Valerie Leger.
Courtesy of Saunders-Dwyer Funeral Homes

Valerie J. Leger lived a simple life.

“Very modest, absolutely no drama,” said her son, Jaime Leger of Stoughton.

Valerie got married and raised three children in New Bedford. She was a housewife for many years who volunteered in the community. In the 1970s, she worked with physically disabled people, bringing them to parks, the YMCA and other recreational spots.

Like most people, Valerie’s life on this earth ended with little fanfare. She died Nov. 10, 2020, in a hospice unit at the Alden Court Nursing Care and Rehabilitation Center in Fairhaven. Less than 10 days earlier, she had been diagnosed with COVID-19. She was 79.

“She had a great life,” Jaime Leger said.

Valerie Leger’s early life was more eventful. She was born in Ely, England, on June 15, 1941. Her early childhood years coincided with World War II. She was barely 4 years old when her mother, Edna Bussiere, who by then was divorced, met Robert Xifaras of New Bedford.

Xifaras, a U.S. Army soldier stationed in wartime England, fell in love with Edna. They married and together had two daughters. Xifaras sent for his wife and the three girls when he returned to New Bedford after the war. 

Valerie, her two sisters and their mother sailed to the United States aboard the RMS Queen Mary, the famous retired British ocean liner that today is a floating museum, tourist attraction and hotel in Long Beach, California.

“My grandmother was one of several thousand war brides who came over to the United States from England,” Jaime Leger said. “I’ve been to the Queen Mary and seen the logbook.”

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Valerie grew up in New Bedford and married the late Robert Leger. She attended Bristol Community College, and was known for her wit. She loved her pet cats and birds, and she was a horticultural enthusiast. In the 1990s, she moved to California for a few years before returning to New Bedford.

As a grandmother, Valerie took a young granddaughter into her home, raising the child by herself and giving her a chance at an education and a good life.

“As with most people, you become a grandparent and it changes your whole life. It certainly did for my mother,” Jaime Leger said, adding that his mother valued family and getting relatives together for special occasions.

In her later years, Valerie suffered from vascular dementia, prompting her family to place her at Alden Court. She was there for barely three weeks when she tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Jaime Leger said.

Valerie was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she suffered a blood clot and stroke related to COVID-19. She was brought back to Alden Court to live out her last days receiving palliative care in hospice.

“From the diagnosis to when she died, it was like nine days. It was that quick,” said Jaime Leger, adding that several friends and relatives attended her funeral service in New Bedford.

“She had a lot of lifelong friends,” Jaime Leger said. “Like I said, my mother didn’t live a very exciting life, but she lived a good life.”

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