In Memory

Roger Leon

Roger Leon

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11/02/16 06:54 PM #1    

Mark Goldhamer (Weiss)

Roger's memory comments shouldn't be empty.  Roger and I were best friends from when I moved to the city from the suburbs (Pleasant Hills) in 5th grade.  It's true that as I got involved in college (CMU) and then graduate school (didn't get a PhD or MS though), I kept in touch with Roger less and less.  There was no "falling out" or anything.  But I won't dwell on this.  Seems just like you're required to give background -- otherwise whoever is reading doesn't know where you're coming from.

Now, more importantly, I can say this about Roger: I should have learned from him just how nice it is for folks when one is more gregarious.  I was more easy-going back then compared to now (but more shy too).  But I always did admire Roger for his concern for others.  My favorite thing in is how I can still remember talking to Roger on the phone in my kitchen.  Roger said of a party he had:  "I was the perfect host:  I said a little bit to everyone and nothing to anybody."  That's worthy of Mark Twain or Bartlett's quotations.  (And in fact, a very great many years ago I wrote it into the copy of the Bartlett's book my parents got me for graduation.)

But I shouldn't make it sound like "It's a shame I didn't learn more from Roger."  Or "It's a shame I didn't keep in touch after highschool so much and then way less after college."  I did see him some.  But I'll tell you this:  from 5th grade and thru all of highschool Roger was great.  I mean even the cheeriness we shared recording (on crappy tape recorders) and sharing TV theme songs, guessing the TV show.  Just stuff like that.  Roger enhanced those sorts of things.

I saw a card with a Basset Hound licking his chops (probably they fed it peanut butter I'm guessing) and the caption reads:  "He has spent his life best who has enjoyed it most."  Samuel Butler.  But the person could so easily have been Roger Leon.  And since I have that card, that means Roger and I shared such a sentiment.  Perhaps most young folks do.  But Roger made sure others were feeling it too. 

For friends and family I hope at least just a dribble of cheer has entered you from reading what I wrote.  I wish you all well.  -- Mark Goldhamer (Weiss) 

06/22/17 01:15 PM #2    

Greg Marcopoulos

In Roger's obituary he was called a "mensch".  Truer words have not been spoken.  When my family moved to Squirrel Hill in 1971, I met Gregg Leon (Roger's younger brother) while playing ball on my street.  A few days later I met Roger, and as they say the rest is history.
Roger and I remained best of friends until the day he passed.  We shared many of the same interests.  We both collected comic books, but nobody surpassed Roger in that field.  We both also had a fondness for classic tv shows.  More on that later.  I introduced Roger to jazz music.  That leads me to Friday nights...
Friday nights were guys night out.  Saturday's were left open for date night with the girls...if we were lucky.
Fridays would consist of either bowling, going to a Pirates game or going to a jazz club or a jazz concert.  I got Roger so hooked on jazz that after we bought some cd's we would each pick out our favorite tunes from each one and put them on a single tape or a cd and label it "Jazz Mix".  We got up to "Jazz Mix XII" before Roger died (and so did the Jazz Mixes).  
After leaving the jazz clubs we would drive around aimlessly just so we could blast our Jazz Mix until about 2 or 3am. or until we got hungry enough for breakfast at either Ritter's or Eat 'n Park before going home to walk his beloved dog Lucky.  During that walk we would challenge each other with a game we created called "I'm thinking of a tv show".  We would think of a classic tv show and the other would ask ten questions before attempting to guess the show.  Hey at 3:00am, it was a fun game, trust me...and Lucky didn't mind.
Roger and I were close, I mean he literally lived around the corner from me.  If the weather was too bad to drive anywhere, he would come over to my house knowing that Mom would have a plate of his favorite Greek cookies waiting for him.  I was lucky if I ended up with one.  We would challenge each other to...what else?...classic TV game show board games.  When it came to pop culture, we were a couple of guys stuck in the 50's, 60's and 70's.
That's just a small sample of my best friend and mensch, Roger Leon.  R.I.P.
Greg Marcopoulos

06/23/17 05:02 PM #3    

Mark Goldhamer (Weiss)

I already gave my memorial comments. I'm writing again because what Greg Marcopoulos wrote was just so beautiful.  Thank you for sharing Greg.  Although I'm a technical person, I have taken an interest in fiction writing and there's a superbly good course in The Great Courses series that was on all the considerations in producing good fiction -- including the cliché "show, don't tell."  Well, GREG, what you wrote was TREMENDOUSLY EVOCATIVE.  You did a great service to Roger.  But also something else too -- for me at least.  With the very hectic life of Washington DC (where many Pittsburghers left for work) and all the myriad incumbencies, expenses, hours-a-day spent in traffic, passive-agressiveness as the most popular hobby, your evocation of LIFE in Pittsburgh with Roger -- well I won't mince words:  it has me jealous.  In any case, it was simply and truly beautiful.  Greg: you would do great stuff with that fiction writing course.  Your writing about you and Roger is amongst my favorites of all writings.  Very well done.  Thanks again, Greg.  -- Mark

06/25/17 07:56 PM #4    

Greg Marcopoulos

Mark, thank you for the kind words.  Actually I was concerned that my tribute was too "inside".  I'm glad you thought it was befitting of our good friend.  What I didn't mention was that it wasn't always just Roger and me. We quite often had a third and fourth person in our Friday night "guys night".  Since everybody didn't fancy jazz, a movie would be in order.  I'm sure if you were local, you would have been a regular.
I do remember you coming over to my house for game night with Roger.  I also remember coming over to your house for some schooling in backgammon.  I fathom that you are still a master backgammonist.

