Rita Layton was full of “beauty, charm, elegance, and grace,” wrote her daughter, Barbara Layton of East Hampton, but she also “had a strength and courage beyond words.”
Ms. Layton died at her daughter’s house on June 8 from a rare form of skin cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma. She was 87.
Born on March 27, 1926, in Washington Heights to James Corcoran and the former Margaret DeWitt, Irish immigrants, she was one of 10 children. She was raised in Washington Heights and graduated from high school in Manhattan.
On April 15, 1950, she married Frank Layton and they moved to Brooklyn the next year. Ms. Layton was an import-export manager for a number of companies based in Manhattan and worked hard throughout her career, her daughter said. “She walked to the train station through the housing projects every single day and got home very late,” she recalled. Lesser women might have balked at the dangers, but not her mother. At the time it was not as common for women to work outside the home, but “she was always ahead of her time,” the younger Ms. Layton said. “She was a very progressive thinker.”
Ms. Layton loved to read, especially historical fiction about Ireland. She enjoyed dancing, long walks, and the movies, and loved the water and being with her family. She was also a great cook. “Even though she was Irish, she made the best Italian food imaginable,” her daughter said.
“She was a complete giver,” she said, and “taught me what matters, truly life’s greatest gift.”
Ms. Layton moved to Riverdale in the mid-1990s. She spent summers and holidays in East Hampton with her daughter and had lived with her for the past four months while under hospice care.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a grandson, two sisters, Beatrice Murphy and Joan Hanahoe of the Bronx, and a brother, Jackie Corcoran of upstate New York. Her husband died in 2001.
Ms. Layton was a member of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton and St. Gabriel’s Church in Riverdale. A service was held at St. Gabriel’s on June 11. She was buried at Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, N.Y.
Her daughter has suggested memorial contributions to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978.