Leighton Carlson

August 11, 1942 ~ December 28, 2020 (age 78)




Leighton “Lee” B. Carlson, 78, of Madison CT, died December 28, 2020, at Yale-New Haven Hospital.  Lee was born August 11, 1942, in Newark, NJ, to the late Leighton R. and Helen (Milewski) Carlson.  He is survived by his best friend and beloved husband of 43 years, Duane E. Mellor, Jr.  Survivors also include brother Dennis Carlson (Pamela) of Wayne, NY, and sisters-in-law Susan Short (Wallace) of San Antonio and Trish Pedersen (Peter) of Houston, TX.  He also leaves behind many adored nieces and nephews.  Lee was predeceased by his sister-in-law Diane Stanford (Dale).


Lee grew up in Kearny, NJ.  After attending Bryant College in Rhode Island, he became a locomotive fireman and engineer on the Erie Lackawanna Railroad.  An avid railfan, he visited, rode, and photographed modern and vintage trains all over the country, developing many friendships along the way.  He posted countless train photos and videos online.  Lee was a member and trolley operator at the Branford Trolley Museum, and since 2013, was employed part-time at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat.  He was an enthusiastic supporter of Friends of the Valley Railroad.  In addition to railroading, Lee’s career included cooking at several New Haven restaurants and arranging leisure and corporate travel for both Fugazy Travel and New Haven Travel Service, from which he retired in 2008.  Family trips to Keuka Lake in upstate New York were a highlight of his summers for over 70 years.


Lee had an enormous number of interests.  Few men had a wider knowledge of the church, music, railroads, travel, and cooking combined.  He was a man of the world, a man of quick humor, and a man of compassion, which is why so many were drawn to him; his life was important to many.  He was also a true friend to animals, especially the dogs he adopted and loved over the years.


Lee’s family recognizes the excellent and compassionate care he received from the MICU doctors, nurses and staff at YNHH NP9.  We are thankful for their efforts.


Hawley Lincoln Memorial, 424 Elm St., New Haven is in care of arrangements. There will be no calling hours, nor is a formal service planned at this time.  Interment will be private.  Donations in Lee’s name may be made to an animal rescue organization of your choice.

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