Have a fun time at the reunion.  I will be out of town, so I'll miss it.

06/26/17 12:23 PM #5    

Mark Goldhamer (Weiss)

Hi Greg: 

Hope nobody minds us "talking" at this place.  But I guess it is kind of like the times were.  Your memorial comments were not at all "too iniside".  Real and genuine and, like I said, quite evocative -- in a totally good way.  I think you could be quite a good fiction writer if that interested you.  If you never heard of them check out The Great Courses.  Both DVD and CD are available.  Some only DVD, but the fiction writing course is available as either one.  Unlike in DC though, you don't spend 3 hours a day driving to and from work so you probably don't need a CD for something to do all that time.  Such is the lifestyle difference.  As far as interests though, you're right, definitely am a master backgammon player.  Serveral cool things there, but I won't take up this space on that. 

Thanks for writing more.  Sorry I'll miss you at the reunion, but I have booked both a few days before and a couple days after.  I don't know whom I'll be visiting.  A bit of family maybe.  Another maybe is friend from Pleasant Hills before I moved to Squirrel Hill.  Who knows, maybe you and I.

And really:  what you wrote was wonderful in every way.  And not just that evocative literary thing that impressed me so much.  It was totally appropriate.  Have no worry there.  -- Mark

06/29/17 01:17 AM #6    

Greg Marcopoulos

I'm sure Roger is saying, "hey, this is my page".  Mark, I have received the Great Courses catalog, and I thank you for your generous accolades, but I really have no ambition in writing.  You obviously are a proficient writer (you had nice words for Roger) and should pursue it.  

I do remember those "round robin" backgammon tournaments.  It seems like you kept your seat while Roger and I "round robinned".  How about a book on how to master backgammon, Mark?

I also remember the mini golf.  There I held my own.  But here's where you jarred my memory.  The rides to and from mini golf consisted of movie trivia.  If I'm not mistaken, you instituted that.  Am I correct?

Did you bowl in the Kokomo Kids league at the Forward Lanes?

Thanks for bringing back those good memories.



04/21/20 06:12 PM #7    

Joel Sokolsky

I just recently created an account on this website, and stumbled upon the "In Memory" page almost by accident. I had thought that the only person I would recognize on this page was Louis Joseph, having only been made aware of his passing earlier this year (2020), and as I scrolled down, it became apparent that that was the case (I didn't really know all that many people at Allderdice, being a pretty shy kid back then.) But then I saw another face that struck me as very familiar. I am not certain that if the name "Roger Leon" came up in conversation, that I would have really registered any familiatiry, but seeing his face oh the website next to his name, produced instant recognition, and gave me a chill, knowing that he was gone so young.

I did not spend any significant time with Roger outside of school, but I know that he was more than an acquaintance with a few of my friends, notibly David and Mark. But in school I do recall him as a very kind soul, a soft spoken and polite guy, if memory serves me well. I'm not sure what compels me to comment here in this "memory" section, as I have no specific, solid, memories of Roger to share, and yet, given that kind people sometimes seem to be at a premium, and that I felt that momentary shock in finding him on this particular page of the website, it seemed necessary to mention that I remembered him and am saddened to know that he is no longer with us.

04/22/20 08:05 AM #8    

Mark Goldhamer (Weiss)

I've already written about Roger and Gregory Marcopoulus' wonderful writing about he and Roger.  What Joel wrote prompts me to write just one more thing.  Here it is rather than saving it for after quoting Joel.  In a phone call with Roger after a party, here is what Roger said:

I was the perfect host:  I said a little bit to everyone and nothing to anybody.

By this, Roger meant -- and I understood him instantly -- he spent time conversing with everyone, leaving nobody out and said not a bad thing (or anything that could even be construed as such) during all his time talking with everyone.   So what Joel wrote is so true:

... I do recall him as a very kind soul, a soft spoken and polite guy... given that kind people sometimes seem to be at a premium...

As I commented to Joel's posting on Louis Joseph's memory page, I think we Pittsburgher's are so very genuine in our experiences and sentiments on reflecting upon them.  Thanks once again Joel.  You knew Roger so well (it seems) even if you didn't know him.  I knew him from 5th grade on (when I moved to the city from Pleasant Hills).  Hope you enjoyed his quote.  That is literally verbatim.  It should be in a book of quotations.

04/22/20 03:30 PM #9    

Joel Sokolsky

Mark, are you still in, or close to, Pittsburgh? If I manage to get in to town this year (or, if not this year, anytime,) and I look David up, to get together, can/should we contact you as well? Would that be okay?

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