Matushka Barbara Letten

Matushka Barbara Letten
Matushka Barbara Letten

Matushka Barbara Letten, wife of Archpriest Nicholas Letten, fell asleep in the Lord, peacefully passing away at home, on December 13, 2019.

Born November 5, 1927 in Lodi, Ohio to Fred and Margaret Bohley, in 1950 she graduated from Wheaton College and married Lloyd – now Archpriest Nicholas – Letten. As a Navy Chaplain’s wife, they moved 17 times over 25 years.

In 1973, after their four children were grown, Barbara received a Master’s Degree in Counseling from William and Mary College. Father Nicholas and Matushka Barbara moved to Portland in 1982, where she became the director of Raphael House, creating lovely play spaces for the children and a sense of safety and caring for the families (and a beautiful garden out front) in this domestic violence shelter for women and children.

In the early 1990s, at the age of 65, Barbara retired from Raphael House and soon afterwards, founded an Orthodox bookstore on busy 21st Avenue in Portland. Her daughter Maria referred to this 15-year phase as, “the capstone of Mom’s career” – since all her talents were put to great use. She graciously greeted every person who came through the door, directing them to various Orthodox churches according to their needs. The Way of a Pilgrim Bookstore was beautiful and included a children’s area with child-sized table and chairs. Barbara instituted a lecture series on Orthodox theology, pilgrimage and hagiography.

During this time, she also hosted numerous people who were “adrift in the world” – sometimes for months at a time – while serving a growing community at Holy Apostles Orthodox Mission Church (also in NW Portland) where her husband was Rector.

Barbara retired and closed the bookstore at the tender age of 80 and moved to the Portland suburb of Milwaukie and became part of the community at Holy Annunciation Church there.

Matushka is survived by Archpriest Nicholas Letten, her children, Beverly Donnor, Bruce Letten and Maria (Shirley) Nash, 5 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.

Funeral services were held on December 19, 2019 at Holy Annunciation Church, Milwaukie, OR.

May Matushka Barbara’s memory be eternal!