EMPORIUM - Leslie "Les" Geelen, age 94, of Old West Creek Road, Emporium, died Friday (Sept. 30, 2016) in Emporium. Born July 21, 1922, in Rathburn, Pa., he was the son of Patrick and Jenny Skillman Geelen and was formerly married to Betty Spellenburg.
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A lifelong area resident, he was a 1940 graduate of Emporium High School. He was hired at Sylvania in July 1940, working at various positions including production supervisor and general foreman, and at the time of his retirement from Sylvania/GTE/Phillips in 1983 was in the Traffic Department as supervisor of trucking.
In 1943, he joined the U.S. Army, and started a military career spanning over a decade with tours of duty during World War II in North Africa, Italy and France, and a period in the Army Reserves. He was recalled to duty in Korea, but the war ended just days before his scheduled deployment. He was promoted several times during World War II culminating with the rank of first lieutenant. During the war he was notorious for always being in the front line in nearly every battle. He was the most highly decorated veteran from Cameron County, and his courage and heroism earned him a Purple Heart, numerous Bronze Star Medals, and a Silver Star for Valor in combat.
Les was a member of the First Baptist Church in Emporium, was a past Shippen Township tax collector and formerly served as a Cameron County Commissioner. For many years he served on the board of directors of the Guy and Mary Felt Manor. He was a lifetime member of the Emporium Country Club, and a 70 plus-year member of VFW Post #6221, and American Legion Post #194.
His life was enriched by two daughters, Patti Kelly and husband Kim of Cupertino, Calif., and Jean M. Sizer of Emporium; one sister, Annabelle Bloomquist of Clinton, N.Y.; four grandchildren, Steven Kelly, Suzanne Kelly, Daniel Sizer and Sarah Sizer; one great-grandson, Bradley Lukaschunis, a special treasure in his later years; and his special friend, Jean Ann Mitchell of Altoona, all of whom survive him, as well as many nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by two brothers, James David Geelen and an infant brother Harold; and one sister, Frances Mix Grimone.
His life of service to his country, service to his community and the support of his family and many friends at their time of need is an example to all of a great American, great father and great friend. "Papa" will be sorely missed by all who knew and love him.
The family will receive friends from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Coppersmith-Condon Funeral Home, Emporium, where funeral and committal services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday with the Rev. Joseph Short, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Emporium, officiating. Burial will follow in Moore Hill Cemetery, Emporium.
Memorials, if desired, may be made to the Moore Hill Cemetery Association; VFW Post #6221; or Cameron County Memorial Detail.
Coppersmith-Condon Funeral Home
6 West 6th Street
Emporium, PA 15834
Published in The Bradford Era from Oct. 3 to Oct. 10, 2016