Leon Day Death is a friend, it will come like sleep, Softly, profoundly and blessedly deep. Quieting, comforting, all for the best, Effort renounced in the wonder of rest. Yielding...drifting...being at peace While the pulse wanes and the waverings cease. This you will know when you come to the end: Death is compassionate. Death is a friend. -Bonnie Day Leon Day, 67, of Austin died on October 28, 2011. Born in Mobile, Alabama on April 22, 1944 to Oscar Day and poet Bonnie Day, Leon was raised in a tradition of activism and intellectual inquiry. In 1961, he made his way to the Cuban Embassy in Toronto, Ontario to offer his services in defending Cuba from the US-sponsored invasion. The 17-year-old's offer was not accepted. After joining the US Army in 1963, he was put to work on the Nike missile project. His military career ended in 1966 when he outed himself as a member of organizations on the Attorney General's "subversive" list and filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the list. His discharge was honorable. The list was abolished in 1974. Leon spent the late 1960s and early 1970s in political organizing, as a member of the Trotskyist Spartacist League, in New Orleans, Austin, and Hoboken, working with his wife, Juanita "Nedy" Rogers. Never one to submit to orthodoxy in any form, Leon withdrew from the group in the mid-seventies. His marriage lasted only a few years longer, although he and Nedy remained close until her death in 1992. By the 1980s, Leon, living in Houston, had met the painter Mary Long and begun research that was to be his life's work. During fifteen years in Oakland, then another ten in Austin, he delved, wrote, and generally raised hell on topics as diverse as Texas history, ballistics, women in early aviation, and the disappearance of Ambrose Bierce. He is survived by his loving companion of 26 years Mary Day Long, in-laws John and Laurie Long, Nikki Long, and nephew Sean Long, all of Austin, five cats, at least one mental mistress, and many friends, enemies, and admirers. In the words of his brother-in-law, "He's now looking up at us, and smiling."
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Apr. 22, 2012.