Leea Voetberg, 63

“Yes, beauty comes from within, it makes a person beautiful on the outside. Attractive is a person with kind eyes, wrinkles, laugh lines, who is fun, good, quirky, dry, and a sense of humor – who can laugh at themselves.”

“Yes, beauty comes from within, it makes a person beautiful on the outside. Attractive is a person with kind eyes, wrinkles, laugh lines, who is fun, good, quirky, dry, and a sense of humor - who can laugh at themselves.” Leea Voetberg was photographed in 2022 at the age of 63 by Photographer Rachel Hadiashar at the portrait studio in Sherwood, Oregon.

Leea values compassion, justice, empathy, and gratitude. People would say she is confident, fit, and determined. Determined – the most important description stemming from her fighting baby self, abandoned for 3 days at 10 months old in winter, no heat or food. Determined to live. Adopted 3 years later into a supportive family.

Her inner clock is of an early bird, a Lark, starting before the sunrise, just as a lark that exudes cheerfulness while flying, so does Leea as she awaits the possibilities the day holds, bursting forth with a full-force vibrato of energy. ‘Like the buds of fresh plants, determined to embrace the sunlight, rejoicing in life pushing their way up, moving towards the sun, she springs out of bed.’

Leea has grabbed life by the reins, and overcame the fear of riding a horse after being run over by one on the farm she grew up on, in order to do a 9-day, 170-mile horse trek from Dufur to Scotts Mills with her middle son. She has backpacked the tranquility of the Wallowas, the Grand Canyon to see Havasupai Falls, Denali mountains, led Crater Lake full moon snowshoe adventures. She has made furniture out of snow, sipped hot beverages over a toasty fire with sparks twinkling upwards in the clear sky on an annual snowshoe trip 2 miles to a cabin at Trillium Lake. Leea has been hiking for 50 years now and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Her trail name is Gogo Boots.

One of Leea’s greatest achievements that gives her a sense of empowerment has been living fearless, as her heart and soul calls her to be. As a 6-year-old, she knew she was a lesbian even though she had never heard the word and didn’t know what it meant. The feeling in her heart was this is who she was. She has spent the last 21 years with the woman her soul was meant to be loved by and whom she was meant to love.

While being over the age of 50 is perceived by some to mean frail and weak with a withering mind. ‘We are not afraid of all the things that diminish our freedom of physical expression from our under-50 body.’ Busting this stereotype, Leea picked up a set of dumbbells, committed herself to wellness dancing 7 days a week and can now do straight leg push-ups. She also revived the memory of her 1976 Home Economics class, dusted off her mama’s ancient Singer machine and gratefully sewed 500 masks for hospital use when there was a mask supply shortage during COVID.

After aspiring to be the best mother, raising 3 beautiful boys – now proud men – she yearns to aid abandoned babies. Memories of her own early plight etched in her heart, 64 years ago, feeling warm and fed by caring helpers at Albertina Kerr Center she plans to give back, full circle, by holding and comforting infants, giving the gift of compassion and empathy to those little lives in need in a hospital nursery.

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I’M  RACHEL.

I take portraits of brilliant people being fancy.

Photographer Rachel Hadiashar is based out of a bright and airy studio space in Sherwood, Oregon, where she co-creates spirited and elegant images to showcase a client’s best self.
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