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Leo Frederic Weisbender Ph.D.

1933 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Leo Frederic Weisbender Ph.D. Obituary
June 8, 1933 - May 23, 2016 Leo Frederic Weisbender, son of Mary Violet Juanita Weisbender (Green) and Leo Frederic Weisbender, and husband of Sheri Kay Weisbender, passed away from a pulmonary embolism on May 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, surrounded by family. He was an outstanding human being and is dearly missed. The oldest of four children, Leo was born at home in Manhattan, Kansas, grew up dirt-floor poor, and lost his father at age four. His sister, Mary Irene Straub (Weisbender) was born a few months later, and his brothers Robert Mark and Timothy Mark followed. A few years later, Leo and his family moved to Long Beach, California. In 1947, he began attending St. Anthony's Seminary at Mission Santa Barbara, where he entered the Novitiate in 1952 and joined the Order of Friars Minor. Leo was tremendously appreciative of the classical education he received there, and later earned his Bachelor's degree from Mission San Luis Rey and his Master's degree from Loyola Marymount University. Leo earned his PhD, in both educational and clinical psychology, from his beloved University of Southern California in 1969. Despite tremendous hardships as a child, Leo took no pity upon himself, and refused to accept any from others. Leo had as varied a career as a man can have. He sold appliances at Sears, parked cars at Disneyland, rode the desolate Irvine ranchland checking power stations for Edison, and sold bait on the San Pedro docks. Leo dedicated himself to educating the minds of all from grade school children to doctoral candidates. In his youth, he was a school teacher and assistant principal. He was an Assistant Director of the Research and Evaluation division of LAUSD, analyzing the impact of educational programs. As a Professor of Psychology and the Dean of Academic Affairs with the California Graduate Institute, Leo guided doctoral candidates through the gauntlet of dissertation proposals, research, drafting, and defense, and quite literally wrote the book on the subject. He later consulted for the National Science Foundation on educational initiatives. Leo's professional accomplishments took a backseat, however, to his family. He firmly believed that a person's occupation does not define him, but rather the person's character expressed through relationships with family. Leo had four wonderful children by the time he was 31. He married the love of his life, Sheri Weisbender, on January 22, 1977. In doing so he gained a stepson, and Leo and Sheri later had a son together. He once described Sheri as "everything I'm not," took every opportunity to show her that he loved her, and cherished his time with her. Leo would later enjoy the company of his six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. Leo was an astute linguist, and each of his children shudder upon seeing an apostrophe used recklessly to create a plural, the phrase "chomping at the bit" cheaply used instead of "champing at the bit," or the insulting mispronunciation of zoologist as "zoo-ologist." Why would others care what you say, if you didn't care enough to say it correctly, and with some reasoning and forethought? For the same reason, if you ever asked him a question, he would wait several seconds before responding so he could think of an answer, consider it, and revise as needed, before speaking. This was the hallmark of a man who chose his words carefully. Leo wrote and spoke four languages fluently, including Latin. His writing was absolutely legendary. May Heaven help you if you ended up on the wrong side of a letter-sized sheet of watermarked linen paper, emblazoned with those tactile impressions of a Courier element ball, and particularly if he signed it "Dr. Leo Weisbender." His quick, dry wit was undeniable, turning the tables before you even knew you had been sitting at a table. But, he was always kind enough to help you find your seat again. His chess skills were superior, but his attitude was not. Leo's exaggerated humility was one of his most endearing qualities. In the triumphs and tragedies of life, there was no more sound and comforting counsel than Leo's. When he spoke, it was true, good, and honest. Leo was a devout Catholic and believed that God gave us each the gift of the Holy Spirit-a force within each of us that fortifies strength and gives divine guidance and encouragement. So too, Leo is a force within those that knew and loved him. Leo is survived, loved, and dearly missed by his wife Sheri Weisbender; his children Chris (Ninette) Weisbender, Mary Barros (Weisbender), Mark Weisbender, Eric Weisbender, and Derek (Melissa) Weisbender; his stepson David Hartley; his grandchildren Matthew (Kari) Barros, Charis Raine, Jaclyn (Jon) Persson, Brooke (Cole) Weisbender Wadsworth, Taylor Weisbender, and Ryland Weisbender; his great-grandchildren Breydon Raine, Giselle Wadsworth, and Lily Persson; and his brother Robert (Sheila) Mark. Leo was preceded by his parents, his sister Mary Straub, and his brother Timothy Mark. Services were held at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, on June 2, 2016. Donations may be made in Leo's memory to the USC Rossier School of Education, In Memory of Dr. Leo Weisbender, 3470 Trousdale Parkway, Waite Phillips Hall Suite 1103D, Los Angeles, California 90089-0031. In recent years, Leo stopped saying "goodbye" when he finished a phone conversation, and instead he would say "until next time" or "bye for now," explaining that "goodbye" was simply too final. So: We do not say goodbye, we say we love you, until next time, and bye for now.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from July 14 to July 17, 2016
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