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“Remembering Leon Sanders: My Favorite Leprechaun”

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Today, on St. Patrick's Day, I find myself wrapped in a cloak of nostalgia, celebrating not just the festivity of green, parades, and good cheer, but the life of a man who embodied the spirit of this day in every aspect of his life. My father, Leon Sanders, would have added another candle to his cake today, a day he adored, reveling in the joy and unity it brought. Losing him in 2014 left a void in our hearts, yet his legacy, wisdom, and the love he shared continue to guide us. As we remember him today, I'd like to share a bit about the man who was not just my father but my favorite Leprechaun.

Figure 1. Leon and Eulanda Sanders

Leon was a remarkable blend of brilliance, innovation, and unwavering support. His life was a testament to the power of love, hard work, and the importance of family. He was a fantastic husband to my mother, Martha, cherishing her with every beat of his heart. Together, they navigated the complexities of life, raising a family built on the foundations of mutual respect, understanding, and unconditional love.

Figure 2. Leon and Martha Sanders

As a father, Leon was unparalleled. He was the pillar of strength who supported the dreams and aspirations of his three children. His unwavering belief in us constantly motivated us to strive for excellence. He took immense pride in our accomplishments, big or small, and always celebrated our victories and comforted us during our defeats. Anyone who met him had to endure listening to stories about his children and wife.

Figure 3. Leon Sanders, his children Harold (Freddie) Johnson, and Denise Caleb.

Leon's charisma was infectious. A fun-loving extrovert, he never met a stranger. His ability to connect with people from all walks of life was remarkable, making everyone he met feel valued and important. His contagious laughter and sense of humor brightened the lives of those around him.

Professionally, Leon dedicated 46 years of his life to the USDA, working tirelessly to support young farmers and ensure individuals had access to affordable and quality housing throughout their life span. His commitment to making a difference in the lives of others was evident in everything he did. He was not just doing a job; he was fulfilling a passion driven by a deep-seated belief in the importance of community, support, and sustainability.

Figure 4. Leon Sanders, with Sonny Lubbick and Alice Dodge Wallace.

St. Patrick's Day held a special place in Leon's heart. It was more than just his birthday; it was a day that reflected his essence—a day of joy, unity, and celebration. I cherish the memories of celebrating this day with him. Mom always ensured we had corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots for his birthday dinner – a tradition I still practice in his memory. One particular memory as a young adult was when I treated him to lunch at an Irish Pub in lower downtown (LoDo) Denver to celebrate his birthday. Those moments, filled with laughter, good food, and the warmth of his presence, are treasures I hold dear.

Figure 5. Various photos of Leon Sanders over the years, be sure to scroll left to see them all.

Leon was more than just my father; he was my mentor, hero, and friend. His teachings and love have left an indelible mark on my life, shaping me into the person I am today. I miss him every day, but I take solace in the fact that his spirit lives on through us—his family.

As we celebrate St. Patrick's Day today, remember to embody the values Leon Sanders lived. Let us spread love, offer support, and make meaningful connections. Let us work towards making a difference in the lives of those around us, just as Leon did. Most importantly, let us cherish the moments we have with our loved ones, for those are the true treasures of life.

To my father, Leon Sanders, my favorite Leprechaun, “Happy Birthday.” You may no longer be here with us, but your legacy, love, and lessons continue to guide us. I am forever grateful for the time we shared and am proud to have been your daughter. Here's to you, Dad—may your spirit continue to inspire us daily.

Figure 6. Leon Sanders, on his birthday in 2012.


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