Leena Kareoja Crothers, 83, of Northford, passed away peacefully on Monday, May 21, 2018 at the Whitney Center, Hamden, with her family by her side. She was the beloved wife of the late Donald Morris Crothers for 54 years. Leena was born in Viipuri, Finland, on July 31, 1934, a daughter of the late Gustaf Aarre Kareoja and Helvi Unhola Kareoja. After graduating from the Lahti Conservatory of Music, she left Finland at age 19 to study at the Vienna Music Academy and subsequently received a grant from the French government to study in Paris with Samson François. While studying in Paris, she met her future husband, Donald, in 1959. Upon their marriage in 1960 in Lahti, they left Europe to live in the United States, settling first in San Diego, California before eventually moving to Connecticut. She was a piano teacher at the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven for 44 years, where she established the Suzuki piano program. Leena loved children and was passionate about teaching, nurturing the best within each child, and enriching the lives of many generations of children with her knowledge and love of music. She recorded numerous pieces for the Finnish radio that are still played today, and enjoyed performing at various venues including Sprague Hall, the Neighborhood Music School, and the Whitney Center as well as appearing on the “Morning Pro Musica” radio program with Philomel, a group she co-founded. She was also a sought-after accompanist and played with many students in their recitals. She enjoyed photography and traveling, and spoke several languages. Mother of Nina (Fred Nangle) Crothers and Kristina (Mark Skirgaudas) Crothers. Beloved grandmother of Sofia, Freya, Evan and Elena. Sister of Timo Kareoja. Also survived by six nephews and a niece.
Funeral Services and interment will be privately held. A Memorial Concert in Leena’s memory and to celebrate her teaching will take place at a later date this year. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made by check to Music Haven, 315 Peck St. Box A10, New Haven, CT 06513. The North Haven Funeral Home, 36 Washington Avenue, North Haven, has been entrusted with her arrangements.