Leon Love, 79
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8"
These words reflect Leon Love, our honored partner, friend, father, grandfather, and trusted colleague. Our hearts ache as we mourn his loss. He died at home in Rochester, Massachusetts, on January 20, 2018, surrounded by his loving family.
Leon will be remembered for his gentle and firm nature; his ability to forgive and “let bygones by bygones”; his long, tireless career as an educator; his devotion to his family; and his faith in God.
Leon was born March 1, 1938, in East Liverpool, Ohio, to William and Christine Love. Leon was one of nine siblings, some of whom have preceded him in death: baby sister Frances, Tony, infant brother Mike, Greg (and partner Marquenta), William Jr., Robert (and wife Sylvia), Terry (and wife Kris), and Rosemary Wynn (and husband Bernard).
He married Iris, his devoted and loving wife of 23 years, on Christmas Eve, surrounded by warm candlelight and colorful poinsettias in an intimate ceremony that showed their devotion to one another. They provided for each other and served as one another’s emotional supports. They had many traveling adventures and enjoyed several trips to Florida and Hawaii. They especially enjoyed exploring the rugged coastline and beauty of Alaska by train and cruise ship. Leon most recently visited Kauai’s Hanalei Bay with family in August, including five of his young grandchildren.
Leon received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his Masters and Specialist degrees in Education Administration from Xavier University. He played defensive lineman on the University of Cincinnati football team and was later signed with the Washington Redskins. He served in the Army as a military policeman. In addition to his physical strength, he used his quiet strength to support his “team” throughout his entire life, serving as a counselor and mediator for family, friends, and co-workers.
Leon was a well-known and respected principal in the Dayton Public Schools, where he spent over 40 years working primarily as an administrator at Colonel White High School and Dunbar High School. He was also the Dean of Men at Central State University for several years. He was a formidable figure walking through those school hallways and he touched many students’ lives. He set high standards for students and staff, but was consistent, firm, and always supportive. He thought of himself as a father-figure for many of the students he worked with. He had a lifelong commitment to young people, aiming to help them develop into self-sufficient, responsible adults leading meaningful lives.
After retirement from the Dayton Public Schools, he and Iris moved in 2003 to Massachusetts in order to help with raising a newborn grandson. Leon was called again to serve as part-time school administrator for Sippican Elementary School in Marion, MA, where he helped to develop the school’s plans for emergency scenarios.
Leon loved his six children. Jeff Love and Craig Love, who have preceded him in death; Mike Love of Dayton, OH; Elizabeth Richardson (and husband Tom) of Mattapoisett, MA; Lee Tibbetts of Chicago, IL; and Sarah Bernier (and husband Allen) of Rochester, MA. He touched the lives of each of his grandchildren: Jessica Love, Rontae Love, Josiah Freeman; Max, Summer, and Daicey Richardson; Kai, Iris and Baby-on-its-way Bernier.
Leon was so very proud of his grandchildren. The 14 years that he lived in Massachusetts were devoted to them – supporting them, encouraging them, and challenging them to be the best they can be. And they loved him unabashedly in return, climbing into his warm, strong arms for comfort and listening to his stories. He helped his oldest grandson learn to drive the John Deere mower around the yard. He spent hundreds of hours with one (or more) grandchildren on his lap reading to them. He held them up and pointed out the moon and the stars.
He was a member of the Community Baptist Church in Marion, MA, for the past 14 years, serving as a Trustee for almost all of those years. He lived by example. And so too have we learned from Leon - how to lead with dignity, patience, humility, and respect for all. The world is a better place because of Leon Love.
Please consider contributions in Leon’s memory to a local Boys and Girls Club of America (bgca.org) chapter in your area.