a “bonus year” as she called it. She used it well. She wrote a blog post for Maine Crime Writers of all the things she did with her bonus time. Lea had been a friend and a mentor to me for a long time by the time of her diagnosis, but in the past year she has given me one last gift, the gift of modeling how to face death with grace, dignity, and humor.

Jessie: Lea was always such an inspiration. We were on a panel to gather several years ago in Scarborough and I was impressed by her wide-ranging body of work. As time went on and I understood what it takes to remain in the business I was more impressed still. She continued to inspire awe long after her health took a turn for the worse. I felt so privileged to see her on a panel at the Maine Crime Wave on the first of June. She showed everyone how to be a class act all the way until the end.

Barb, Edith, Lea, Sherry, and Julie at an opening at the Stable Gallery in June 2018. Lea’s late husband Bob Thomas’s paintings hang in the background.

Readers: Please share your memory of Lea or her books. (And if you haven’t read her books, please do – find them at Lea Wait.)

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any gifts be made in honor of Lea to the Lincoln County Historical Association in Maine. Here’s a link to the site.

49 Thoughts

  1. I read her post last year when she was diagnosed, and was in awe of her courage. I had the privilege of speaking with her this year at Malice. She was lovely and gracious, and very, very brave.

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  2. I love her books and when I heard she has cancer I was devastated for her and her family. I read a few posts she did in the last year and could not agree more with all your comments. What a great lady, a role model, a loving person, mom, wife etc. She has left a legacy and will be missed.

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  3. Honored to have befriended Lea decades ago at a Deadly Ink ,NJ conference where she was launching her Antique Prints series. Witty,knowledgeable and charming come to mind as she graciously engaged all those she met. A beacon of hope to remain resilient through life’s challenges.
    Truly a sad loss for the mystery community.

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  4. A couple of years ago Lea spent the night at my house–we were on our way to an early morning writers’ event near my home. I didn’t know her well, but we had dinner at the house, and then a chat turned into several hours of talk, not just about writing but about family and our plans and any number of topics. We finally made it to bed after midnight. She was an extraordinary woman.

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  5. When I looking for blurbs for A Hole in One, book 2 in my Glass Dolphin (antiques shop) mystery series, the first author I thought about was Lea Wait. One problem: I knew her, but she didn’t know me, and she certainly would not have heard of me. Nonetheless, I contacted her expecting, at best, a polite “too busy” and at worst, no response. Instead I received an email within hours telling me that not only would she love to, she was honored by the request. That blurb is on the back of A Hole In One, and it’s all the more special now. May she rest in peace. Thank you for this post and the opportunity to share my story.

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  6. I loved Lea’s books and was so thrilled when I won her last one through your awesome blog! She was kind of enough to personally autograph the book for me and sent me some other goodies as well. I really enjoyed her Needlepoint series! I was so sad to see she had passed. I hope she realized how much joy she brought to readers. She will definitely be missed. 😦

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  7. I never met Lea in person but we shared a love of old houses and antiques. We chatted online and she sent me photos of her beautiful house. I loved all her books and I read her books even before I knew what a cozy mystery was. She was a true inspiration to my writing. She will be missed but can be found in the pages of her wonderful legacy — her books.

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  8. Until today, I haven’t commented on Lea’s passing except a sad face on various Facebook postings because I only knew her as an acquaintance — a lovely, talented, kind acquaintance. A year ago, I commented on Lea’s initial self-posting, a few of her postings about Bob and her loss, and her final year bonus post because it revealed the grace of a fine woman. Today, I’m commenting on this blog post because it is written by so many people who truly knew, loved, and cherished her. For all, may her memory be a blessing.

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  9. Came to love her books, I am happy to have one more ordered which I will read slowly and with appreciation, but even more the spirit of the lady was obvious, what a classy and courageous person. I will miss her posts and opportunity for new works.

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  10. I met Lea a few years ago when she was the featured author for one of my church’s Author Luncheons. What a kind, warm and funny woman …a very talented author and one from whom we all gained strength during her courageous battle. Rest in Peace, Lea, and thank you again for all you graciously shared with us, your readers.

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  11. Lea was an inspiration, not only as a writer, but as a friend, wife, mother, and woman. I heard on Saturday that she passed, and I thought it was fitting that I learned about it at a book festival where so many people knew and loved her. She will be missed, and I offer the Wickeds my condolences in the loss of a good friend.

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  12. I absolutely love her books. Such a wonderful storyteller. While I never met Lea, I remember feeling punched in the gut after reading of her diagnosis. I read her blog posts about the loss of her beloved husband, her illness, her all incompassing love her daughters and her ability to face her illness with grace and on her own terms. May she rest in peace!

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  13. Loving your remembrances, Wickeds, and all the other comments here. I only met Lea a few times, at Malice and Crime Bake, but deeply admired both her perseverance through long years in a challenging profession — her 2d or 3d career, if I remember right — and her response to first Bob’s illness and death, then her own. Barb, your comments about her more than a year ago, stick with me, esp how you and Bill found Lea and Bob’s artistic journeys such a spur to your own. And Julie, “fierce grace” — perfect, simply perfect.

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  14. This is so sad! She was one of my favorite cozy authors and a very nice lady. She was so kind when I asked her to be on my blog on more than one occasion. I am going to miss her and her lovely descriptions of Maine in her books. 😦

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  15. I will never forget the response I got when I asked Lea who replied to my “cold call invite” to do a guest post. I was thrilled because I’ve heard about her but didn’t know her. But what she offered was prequels to the current book, so I knew I was getting original guest post. Every year, we both counted on this. Then I found out about her cancer and I wavered whether to send her an invite and when I did, she joked she may not get to see it run. I cried and prayed that she would and guess what she did. I remember sending her a reminder note saying I didn’t think this day would come and she wrote back neither did I. And then she broke her foot/ankle and I was so afraid I would not get to see her, but there she was a Malice and I waited until I could get my bear hug and all I did was smile the rest of the day. Then I didn’t know if she was going to attend New England Crime, and yet this strong and determined woman made it. Her strength was evident in all that she had achieved and I’m so glad we were all there to witness this dynamo. Hugs Lea. You are at peace and sitting right there next to Bob.

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  16. Barbara Ross introduced me to Lea, first virtually and then in person. I love her writing, and have eagerly awaited the publication of each new book. She was always warm, caring, and gracious. Truly an inspiration and an indomitable force. I will miss her.

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  17. I met Lea and Bob at mystery writer Cynthia Rigg’s Martha’s Vineyard home. They were such a wonderful couple, and they had such a compelling love story. Lea on her own was just as impressive, with her girls and her books and her talent and her grit. She will be missed.

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