Kathy Leighton (née Armstrong) passed peacefully on March 4, 2023 with her loving family by her side. Kathy was a seventh-generation resident of Byron, raised on the Armstrong family ranch where the iconic barn painted with the American flag, a landmark of the family homestead, still stands along Vasco Road. Thanks to the dedicated caretaking by her daughter, Chantelle, she was able to fulfill her wish of living in her home until the end of her life.
A self-appointed local historian, Kathy spent over 40 years compiling the written and oral histories of the East Contra Costa area and its people. She could often be found holding court in the “game room” at her Byron home (a space designed for entertaining), pouring bottomless cups of coffee and spinning yarns with enough vigor to entice her multi-generational listeners. Kathy also committed these histories to the page in numerous publications including her book titled Footprints in the Sand, the second edition still available through the East Contra Costa Historical Society.
Kathy was a pillar of the community serving, over the years, on numerous boards and committees, including the Contra Costa County Central Committee, Byron Airport Commission, Byron Municipal Advisory Council, John Marsh Historic Trust, Contra Costa Historical Society and the East Contra Costa Historical Committee, where she was a founding chairperson. She was honored in 2015 as a “Graduate of Distinction” by her alma mater, Liberty Union High School, and in 2001 as the “California Legislature Woman of the Year”.
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