Leo Hendler, loving father, grandfather and friend passed away on September 23, 2020 at the age of 78. Leo was born on August 16, 1942 in Buffalo, New York to Leo and Ruth Hendler. At the age of 10, he moved to La Cañada and attended John Muir high school. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cal State Los Angeles. It was here that he met his wife Terri to whom he was married to for 30 years. They moved to La Cañada in 1975 where they raised their two daughters, Jenny and Shannon. Although Leo and Terri divorced, they remained close friends up to his death. Leo had a successful career in the home health care industry for over 30 years.
Leo, aka “Big Leo” or “Big Kahuna” had a passion for community and sports, especially football. He combined these interests to create an extraordinary social life. He coached his daughters’ little league softball teams and was an active La Cañada High School Booster. He initiated and spearheaded a La Cañada All Star Softball Team in 1990 as the 1st team to play with a women’s team in Russia, taking his daughter Shannon on a trip of their lifetime as “Ambassadors of Goodwill.”
Leo was a high school football referee for over 30 years. He was an active member of the Tournament of Roses for over 25 years and an Honorary Director for the last 22 years. Through his Tournament involvement, he was able to work directly with the Rose Bowl, coordinating the officials’ crew and chain-gang for the annual Rose Bowl game & BCS championships. And despite Leo being a die-hard UCLA Bruins fan, he was given the opportunity to be on the replay officials’ team for USC home football games for 10 years.
Leo was best known for his quick wit and engaging and dynamic personality. He was often termed “the mayor” or “social director.” He had friends everywhere, old and young and cherished them all. He would often be spotted at Georgee’s Pizza chatting up a group of teenagers, reminiscing about a football game or discussing weekend plans. His genuine love for life and contagious personality traveled through generations of La Cañada families.
His greatest pride were his girls, Jenny, Shannon and later in life, Sandi Mellin’s daughter, Dani, whom he supported in school and during her softball career. He was a loving, proud and supportive father. He treasured his daughters’ friends and families, many with whom he built lifelong friendships. Another great joy were his 4 grandchildren, Ashleigh, Courtney, Jake and Luke. Boppa, as they called him, was at every dance recital, baseball & soccer game, often coaching from the sidelines with his infectious smile.
Leo was an unbelievable father, “Boppa”, referee, coach, community leader, supporter, friend and a fixture of his beloved La Cañada town. He touched the lives of so many with his charm, charisma and zest for life. He will be deeply missed.
Leo was preceded in death by his father, Leo, and mother, Ruth. He is survived by his daughter, Jenny Kazak of La Cañada, son-in-law, Justin and their children, Ashleigh and Courtney, his younger daughter, Shannon Diamond of Park City and her two sons, Jake & Luke and his sister, Carol Hendler.
Memorial service is scheduled for October 10th at St. Bedes Church. Due to COVID capacity restrictions, service will be private. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to:
Other Designation: “Leo Hendler Alzheimer’s Fellowship”
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