Leonard Strauss of Amherst died peacefully and surrounded by family at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke after a long journey with Alzheimer's on September 21st.Leonard was born on March 16, 1942 in St. Louis, MO to Leonard and Jenny Strauss. Leonard and his older siblings, David and Clara, grew up around the corner from their cousins Ralph, Michael, Richard, and Ellen Lowenstein, developing lifelong bonds. As adults, the six cousins and their families frequently traveled long distances for "Lowenstrauss" gatherings.Leonard excelled in academics and athletics. Nicknamed "Leapin' Lenny," he starred on Clayton High School’s varsity basketball team and was named to the Missouri All-State team. He also became a fan of the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals in these early years. He developed an appreciation for classical music and jazz, and played clarinet in his Beatnik Band. He maintained a deep connection with St. Louis throughout his life, later sharing many of his favorite places and activities with his family.
Leonard received his bachelor's degree in Government from Harvard College in 1964. He then volunteered for two years with the Peace Corps in Niger, where he distributed curricular material to teachers in the far reaches of the country, seeding his lifelong passion for education. In 1968, he received a master's degree in education from Stanford University. Shortly after, Leonard was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam as a rabbi's assistant.After his military service, Leonard traveled in Europe and settled for several years in Oxfordshire, England. He became involved in elementary education and taught in two primary schools with progressive teaching philosophies. His interest in folk music blossomed through his participation in the Ducklington Folk Club.Upon his return to the United States, Leonard completed his studies of elementary education at the University of Massachusetts. He began teaching in a two-room schoolhouse in Wendell and was chosen as the first principal of the Swift River School of Wendell and New Salem. Leonard later became the principal of the East Granby, CT elementary schools. As a leader he was gentle, humble, and hard-working. He created a healthy environment in his schools that valued inclusiveness in addition to academic excellence and innovative curriculum. He was loved by the staff, students, and parents of Swift River and East Granby.Throughout his life, Leonard loved family time, animals, playing guitar, listening to music, enjoying good food, hiking, and sports. Family and friends will remember his gentle and thoughtful kindness, goofy sense of humor, insightfulness, and curiosity.
Leonard is survived by his wife Janet Strauss, brother David (Dhera) Strauss, children Adam (Cindy) and Kate (Scott) Campbell Strauss, stepchildren Rachel (Tiernan), Aaron, and David (Jade) Poritz, the “Lowenstrauss” family, step-granddaughters Emmanuelle, Isadora, and Simone Mennen, and his first wife Deborah Campbell. He was predeceased by his sister Clara Strauss Monroe.
Leonard's family is deeply grateful for the incredible care and love that he received from the staff of the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Hospice of Western Massachusetts, and The Arbors in Amherst.Services will be private. Please send memories and/or photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Memorial contributions may be made in support of Alzheimer's Research and mailed to Massachusetts General Hospital Development Office, 125 Nashua Street, Suite 540, Boston, MA 02114, Attention: K. Wojcicki. Donations can also be made online at because.massgeneral.org/leonardstrauss.