Written words cannot adequately describe the remarkable life of Dr. Leon MacIntosh Ellis Jr., survived by his beautiful wife, Ann, his four children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The stories and accolades of a life well lived would fill volumes.
Leon was a devoted husband, family man and friend to all. His generous and compassionate demeanor was evident in the pride and joy that he had in his family, his civic and military service, and his professionalism as a dentist and professor. But his true love was his soulmate and best friend of 70-plus years, his wife Ann, whom he met when he was 10 years old and married in the 1950s after his service in the Air Force.
Leon was born in Australia, the youngest of three children. His visionary father, who established and served as the first minister of forestry for the country of New Zealand, passed away at a young age, resulting in the family's relocating to California. A modest young man—until it came to athletics, where he dominated with action instead of words—Leon was a dynamic force as a star catcher with a desire to be a professional baseball player. He was an unstoppable quarterback (Headlines of the LA Times sports section one week: "Leon Ellis, The Greatest Quarterback Since Frankie Albert"). This changed when the Korean War started.
During the war, Leon served in the Air Force as a talented machinist. His natural creativity and insight on how to get the job done was the forerunner to his professional and athletic accomplishments after the war. His time of service took him through Europe and North Africa with Morocco and Casablanca stations during his tour of duty. Baseball not forgotten, Leon was the captain of the USAF baseball team, competing throughout Europe. Honored to serve and a true patriot, Leon had a love for the United States that was undeniable as he firmly believed there was no greater country on earth.
Post-war found Leon graduating with honors from the USC School of Dentistry, where in addition to his private practice he continued as a professor in the dental college. Ann graduated as a dental hygienist, so they were able to collaborate and practice together professionally. Starting their family in 1958 and ultimately having four children together, they remained in Southern California for over 30 years.
“Retirement” brought Leon and Ann to the Sun Valley, Idaho, area to embark on a new set of adventures, including building the home of their dreams. Leon, a true outdoorsman, embraced the challenges the mountains offered. And when Leon’s feet weren’t on the ground, they were up in the air, as a pilot and aircraft owner, rising above the hustle and bustle of life in his favorite Mooney airplane. His talents, passions and leadership built the solid foundation followed today by Leon’s family—accomplished athletes, pilots and professionals in their own rights.
In addition to competing in over 12 marathons, hiking, skiing and exploring the mountains, Leon found fulfillment through service to others. Having been raised at the end of the Great Depression, Leon felt it was always better to give than to receive. In giving back, Leon spent his lifetime serving on countless boards, committees and organizations, having served as president for Kiwanis, YMCA, Young Republicans, USC Dental Alumnae Association and Glendale Academy of Dentists, just to mention a few. Locally, Leon was passionate about Higher Ground, The American Legion, Kiwanis International, the YMCA, Boy Scouts of America, youth athletics and the Presbyterian Church.
Leon was celebrated by a private family service at Ketchum Cemetery with the USAF military honors ceremony with the American Flag folding and the playing of taps, and Pastor Mark Inouye presiding. A hike of remembrance on his favorite mountain trail was then followed by a gathering of love, stories and solace at his favorite restaurant. Leon is home now with our Lord and in the loving arms of his father, mother and two sisters. Leon will be forever missed, will always be in our hearts and until we meet again, WE LOVE YOU DAD!