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Leonardo Martin DeLeon of Silver Spring, MD passed to Eternal Life in Heaven on November 5, 2023, at the age of 89. He is predeceased by his beloved wife of 63 years, Carol C. DeLeon, who died earlier this year on Easter Sunday. He is survived by four sons Leo J. (Amy), Michael J. (Gina), Paul J. (Tammy) and Matthew J. along with five grandchildren Alyssa, Nicholas (Hanna), Michael-Paul, Rylee, and Madisyn.
Leonardo was born in Philadelphia, PA on February 3, 1934, a son of the late Eustaquio DeLeon and Anita Dolores Comfort. He was a 1952 graduate of Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. From there he went on to earn a B.A. in Economics from Georgetown University in 1956. Shortly thereafter he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and began Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. In December of 1956 he was commissioned as an Ensign.
In December of 1959, while on leave, he married Carol Coleman from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. who was the Nursing Supervisor at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C. This match made in Heaven was facilitated by Leonardo’s sister, Natalie, who was a nurse working with Carol at Providence.
He remained an active-duty Naval Officer until 1962 during which time he served as the Engineering Officer aboard the USS Lester (DE 1022) a new Dealey-class Destroyer Escort that operated in the North Atlantic and that was deployed to the Mediterranean in 1958 to “show the Flag” with the 6th Fleet in operations during the first Lebanon crisis providing support for the U.S. Carriers Wasp, Essex and Saratoga. In 1960 he received orders to the Naval Intelligence School in Anacostia where he studied the Russian language. Upon completing this program, he was stationed within the Department of Defense. He stayed in the Naval Reserve after leaving active duty. He was Commanding Officer of five different units and Chief of Staff of the largest Group Command in the country. He retired from the Reserve as a Captain in 1988. He completed his professional career serving as a Senior Intelligence Analyst and Cryptologic Staff Officer for the Department of Defense in December of 1995.
Beyond his professional life there were three key passions in Leonardo’s life, family, the church, and model trains. He was there for his four boys through years of C.Y.O. and various little league sports including baseball, basketball (despite their gene pool), football and tennis often as one of the coaching staff. He was a quiet, unassuming person but someone who was a constant source of encouragement and support for anything and everything his sons and, later, daughters-in-law and grandchildren were involved in. He supported his wife Carol’s love for antiques and enjoyed helping her set up her spaces at the various shops and shows she participated in. He loved their travels together both locally and abroad in search of antiques and, more importantly, lifelong memories of time spent exploring with antiquing friends and with all our family from Saratoga. He was meticulous and a perfectionist as evidenced by the shine he wanted on his shoes for church every Saturday and the handwritten diagram he created to insure he got all his Dickens Houses placed just right on the mantle over the fireplace in our den that we spent so many wonderful nights around every Christmas season.
Leonardo and Carol were devout Catholics with unwavering faith. For most of the time they were raising their family they were members of St Catherine Laboure where both dad and sons started their ushering duties. In their more recent years Leonardo and Carol had become very active members of St. Andrew Apostle with dad and son Matt ushering, dad being part of one of the regular offering “count” teams while mom helped with the special laundering of the alter linens. Leonardo and Carol were fixtures in a small group of St. Andrew’s parishioners who enjoyed the fellowship of unhurried dinners together at the same community restaurant every Saturday evening following the 5:00pm mass.
From his retirement in 1995 until earlier this year, Leonardo spent many hours each week working in a local model train shop. He was drawn to this hobby as he reminisced about the model trains he grew up with as a child. In his adult years he amassed an impressive collection of numerous full working sets of antique model trains many of which are still on display in a train garden he built and painstakingly laid out across half of the entire basement of our home. He got great pleasure, particularly around the Holidays, when friends and neighbors brought their children by to “see Leo’s trains run” and to see his Teddy Bear Tree!
Outside of these three passions he loved history, his library is full of books covering a range of eras and topics. If he had control of the remote, you’d always find him watching CNN or MSNBC consuming the constant thread of the latest national news. He always enjoyed classical music and over the last few months of his life often had it softly playing all night by his bedside to help him sleep peacefully. He was also a lifelong Redskins fan although later in life to preserve his own mental health he gave up his season tickets and started watching the games on tape to avoid the stress of live TV. The license plate that has been in our family for many years and is attached to his latest Buick, reads “RSKINS.”
Leonardo is also survived by his sister Natalie and many loving nieces and nephews. His younger brother Paul passed to his Eternal Life earlier this year.
Visitation will be at St. Andrew Apostle Church, 11600 Kemp Mill Rd. Silver Spring, MD 20902 on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, from 10:00am until 11:00am with Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00am. Interment to follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Silver Spring, MD.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Leonardo’s name may be made to St. Andrew Apostle Church in Silver Spring, MD.
* Additional photos are available on the Tribute Wall *
St. Andrew Apostle Catholic Church
11600 Kemp Mill Road, Silver Spring MD 20902