Long time Muskingum County community and civic leader and Zanesville attorney Leon L. Levion died at 3:15 AM on Thursday, April 18, 2019. He was 90 years old.
The inscription on the plaque Leon received from the Village of Roseville upon his retirement as its City Solicitor in 2015 is an apt encapsulation of the great impact he brought to this region: “For his remarkable and dedicated service to our Municipality for over 50 years. The intelligence you conveyed improved our way of living and the humor you shared improved our life. Roseville will be indebted to you for eternity.”
Leon was born on April 21, 1928 in Columbus and raised in Corning, Ohio by his parents, the late Marcel and Bertha Eichenbaum Levion. He began his higher education at the University of Chicago in 1944 at age 16 under its Robert Hutchins plan which accepted high school students after their sophomore year and matriculated them through four years of college. He was a member of the University of Chicago’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
He enlisted with the U.S. Army as a private in August, 1946, serving in the First Cavalry Division, 7th Cavalry Regiment in occupation of Tokyo, Japan from November, 1946 until November, 1947. His duties included guarding of the Emperor’s Palace and editor of The Hitching Post, a weekly paper for the troops of the Seventh Cavalry. On his voyage home, he continued his editorial duties by transcribing and disseminating the daily news radioed in for the servicemen aboard his ship.
After completing his military duty, Leon returned to the University of Chicago to finish his education, earning his B.A. in 1949 and JD in 1952.
Leon married his college sweetheart, Marilyn Bernice Kolber, on September 5, 1952 and moved to Cleveland to begin his legal career with the Louisville Title Company. By 1954, desiring to live in a smaller city where they could have a greater impact on their community, they relocated to Zanesville.
Leon and Marilyn raised three children: Hilarie (born 1957), Martin (born 1960) and Beth (born 1962, died 1988). Marilyn died in 1988. He married Pauline Morgan in 1997.
His Zanesville legal career began as a member of Graham, Graham, Gottlieb and Johnston in 1954. He worked with them until 1966 before establishing an independent office in downtown Zanesville. He conducted a general law practice for the next 49 years, retiring at age 87 in December, 2015, having shared offices and services over the years with Jim Stubbins, Jon Cassady and Mark Fleegle, among others. The Muskingum County Bar Association honored him at their January 29, 2016 meeting “for 60 years of Professionalism and Collegiality to the Bar and Service to the Citizens of Southeastern Ohio.” He was also recognized in April, 2017 by the Ohio State Bar Association for his many decades of service as an attorney and counselor of law.
Leon was admitted to practice before the lower federal courts in December 1955 and before the U.S. Supreme Court in March 1958. One of the most renowned cases he tried and won was before the Ohio Court of Appeals, Fifth District: Yommer, Appellee, v. Outdoor Enterprises, Inc.; Polaris Industries, L.P., Appellant, decided on March 20, 1998 where the Court upheld Appellee’s assertion that its purchased ATV is subject to Ohio’s Lemon Law.
Leon was a true public servant, active civically, politically and charitably for most of his life. In a January 1970 article for the Zanesville Times Recorder, he mentioned that his interest in political and public affairs came from having family members who have served as Mayor, Postmaster and President of the School Board in Corning.
He was appointed to be City Solicitor for Corning starting in 1954, continuing in that post for decades, South Zanesville (1960 to 1968), Zanesville (1970 to 1974), Roseville (1968 to 2015), Dresden (three years), as well as Fultonham. In 1994, he was appointed Zanesville Assistant Law Director. He was also the 10th Ward committeeman and special assistant to the Attorney General of Ohio. He was an agent for Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. and was featured in a 1979 Ohio Land Title Association Title Topics newsletter for his work searching and certifying title ownership to the right-of-way under the abandoned Penn Central Branch line.
Leon founded and served as the President of the Muskingum County Young Democrats in 1963 and served as Chairman of the Muskingum County Democratic Party (1964 to 1966; then 1978 to 1999). Before that, he held various posts in the Muskingum County Democratic Party, including as its Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee, and many years on the Muskingum County Board of Elections. He was a delegate to the Ohio Democratic Convention in 1978 and Ohio Democratic Platform Committee (1964). He was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, NJ in 1964. He made an unsuccessful bid for Probate Judge in 1966.
Leon’s community involvement was extensive. He devoted long volunteer and social hours to many causes and organizations. He was a frequent speaker, emcee and toastmaster at local clubs and events in the region. He served as Chairman on numerous Jaycee charitable projects, and as its President in 1960. Over the years, he participated in fundraising for the March of Dimes, United Fund, Boy Scouts and Easter Seals, among others. He maintained memberships with the Elks Club, Eagles Lodge, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Exchange Club. He was a member of the Muskingum County Tuberculosis Association Board of Directors. He served on the City Civil Service Commission, Junior Chamber of Commerce, as well as later on the Zanesville Chamber of Commerce. He was an associate of the Muskingum County Farm Bureau. His participation with the the Muskingum County Bar Association included, at various times, being its secretary and president. He was special counsel for the Veterans Administration from 1956 to 1968, as well as president of the Zanesville Muskingum County Council of Parents Teachers Association in 1978. In 1967, he was Treasurer of the Citizens Good Government Committee.
Leon was also a member of Beth Abraham Synagogue and part of the committee spearheading the purchase of land in 1956 and the 1957 construction of its synagogue on Blue Avenue. He and his family were members of the congregation from when it opened its Blue Avenue doors to its closing in 2017. He participated in a leadership capacity where he was President of B’Nai B’Rith (1957 and 1958) and served as its Vice President for many years.
Surviving are his wife, Pauline Levion; his sister, Florence Levin; a daughter, Hilarie Levion Katz; a son, Martin Levion; and three grandchildren, Chelsea Katz, Gabrielle Levion and Joshua Levion; son-in-law Barry Katz; and daughter-in-law Meg Osman.
In addition to his parents, his wife Marilyn and his daughter Beth, he is predeceased by his sister, Harriet Levion Pullman.
Visiting hours will be held from 12:00 to 2:00 PM on Tuesday, April 23rd, at the Bolin-Dierkes Funeral Home, followed by a service at 2:00 PM with Rabbi Jeffrey Elson. Burial will be at the Beth Abraham Jewish Cemetery, with a reception to follow at the Old Market House Inn from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to support the work of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Go to:
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Attn: Emily Carter
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Office of Development
PO Box 27106
New York, NY 10087
Please indicate on the check that the gift is in honor of Leon Levion.
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