A cherished father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Leon Michael Saliba was born on February 22, 1911 in Campbell, Missouri to Michael Thomas Saliba and Malakeh Mittry Saliba, both of whom emigrated from Lebanon, and passed away peacefully surrounded by his children on June 3, 2017 in Toluca Lake.
Leon was predeceased by his beautiful and devoted wife of 58 years, Dolores Ayoob Saliba, who passed away in 1994. Together they raised their family in the Hancock Park home they built in 1955. Since 1974, Leon was delighted to live in the village of Toluca Lake.
Leon lived an extraordinary life spanning over a century of astounding years.
Leon is also predeceased by his siblings Thomas Saliba, Naseeb (Cleo) Saliba, Mary (Jack) Malouf, and Lillian (Sam) Murr and is survived by his six loving children, four of whom are Tolucans: DeAnne (Byron) Hayes, Tom (Betty) Saliba, Mike (Cathy) Saliba, Joanne (Reyn) Saliba Blight, Cathy Saliba and John (Gila) Saliba as well as 10 adoring grandchildren, nine precious great-grandchildren, and many wonderful nieces and nephews.
Later in life, Leon was so fortunate to have a joyful 10-year relationship with the vivacious Mary Lou Garner (deceased) of Hancock Park and Toluca Lake, who was a mother of four (including Tolucan Gayle Garner Roski) and for the past 11 years to a recent centenarian, the very gracious and charming Carol Leahy of Hancock Park.
For 43 years, Leon was a staunch supporter of the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce, Homeowners Association and Garden Club. He did all of his banking and marketing in the area, and thoroughly enjoyed eating out at Magnolia Grille, Paty’s, Zankou Chicken, Ernie’s Mexican Restaurant, Taste Chicago, Malbec, Honeybaked Ham and Arde’s Bistro. He especially appreciated Linda at Michelle Bouse’s Beauty Boutique for great haircuts, Milt & Edie’s for expert alterations & cleaning and Generales & Generales for designing and making his annual lapel pins, which he proudly wore from age 103-106.
Former L.A. City Councilmember Tom LaBonge and NBC weathercaster Fritz Coleman were very gracious in mentioning Leon in public.
Leon lived an extraordinary life spanning over a century of astounding years. He graduated with honors from Los Angeles High School in 1928. Though he earned a scholarship to attend Caltech, he chose to work full time to support his family, establishing a lifelong and revered role as a provider. After high school, he went to work for his maternal uncles in the Mittry Bros. Construction Co. Soon after, he started his own Insurance Brokerage firm in downtown Los Angeles in 1929 becoming a respected pioneer in the Construction Bonding and General Insurance business.
Leon always maintained that the most important aspect of his business was based on the highest quality and unwavering service to his clients.
An active member of the Underwriter’s Club of Los Angeles, Leon was also a proud member of the Wisdom Masonic Lodge for over 75 years, and a member of the Los Angeles Valley of the Scottish Rite and the Al Malaikah Shriners.
Until his passing, he was an active and dedicated colleague for 67 years as a founder of “The Loafers” a weekly lunch group of men who are steadfast in their commitment to each other and to the community.
For many years, Leon was affectionately known by his fellow Wilshire Country Club members as the “Grey Ghost” for often being the earliest morning golfer on the course. Tall and handsome with a powerful speaking voice, he was a legendary and sought-after Master of Ceremonies with a gift for articulate public speaking at many functions.
Leon learned of the importance of the Eastern Orthodox religion early in his life. He was instrumental in raising funds for the building of St. Nicholas Cathedral and Hall in Los Angeles. He chaired the Parish Council in 1951 and became a lifetime member of the Order of St. Ignatius.
To all who knew him and all who recently met him, Leon was a positive and supportive role model to the very end of his life. His family is grateful to Dr. Bharat Shah, his physician for close to 30 years, who had foresight in his care of Leon and treated him as though age was of no consequence.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of Leon Michael Saliba to: St Nicholas Cathedral, 2300 West Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90057 or Los Angeles High School c/o The Harrison Memorial Charitable Trust, 4650 West Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019.