A Tribute to a Life Well Lived – Lealon Morris Vassar, June 1943 – November 2017

   Written by on December 1, 2017 at 10:44 am

Submitted by the Family

lealon and grandsThe Vassar’s are not the first family or the last to lose a husband, a father, a grandfather, but this man was a shining light in a family and community lucky enough to have strong leaders and wonderful people who take care of each other.  Charlotte County and the surrounding areas are a different place now without Lealon Morris Vassar.

He was all about family, all about togetherness, all about loving them.  He loved Brenda with all his heart, and they modeled what a beautiful, happy, loyal, solid, funny marriage looks like.  He treated his friends, baseball team families, his children’s friends, his grandchildren’s friends, his logging crews, hunting buddies, all like family.  And that meant high expectations along with the love and support.  He demanded their best effort from those he loved and coached.  He coached baseball many years ago and came out of retirement to coach again when his grandsons became old enough to play. Many boys and girls recall Coach Vassar yelling out onto the field about positioning or paying attention, getting corrected, the hands on hips and head cocked to the right side when they didn’t listen, and then sitting on his knee, the hugs at the end of practice and games, the pride he had in them at every level, and how he told them he loved them.

He didn’t want people to know how much he supported others with a generous heart and spirit.  He and Brenda built businesses together, and with that success they supported many things in Charlotte County and beyond. Lealon loved New Hope United Methodist Church, supporting it with resources, time and talents since 1962.  He served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Administrative Council Chair, Sunday School Superintendent and more.  He and Brenda loved helping girls and boys athletics.  No one knows how many kids are playing baseball, softball, tennis, running cross country, participating in travel ball, shooting basketball, and more with uniforms they provided, travel expenses covered, land for fields, buildings for indoor opportunities, and on and on.  We have come to learn that there seem to be endless people he helped with extra work when they needed it, a hand up during tough times, loan of equipment, a vehicle to drive, maybe most impactfully, a listening ear, advice, and an honest course correction when necessary. A quote from someone these last few days was that he believed in people few others would; he gave second chances to people no one else would.  He and Brenda were so happy to be a part of Sheila Jones’s Truckers Parade Against Cancer.   It was an event near to Dad’s heart, especially with all of the important people in his life in that battle.  He loved that day each year with fellowship combined with raising money for a cure.  He served the county in ways such as three terms on the Equalization Board and through work on redistricting.  He also served as President of Charlotte Country Club.

Dad found great joy in Knock Down Hunt Club.  He loved hunting with dogs, the fellowship that comes with membership and being outdoors.  He was especially concerned that the kids get opportunities to learn safety and have opportunities for a shot.   He was a charter member and served as President since 1972.

All of the things he did for the community and friends, he did tenfold for his family. Lealon and Brenda both had wonderful parents and were the same kind of parents to their children.  Their standards for them were thankfully high growing up and the same for the grandchildren.  But their love, the infinite generosity, the example he set, the work ethic, the selflessness, the loyalty to those we love, the dedication to the Lord, were more than anyone could ever ask to be blessed with. We knew every day how much he and Brenda loved their family. They never had to wonder. They had structure, discipline, time and attention.  They have had this stellar life while he was with them, while he was leading them, and they will try to carry on with that and do more for others themselves.

One doesn’t come this far, have a huge personality, build businesses, know everyone, coach sports, and have many leadership roles without some missteps.  That being said, Lealon modeled some other critical traits for us.  He knew how to apologize.  He knew how to reach out to make amends, to put his arm around a person and try to work it out.  For the good of other people he has made apologies and offered an olive branch whether he was wrong or not.   He had a huge capacity for forgiveness that some of us need to work on.

So how to tolerate this gut-wrenching pain of his absence?  His family will rely on our faith in God and picture him in heaven in his body at 18 years old doing things he loved.  Shooting basketball, playing baseball, golfing again with his Father, swimming in the ocean with his Mother, playing tennis in the sunshine, walking any size tract of timber, killing the biggest deer and being able to “drag fast and get out of here” himself, and handle the dogs alone early on a cold morning on the deer-hunting first drive of the day.

Shannon said…to close I steal a few words from cousins Lindsay Webb and Lisa Back, “He was a man among men, larger than life, with a ready laugh, a heart wide open and a stalwart spirit that was steady and true.  Every time we are generous, honest, loving and kind your precious Dad will be living on in each of us whose lives he shaped and influenced. We will never forget him.”

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