Folsom Funeral Service

Leyden, Rita

November 2, 1937 – March 2, 2023

Rita Ann (Nuss) Leyden, age 85, of Westport, CT and Westwood, MA, died peacefully from natural causes on March 2, 2023. Her warmth, generosity, ready laugh, quick wit, listening ear, impeccable style, and deep faith will be sorely missed.

Affectionately known as “Grey Momma” for her stunning silver hair and nurturing spirit, Rita was a voracious reader and lifelong learner. Her enthusiasm for sports was genuine; she knew the players, the stats, and the strategy. Rita enjoyed playing tennis, bowling, and riding waves in Quogue and Maui. Her knitted infant blankets and prayer shawls brought comfort to hundreds. Her homemade chocolate chip bars were devoured by those who visited the family home one block from Compo Beach. 

Rita was the cherished wife of Thomas Patrick Leyden, her husband of 59 years who predeceased her in July 2020. She raised three devoted children: Margaret Mary (Peggy) Leyden Holda, of South Easton, MA; Patricia Marie Leyden Paul of South Grafton, MA; and Thomas Patrick Leyden, Jr. of Westwood, MA. She was beloved by her granddaughters Megan Elizabeth Paul, Abigail Marie Paul, Dahlia Anna Leyden, and Olivia Rita Leyden. She also was blessed to have numerous nieces and nephews whom she loved dearly.

Rita is survived by her sisters Dorothy (Nuss) Finnegan and Edna (Nuss) Leyden and her brother Hon. Thomas Nuss and his wife, Susan Case Nuss. She is predeceased by her parents Francis Bernard and Edna Ellen (O’Gara) Nuss, her brother Rev. Francis Bernard Nuss, her sister Ellen (Nuss) Illuzzi and brothers-in-law Francis Finnegan, Francis Illuzzi, and Lawrence Leyden. She also is predeceased by her parental in-laws Arthur Francis and Margaret Mary (Long) Leyden and siblings-in-law Arthur Francis, Jr. and Regina Leyden.

Born in Flushing, NY on November 2, 1937, Rita grew up in Great Neck, NY. She graduated from St. Aloysius School in Great Neck in 1951 and Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, NY in 1955. Rita earned a BA in History from the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ in 1959. 

Rita dedicated most of her adult life helping her children realize their potential. She also put her talents to work as a volunteer, forming the Assumption School library and fundraising for Fairfield College Preparatory School. A longtime member of the Westport Young Women’s League, Rita served as its President from 1976-77, overseeing numerous social and charitable initiatives and forming friendships that would last decades. When her nest emptied, Rita re-entered the workforce, becoming a top salesperson at Talbot’s and a knowledgeable circulation desk assistant at the Westport Public Library.

Rita was an active parishioner at the Church of the Assumption in Westport, CT, serving as both a Lector and Eucharistic Minister. In 2013, Rita received the St. Augustine Medal of Service from the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, which recognizes  “unsung heroes” who unselfishly dedicate their time and talents to develop parish communities.

Visiting Hours will be on Wednesday, March 22 from 4-8 p.m. at Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Road East, Westport, CT. A Mass of Christian Burial will be on Thursday, March 23 at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Assumption, 98 Riverside Avenue, Westport, CT. The Funeral Mass will also be available for viewing via live-stream online. Further details will be available through the Assumption parish website

In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to make a donation in Rita’s honor to a cause that was very dear to her – The Women’s Empowerment Scholarship, PO Box 380, Monson, MA 01057,

Guestbook Entries

  1. Jennifer Chittick
    March 11th, 2023 | 9:55 am

    Warm condolences to all Leydens far and wide. Bradley Street memories will always include the wonderful pictures of family and friends on the frig! ❤️
    With love, Jen

  2. Lorraine Butler
    March 16th, 2023 | 3:39 pm

    she is now resting in peace

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Folsom Funeral Service

Folsom Funeral Service