Ellen Gilbert Leonard, musician, meditator, dancer, mother – VTDigger


January 16th, 2023

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November 29, 2022, Ellen Gilbert Leonard 61, passed peacefully in her home, held by her family and friends in a nest of love and song.
She was born in 1961 to R. Webb Leonard and Betty McGee Leonard in Belleville, NJ. The youngest of 4 children, she attended The Vershire School and graduated from Skidmore College. Early on, she made her own way in the world, and the giving of joy and spirit through music was at the heart of her way.
At age 19 she gave birth to Aaron in a lean-to built for the occasion by husband George Jones on Martha’s Vineyard. Soon after, she moved to Vermont to continue her education, which had at its core a lifetime practice of meditation. She taught Aaron to meditate at 3 years old and that is still a big part of his daily practice. Ellen’s mother was an initiate of Kirpal Singh and being on the Path was important to her, especially when Aaron was young.
In 1985, she married James LaPaglia and soon after that Sophia and Aliza were born at home with help from midwife Judy Luce. At that time, another midwife, Katra Kindar, started teaching an Afro Cuban prenatal dance class, with live drumming by Stuart Paton. For more than 35 years Ellen would sing, dance and teach the life sustaining songs and rhythms of the Afro Caribbean traditions. Also for more than 17 years, she sang and danced as part of Midnight Capers, a Morris dance troupe.
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Ellen taught music in Central Vermont schools, including Cabot and Waterbury. Ellen also taught private music lessons and MusicTogether to families with children ages infants to 5 years.
Her collaboration with Janice Walrafen included leading the song and dance for All Species Day, Enchanted Forest, Ice on Fire, First Night Montpelier and more; She collaborated and performed with Emily Lanxner on many projects. She performed with Dragon Dance Theater. In the words of a music student she mentored, Katie Trautz,” She was a rock star”. And, in fact, she was a rock star, having been a touring member of the rock band, Uproot.
In 1995, Ellen had a hand fasting ceremony with Chris Miksic. Aaron, Sophia and Aliza would grow up with Chris’s 3 children, Erin, Galen and Amber in Plainfield through to 2003.
In 1999 Ellen opened the AllTogetherNow! Preschool as her part of a vision she and Janice had been dreaming up. The five star All Together Now! Preschool has 3 guiding Principles of Peace: Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Gentle.
Ellen and Janice had been teaching, organizing summer camps and hosting seasonal celebrations for years and together they founded the AllTogetherNow! Community Art Center in East Montpelier. For over 30 years, AllTogetherNow!, has been a place of celebration and creative learning for everyone. It is home to the preschool, art classes, permaculture workshops, and popular summer camps. The seasonal offerings have planted the seeds of song and spirit in generations of Central Vermont children.
But Ellen always found a way to break free. There was Prescott, then a horse, or a motorcycle, or a sailboat. When she turned 50, she traveled alone around Europe on a motorcycle and for the past 10 years, she has kept a sailboat moored ready to go on Lake Champlain. In 2016 she went with Aro Veno on a bus to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation at the peak of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Guided by her dreams, she worked for many decades with North of Eden Archetypal Dreamwork, offering the Dreamwork, and co-facilitating North of Eden workshops in this country and abroad.
She is survived by her children: Rev. Aaron Webster Leonard Jones and partner Rachel Houseman, Santa Fe NM; Sophia LaPaglia and fiancé Andy Cofino, Los Angeles, CA; Aliza LaPaglia; her sister Dr. Randi Leonard Holmes and brother-in-law Dr. Doug Holmes of Raleigh, NC; sister Leigh Leonard Stallings, Saratoga Springs, NY; brother Mark Leonard and sister-in-law Ginger Leonard of Princeton, NJ; her stepsisters, Heather Lund and Holly M Leonard Ingersoll, of St. Paul, MN and many cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles and her beloved dog Lily.
She was predeceased by both of her birth parents, as well as stepmother, Joan Leonard and stepfather, Dr. Philip West. She was also predeceased by her half brother Justin, who was disabled living in a nursing facility in Argyle, NY. Nearing the end of his life, Ellen retrieved him and moved him to her property in Vermont where she tended him until he passed.
All obituaries are independently verified by VTDigger. To submit an obituary, click here.
Date of birth: 10/25/1961
Date of death: 11/29/2022
Born in Belleville , New Jersey
Died in East Montpelier, Vermont
The burial and memorial celebration happened on December 2 in East Calais. Ellen had a green burial, wrapped in a shroud and laid to rest in the Robinson Cemetery.


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