Baker City, Oregon
Leo Palumbo, 89, a longtime Baker City resident, former elementary school principal and musician, died June 6, 2003, at Settler’s Park.
Visitations will be until 6 o’clock tonight at the Coles Funeral Home, 1950 Place St. There will be a vigil service at 7 p.m. Monday at Coles Funeral Home. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral, First and Church streets. Interment will be at 3 p.m. MDT Tuesday at Park View Cemetery in New Plymouth, Idaho.
Leo Joseph Palumbo was born Nov. 24, 1913, at Logansport, Ind., to James Cosimo and Rose Catanzaro Palumbo. The family moved to Payette, Idaho, in 1923 where Mr. Palumbo established the J.C. Palumbo Fruit Co.: grower, packer and shipper of fruit, potatoes and onions.
Leo attended Payette schools, graduating in 1932. He then attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated cum laude with a degree in commerce (now business administration). Leo returned to Payette and joined his father at the fruit company.
In February 1941, Leo was among the first group of men drafted into the U.S. Army. His gear was on a train with troops destined for the South Pacific when he received orders to report to Officer’s Training School at Camp Lee, Va. Leo spent three years at Kodiak, Umnak, and Bethel, Alaska, as a stevedore officer.
He was honorably discharged in January 1946 with the rank of captain. Leo then returned to Payette to the fruit company. Leo and Mary Louise Campo (his father’s bookkeeper) were married on March 20, 1946.
When the fruit company was sold in 1948, Leo entered the teaching field. His first year was in the middle school at Wilder, Idaho, where he was a social studies teacher and assistant athletic coach of all high school sports.
Leo was then teacher/principal at the West Side Elementary and principal of the junior-senior high schools in Payette for 11 years. The family then moved to Baker City where Leo was principal of Churchill Elementary, taught third grade at St. Francis Academy and taught third grade at North Baker Elementary.
Leo was a substitute teacher for a number of years after retirement and spent a number of years as a driver’s training instructor. During this time, he attended nine summer sessions at the College of Idaho to obtain his master of arts in education. He attended three summers at Eastern Oregon University and one at the University of Oregon. When Leo retired, the faculty friends gave him a red Schwinn bicycle. With it Leo rode hundreds of miles in the Baker area.
Shortly after moving to Payette, Leo learned to play the saxophone. He continued to play for school, city and dance bands until his beloved Buddy Band disbanded. He volunteered for years at the Baker County Senior Center. He was Advisory Council chairman and decorated the Extension Building Senior Center for every holiday, season or event. He was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the Oregon Gerontological Association in 1989.
Leo was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church, serving as altar boy, choir member and lector.
Leo and Louise are the parents of a son, David, and his wife, Kathy of Boise; and daughters, Rosemary, and her husband, Ronald Kay Panter of Boise, and Peggy and her husband, Gary Brown of La Grande; they have six grandchildren, Jennifer Charters, Angelina Shaver, Brittany and Shane Ellert, and Matt and Eric Brown; and two great-grandchildren, Jordan Robert Charters and Jordan Marie Shaver.
Leo was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Johnny.
He also is survived by two sisters, Mary Rose Davis of Clarkston, Wash., and Agnes Leeburn of Sun Lakes, Ariz.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, June 13, 2003
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor