Leta Ann Morris Withers

July 7, 2016

Leta Ann Morris Withers died on Thursday, July 7, 2016 surrounded by her beloved family: Adams, Geyer, Sullivan, and Payson. Leta's boys were her entire world.

Leta died at the age of 48 after a two-year-plus fight against colon cancer, during which, as she said, she was a Stage IV thriver.

Leta was an artist at heart, and she treated her illness and faced her mortality the same way she lived her life - with thoughtful intention laced with creativity and humor. Husband Adams lovingly described her as "the boss" of their family. Those who knew Leta will not be surprised that she left specific instructions regarding her obituary and service.

Leta fought hard but also bravely faced the possibility that her cancer could be incurable. She invited her family and friends to be optimistic realists along with her. "We're all going to die someday; I just happen to know what's probably going to get me," she said.

She fought as hard as she could - taking part in experimental trials and becoming a leader within the colorectal cancer community. She considered herself part of the "Colontown Welcome Wagon" and spent a large portion of her last two years helping people she had never met deal with their own diagnoses.

She was a warrior and left no doubt about why she was fighting so hard: "When it comes to more time on Earth with three boys who need and want their Mommacita, it really doesn't matter to me what I have to do. I'll do it with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart with every drop of chemo that drips into my body. I have some aches and pains, but I'm not complaining. I am here. Alive. Grateful for this day."

Leta's friends and family loved her for her untamed spirit, refreshing honesty, determination, positive outlook, sense of humor, creativity, generosity, and healthy dose of practicality, to name but a fraction of her better qualities. Leta loved having the house to come to on her street. Scores of children came in and out of Leta's home constantly and referred to her as "Momma Withers." Leta's friends will fondly remember how she loved a glass of wine at happy hour, and her happy hours generally started on the early side. Leta loved the beaches of South Carolina and the mountains of North Carolina. Leta loved a family gathering, her supper club, and a good book.

As Leta reluctantly but hopefully embraced her life with Stage IV cancer, she got a little less practical. She persuaded several of her interior design clients that white furry pillows were a necessity. She bought even more shoes. The funkier, the better. Recently, when she got the news that her cancer had spread again and into her lungs with a vengeance, she and her brother, Charles, went to the car dealership and bought the car of her dreams -- a Mini Cooper convertible. Sh was spotted tooling around Charlotte with her platinum blonde buzz cut, white framed sunglasses, dressed to kill, and with big bolts of fabric sticking up in the back seat. She was wheeling and dealing up to the end.

She put others at ease about what she jokingly referred to as "butt cancer." She did not believe stigmas served a useful purpose. We would be remiss if we did not remind everyone reading this to get your colonoscopies - early and often.

Leta was honest in all her communication about her disease, its progression, and her plans. It was not unusual for her to finish a CaringBridge post with a thoughtful question such as,"Every day is a gift. How are you going to live it?"

"Why couldn't I get breast cancer?" she wondered. "I look so good in pink and would have much more fun shopping for pink clothes than dark blue ones."

Actually, Leta was lovely in any color - and even lovelier and more colorful on the inside. Orange was her favorite. Leta rediscovered her love for painting (landscapes, especially) in recent months. She had an easel beside her bed. The home she decorated was full of color. She said that life before cancer was like living in black and white without even knowing it, but life with cancer was like living in color.

"Loleta" was born on April 27, 1968. Leta was raised and stayed in Charlotte, North Carolina. She attended Myers Park Traditional, Alexander Graham Middle School, and West Charlotte High School. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. She was a graphic artist and an interior designer.

Leta is survived by her husband of 21 years, Adams Withers; her boys, Geyer, Sullivan, and Payson; her parents, Ann and Roy Morris; her dogs and nest companions, Dixie and Tillie; Gracie the cat; her brother, Charles Morris and his wife, Gena; Adams' brother Thornton Withers and his wife, Holly; her nieces and nephews, Adele and Sedlee Morris and Henry, Ben, and Lauren Thompson, all of Charlotte. She is also survived by her sister, Laura Harding and Laura's husband, Greg, and their boys, Tom and Robbie, and Leta's aunt, Julie Ford, all of Dallas, TX. Leta is survived by her aunt, June Flowe, of Concord, NC. Leta was predeceased by her mother in law, Jayne Adams Withers, and dogs, Beri, Jesse, and Nonnie. Leta's friends were her family, too.

Leta's family extends our heartfelt gratitude and utmost respect to Leta's medical team: Dr. Kathryn Mileham and a multitude of compassionate doctors, nurses, therapists, and staff at the Levine Cancer Institute; Dr. Michael Haley and his staff at the CMC Main ICU; and Dr. Franklin L. Chen and the immunotherapy team at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston Salem. Cancer sucks but these people rock.

Leta is gone but her spirit covers us up. Live big. Love hard. Kiss and make up. Plant a flower. Adopt a dog. Paint it orange. Buy the convertible......

The service to celebrate Leta's life and legacy will be on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. at Myers Park United Methodist Church.

If you are inclined to do something in Leta's memory, please support the Levine Cancer Institute, Get Your Rear in Gear, or 24 Hours of Booty. We certainly would appreciate it.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth Poe Funeral & Cremation Services, 1321 Berkeley Ave Charlotte NC 28204. Phone: 704 641-7606

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