Former President LeRoy Leiske Passes Away
We are saddened to report that our long-time friend LeRoy Leiske passed away this morning in Grand Prairie, Texas at the age of 96. Many of you will recall that Elder Leiske served as the 18th president of Southwestern Adventist University (then named Southwestern Union College) from 1971 to 1974, and as development director from 1968 to 1970. During his time as director of development, Leiske organized the Committee of 100 and directed construction of the cafeteria. As president, Leiske, with the support of union and conference leaders providing thousands of dollars in scholarships and with the efforts of University recruiters, grew the enrollment from 367 to 700 in three years. Leiske oversaw the conversion of the Pultar Pavilion into the Leiske-Pultar Gymnasium. He also designed, fundraised, and took vacation time with his wife to build what is now known as the Callicott Student Park. The University honored Leiske with the Pioneer Award during the 2008 Commencement and the Keene Chamber of Commerce again honored him with the award at the annual Commerce banquet in 2013. He served as the mayor of the City of Keene, Texas from 1986-1988. He is remembered by alumni as a true friend of the students, who took time to learn all their names and sought to improve their collegiate experience in any way he could.
“I had the privilege to meet with Elder Leiske shortly after becoming president,” says University President Dr. Ken Shaw. “It was an honor to meet him and hear his stories. He still had the twinkle in his eye and the warm personality we’ve heard so many alumni recall. We are truly grateful for his dedication to our school. He will be greatly missed.”
Elder Leiske was born July 27, 1920 in Bentley, Alberta, Canada to George and Amelia Unterseher Leiske. He married Sylvia Lockert on June 1, 1943 and she preceded him in death on February 25, 2012, after 68 years of marriage. Elder Leiske served the Lord in a number of leadership positions for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Survivors include his daughters, Nanci Slease of Granbury, Texas, and Sandra Underhill and her husband Jerry of Forth Worth, Texas; grandchildren Alexandria Hopps, Nick Underhill and Brett Leiske; great grandchildren Haley Leiske, Kal-El Leiske, Ava Underhill and Ashton Underhill; numerous nieces and nephews, and other relatives and friends who will miss him dearly.
A viewing will be held Thursday evening, December 29, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Crosier-Pearson Cleburne Funeral Home in Cleburne, Texas. A graveside service is planned for Friday, December 30, at 2:00pm at Keene Memorial Park.
Photo, left to right: Dr. Ken Shaw visiting with Elder Leiske in his home in 2014 (Photo courtesy Dan Roberts), Elder Leiske in his home in 2014, Elder Leiske receiving the Pioneer Award from former SW Union President Max Trevino and former SWAU President Dr. Eric Anderson in 2008, and Elder Leiske's faculty photo as SWAU President circa 1971.