Many of you who have been around the forum for a while had the chance to interact with @aleo. I received news that he passed away earlier this month and wanted to share the obituary I got from his niece. If anyone has fond memories they would like to share, feel free to add your comments.
Albert Joseph Leo September 29, 1925 - March 8, 2021 Al was born in Winfield, IL on September 29, 1925 to Albert Sophus Leo and Mary Beck. Al was the youngest of four children, all of whom preceded him in death.
He served in the Army during WWII, where he was injured during battle in France, receiving a Purple Heart.
Al met the love of his life, Georganna, at an American Legion dance at the end of WWII in Ontario, CA. Georganna was double dating with her best friend, Dotty, but, as they were leaving, Al heard her ask her date, “Why don’t we ask that soldier to come with us for a coke?” Even as a ‘fifth wheel’, Al was deeply moved at this 15 year old girl’s genuine concern for another’s happiness. This led to a two year courtship followed by almost 70 years of a blissful marriage which produced three children, Kathleen, David, and Margaret, each of whom subsequently had three children.
At the time of his passing, Al had 41 progeny. Georganna preceded Al in death in 2017.
After earning his B.S. in chemistry at Pomona College, as a young married veteran of WWII on the G.I. Bill, Al moved on to the University of Chicago for his Ph.D. Returning to Pomona in 1968, he founded the Medicinal Chemistry Project with his former mentor, Prof. Corwin Hansch. They then founded a corporation, BioByte, specializing in programs and databases for computer-aided drug design. Al authored several books and many papers for scientific journals, in addition to a historical novel, “Too-nu-yah: The Enchanted Valley of Yosemite.” More information about his novel can be found at www.albertleo.com
Al would often private message me to share things he thought were interesting and ask me what I thought about this or that or tell me about his grandkids and great grandkids. I enjoyed our little chats. I was always impressed by the kind words he had for people who were seeking and for his general humble nature. He was truly a lifelong learner, displaying wonder at the world and curiosity about all the big questions until the end of his life. I’ll miss his smiling profile picture.
I too, enjoyed reading Al’s posts here and it seems this might be a fitting place to commemorate some of the “best of Al” for those who want to reflect on and enjoy his contributions. The first one I’ll link to here might have been one of his favorite testimonies since he brought it up more than once: The Miracle of the Panel Truck (this link I think might have been one of the original and complete retellings of that story from a 2015 post of his on this forum.)
But he was also known for all his great rapport (with just about everybody so far as I could ever tell) and his gentle answers. Below I’ll link to some of his “most liked”.
Photos he shared here that he got from his younger daughter:
Sharing about suffering in the world, and his late nephew: Jackie.
And he had many, many more posts that were nearly as much “liked” as the above. If you want to read more of those, you can do like I did to get these: Use the magnifying glass (search) icon - top right of your Wordpress window here), and then in the little search window that opens, click the blue ‘options’ link in it. This opens up expanded search options. In the ‘Posted By’ box type ‘Al’ and then select “Aleo” (who will be 2nd in the dropdowns). Click the blue magnifying glass then to execute the search, and it should show a list of all his posts. Then you can use the ‘sort by’ box to make it show his ‘most liked’ ones (or ‘latest ones’) at the top.
According to that: his very last post would have been on January 8 of this year, and (where else?) but on the immortal Suarez thread.
The above shows that even in these last months of his life he was still sharp as a tack. And yet in all his posts - even while he might be disagreeing with or rebuking somebody; I’m struck by how gentle he always was. It also gives me pause to reflect on how none of us knows here the day or the hour of our own reckoning, and for all we know - what you are posting here now could be the last post we ever see of yours! Would we want our last words here to be some parting “zinger” with which we “stuck it to somebody” with whom we sharply disagree? (Well - okay - maybe some of us would love to go out on just such a note). But Al seems to have been attentive to the Spirit all the way to the end. Blessed is the servant who is faithfully attending to his tasks when found by the suddenly returning Master!
I didn’t know Al except from his exchanges here. And yet just from those, Al brings these verses to mind for me:
“A soft word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
and from the end of Galatians 5 … the fruits of the Spirit:
“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. Based on what I’ve seen of Mr. Leo here - I’m pretty sure he had all of these on full display in his life.
We miss you, brother - and yet we also celebrate with you your glorious Life that continues.
Al Leo was kind in all his interactions with me and, so far as I can recall, to everyone else he interacted with. I appreciated getting his perspective and will miss that now. I’d come across a few quotes from Teilhard de Chardin but the fact that he meant so much to Al makes me want to go read something by him. I wish I’d thought to ask for a recommendation but a good example how easy it is to take the future for granted. If anyone else has a favorite book or piece by that guy, or better yet happen to know a favorite of Al’s, I’d love to know.
Al was a good person and a good Christian too I think. I’m glad he was given so many years. He made good use of them.
Edited to say: I did a little googling and came up with The Divine Milieu; an essay on the interior life (1960) and have it on hold now.
Al brings up Chardin a lot … here is one particular thread where Al discusses some authors including Chardin. It would seem Al’s enthusiasm for him wasn’t entirely without some ambivalence. Apparently he found him a bit “obfuscating” at times.
Thanks Merv. Two recommendations there. Plus I have the book whose title suggests what I tend to be interested in most.
@Merv, reading about Chardin on wiki I noticed he was a French Jesuitpriest, scientist, paleontologist, theologian, philosopher and teacher. He was Darwinian in outlook and the author of several influential theological and philosophical books. … the sort that could be sent on a first mission to an inhabited planet. Also of interest for BioLogos:
His posthumously published book, The Phenomenon of Man , set forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos and the evolution of matter to humanity, to ultimately a reunion with Christ. In the book, Teilhard abandoned literal interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of allegorical and theological interpretations. The unfolding of the material cosmos is described from primordial particles to the development of life, human beings and the noosphere, and finally to his vision of the Omega Point in the future, which is “pulling” all creation towards it. He was a leading proponent of orthogenesis, the idea that evolution occurs in a directional, goal-driven way. Teilhard argued in Darwinian terms with respect to biology, and supported the synthetic model of evolution, but argued in Lamarckian terms for the development of culture, primarily through the vehicle of education. Teilhard made a total commitment to the evolutionary process in the 1920s as the core of his spirituality, at a time when other religious thinkers felt evolutionary thinking challenged the structure of conventional Christian faith. He committed himself to what the evidence showed