Leon West, 88, McKinney, Texas and formerly of Portage, Indiana died peacefully supported by family on January 4, 2023.
Born and raised in Luxora, Arkansas he was one of 6 children. Leon is survived by his wife Beverly West (Calvert) of 66 years marriage. He is survived by his daughters Kerri Nelson (Craig), Kathy Maehling (Bob), and son Ken West (Ann) and by six grandchildren: Blake Nelson (Jessica), Paige Nelson (Ryan), Andrew Schneider (Megan), Claire West, Duncan West, and Lou West and by three great grandchildren: Lydia Schneider, Scarlett Schneider and James Nelson. He cherished his family.
Leon was known for his strong work ethic and unwavering devotion to his community. He was deeply proud of his service in the United States Army from 1957-1959 (Fort Lee, VA) and again from 1961-1962 (El Paso, TX). He started his forty-two-year career in United States Steel Company in Gary, Indiana rising eventually to General Foreman of the US Steel Machine Shop, one of the largest in this country at the time.
Leon served on the Portage City Council for eighteen years as well as the Portage Board of Zoning Appeals, Porter County Council, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board, among others.
Leon was widely revered by his party as a fundamental part of the success of the Democratic Party in Porter County. He was a Democratic precinct committeeman in Portage when it was incorporated as a city in 1968 and is consider as one of the main founders. Leon served as the Porter County Democratic Chairman from 1994 to 2007 and as First District Chairman for the State of Indiana. He was instrumental in many people becoming active locally, regardless of their party. He took a person-to-person approach to politics from knocking on doors to involving as many people as possible eventually helping to unite democrats in the Porter County Region. Leon was thrilled to serve as a delegate for numerous Democratic National Conventions.
In addition to Leon’s civil service, he also was a devoted volunteer. Leon was a member of the Portage Jaycees, The Exchange Club, Dunes Lodge #741 and the Shriners. He was a forming member of a local homeless shelter for women and their children, Gabriel’s Horn, which is still in existence today serving unhoused women in Porter County.
In 1997 Leon was awarded the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash (the highest honor of the state) by the late governor Frank O’Bannon of Indiana in recognition of his volunteerism.
Leon embraced life and family with enthusiasm. In 2007 Leon and his wife moved to McKinney Texas to be closer to family. His caring spirit went with him. He volunteered with Meals on Wheels, tutored second graders and was active in the Kiwanis Club in McKinney. His grandchildren each endured his fun teasing (biting of toes), chasing and laughter. He was often seen in the front row of sporting events and marveled at each of their accomplishments. He was known for his smile, laughter, and wit. When Leon entered a room with a smile, he left others with a smile on their faces. He will be remembered as a loyal and loving husband, a loving and supportive father, a dear and warm grandfather, a mentor, and good friend to many.
A remembrance and celebration will be held Saturday March 4 at 1:00, at Creekwood United Methodist Church, 261 Country Club, Allen, Texas 75002. He will be cremated and buried at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation Gabriel Horn’s Homeless Shelter (gabrielshelter.org/donate-now--contact-us - PO Box 943, Portage, IN 46368 – 219.364.8018) or Creekwood United Methodist Church (creekwoodumc.org/give/ - 214.544.8050)