REEDVILLE—Leon Stallings of Reedville died on March 13, 2017, after a brief illness. He died surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren. He had recently celebrated his 91st birthday.
Leon was born February 5, 1926, and lived the first half of his life in South Jersey. His parents, Annie Bickerstaff and Richard Holliday Stallings, were originally from Richmond but had moved to the North during the Great Depression in search of work.
Leon loved to tell stories of his growing up years with five brothers and one sister in a boisterous group who did not understand that they were poor. He developed a love for sports, especially baseball, which led to pitching for a farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He loved fishing, playing the trombone and chemistry experiments.
Leon was the legendary kid who almost blew up his house, himself and others (his sister) with his various experiments in the attic. He had a garden even as a child and he sold flowers from a wagon he pulled throughout the neighborhood in Haddonfield. He made money as a teenager as a very fast picker of vegetables and fruit in the truck farms of South Jersey. This work was also considered to be part of the war effort.
When he was 18, two days after his high school graduation in 1944, Leon signed up for the U.S. Army Air Corps as an aerial gunner. He loved to tell people his stories and one of his favorites was that both Germany and Japan quit the war when they heard he was coming. The morning before he was to board the ship for Europe, the war ended there; and when he had the orders in his hand to begin deployment to Japan, the Japanese surrendered.
He was sent to Tokyo during the occupation and spent his “war time” in Japan marching with his trombone in the Air Force Band and playing baseball on a team with many former major and minor league players.
After the war, Leon graduated from LaSalle College in Philadelphia with a degree in chemistry. He worked as a carpenter and a teacher and finally as a research chemist for the Navy. He developed lubricants and hydraulic fluids for naval aircraft. He enjoyed traveling throughout the world to meetings of a committee of NATO which developed standardization specifications for products used in NATO planes.
Leon liked to say that when he was already 40, things changed: Susan entered the story. Theirs was an unusual match, with an age difference of 21 and ½ years, a World War II vet marrying a hippie of the sixties, but they were very compatible and became a devoted couple who went on to have seven children.
In 1985, Leon retired and they moved from Easton, Pa., to Reedville. Except for a short time working as a consultant at the lubricant lab at Patuxent River Naval Base, Leon devoted the rest of his life to raising his family. He and Susan continued to choose the road less travelled with homeschooling their kids from 1983 until they entered college, and with hosting over 60 exchange students from all over the world. Leon delighted in the doings of all these young people in his house and passed on his love of gardening, sports, fishing and music. When he was in his 70s he took up golf to play with his children and golf was a sport he enjoyed until shortly before his death.
The most important thing in Leon’s life was his Christian faith. His faith guided his life from his early years and he was a man who always strived to do what is right. His example spoke for him and he passed his faith on to his wife and his children. They were praying the rosary at his bedside when he died.
Leon is survived by his much-loved wife of 44 years, Susan Redd Stallings, and a sister Mary Taney of New Jersey and a brother Joseph Stallings of Statesville, North Carolina. He has 29 nieces and nephews.
His pride and joy are his children, Ben Stallings, Jenny Stallings Flores, Will Stallings, Laura Stallings Moore, John Stallings, Aleksey Mironov, and Joe Stallings. His sons live in the Northern Neck and his daughters now live in Richmond. He has five much loved in-law children, Lisa Robichaud Stallings, Andres Flores, Janice Walker Stallings, Tres Moore, Charlotte Forrester Mironov, and (soon to be married to Joseph) Sarah Hartung.
He lived to know 13 grandchildren, Maria Stallings, Henry Moore, Leo Stallings, Peter Stallings, Claire Moore, Gabriel Stallings, Lydia Moore, Nathan Stallings, Juliette Stallings, Jack Moore, William Stallings Jr., Teresa Flores and Anton Mironov. He is expecting another grandson to be born this week.
All who knew Leon were touched by his simple, kind, honest, faithful, generous and very hard-working character. He was a man of his memorable generation. The values he passed on to his children are his lasting legacy.
A wake will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. There will be a funeral mass for Leon at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Kilmarnock at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 24, followed by a reception in the church hall with a time for sharing memories from his family and friends. Burial will be later at Susan’s family cemetery in Hanover County. Memorials may be sent to any charity of your choice.