Leonard William Simon was born in Maramec, Oklahoma on October 18, 1932 to Bill and Beulah Simon. He grew up with his older sister, Lawanda and little brother, Vern. As a young boy, Leonard developed an unusual talent to throw rocks with precision. One such notable story was when a woman from Oklahoma Baptist University came to visit Leonard's mother. She drove up to dogs barking and kids approaching. Leonard's siblings and cousins asked her if she wanted to see Leonard throw. She agreed and was soon impressed by witnessing a crow knocked off a fence post by a stone from Leonard's rocket fire left arm. The lady then said, "Goodness, you could play baseball for OBU one day."
After graduating high school in 1950, Leonard began walking to Shawnee, Oklahoma to play baseball at OBU. He was soon on full scholarship as a pitcher for the Bisons. His teammates all had nicknames. Leonard's was " Simp" as in Simple Simon. Several major league teams contacted Leonard to pitch for their teams. Claude Jonnard, a scout for the New York Giants, sought Leonard's arm but his reply was, "Well, what I really want to do is just go back home and see my mama."
Instead of pursuing a baseball career, Leonard enlisted into the army from 1955 to 1957. Once completing his time in the service, he took a school teaching job in Morton, Texas where he met Velda Baldridge, the cutest girl he had ever seen. Once newlyweds, the lovebirds flew back to make a life in Oklahoma, eventually landing in Cleveland in 1965 where Leonard taught sixth grade. They and their three children made their permanent home six miles west of town where Leonard lived to be 89 until his peaceful passing with Velda at his side at 1:50pm Friday June 3, 2022.
"Mr. Simon" was a comical, creative teacher, principal and counselor during his almost 30 years in the Cleveland Elementary school system. He was a practical joker, a teaser and consistently ornery, making for decades of smiles, laughter and silly surprises. His personality also followed him to church where he and his family were devoted members of Cleveland First Baptist Church where he was an active deacon. Leonard and Velda also attended Western Heights Baptist and Terlton First Baptist. Leonard will be missed and remembered as an icon of Cleveland.
Survivors are his wife Velda of the home, three children Pam Davis and her husband Rick of Guthrie, Oklahoma, Billy Simon of Nashville, Tennessee, Sheryl Guinn of Cleveland, Oklahoma; twelve grandchildren, fifteen great grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends. Leonard was preceded in death by his parents William and Beulah Simon, two siblings LaWanda Bejcek, Vern Simon and one granddaughter Brooke Nicole Guinn.
Visitation will be on Monday, June 6, 2022, from 5:00 pm till 7:00 pm at the Chapman-Black Funeral Home; memorial services will be held on Monday, June 20, 2022, 11:00 am, at the First Baptist Church in Cleveland with Pastor Marty Brock officiating. Private burial will be held in the Lawson Cemetery at Yale, Oklahoma. Chapman-Black Funeral Home will be handling the arrangements. Friends and family may visit an online guest book and memorial page for Leonard at www.chapman-black.com.