We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home & Crematory
Robert Charles Leestma 10/15/1927 - 9/13/2022
Robert (Bob) Leestma was born in Detroit, Michigan to Jeanne (Nivarre) Leestma and Richard Leestma. He spent many happy childhood years at Camp Davaja for Boys in Michigan. It was here that his love for the outdoors and nature was enkindled; hunting, fishing, and hiking with his fellow campers.
Bob served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1946-1947, then attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned his PhD in 1956. Bob came from a humble background and was a self driven man, working to put himself through school and earning awards as a Payne Scholar and a Hinsdale Scholar.
Bob’s long and distinguished career embodied his extreme value of, and love for education. He first began teaching in the Ann Arbor public schools, and then returned to his Alma Mater, the U of Michigan as a Research and Training Assistant. It was during this time that he met Margaret Bell, who also worked at the University. They married in 1955.
Bob went on to serve in many capacities in the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. Career highlights include: Member, Chairman and Advisor to the U.S. delegation on international conferences; Chairman Education Committee- Organization of European Cooperation and Development; U.S. governing counsel - International Bureau Education; United Nations Educational Member, Deputy Director, Office of Education for Overseas Dependents; and related service: acting U.S. delegate, speaker, dignitary and representative to Egypt, Japan, and IndoChina. Bob authored, co-authored and/or edited books, chapters and articles in professional journals, including Japanese Education Today and Japanese Education Productivity. He was on
the Board of Directors for the Abraham A. Low Institute. A full career biography and accomplishments are acknowledged in the publication, Marquis Who’s Who (in America).
Bob, with wife Margaret, led one of the first Peace Corps missions to Southeast Asia under the Kennedy administration, starting a lifelong affinity for the people of Southeast Asia.
Although Bob was deservedly proud of his accomplishments and contributions, he never thought himself to be superior to others. He respected, appreciated and delighted in people of all backgrounds, ages, and careers. He was a renowned story teller, but was also genuinely interested in the story of each person he met. Whether at the bank, grocery store, government office, post office, doctors’ office, or favorite restaurant, he greeted people by name and was greeted warmly in return.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife Margaret, parents Jeanne and Richard, and only sibling Irene. He is survived by nephews Bob Pecora and Joseph Pecora (Kathy), nieces Donna Demis and Jeanne Chiligiris (Evan), great nieces and nephews, and many dear friends, who will sorely miss him, but remember him always.
Bob wanted his gravestone to be inscribed “ A Simple Country Lad and True Friend.” That he was, and so much more.
Many thanks for the excellent, professional and compassionate care given Bob by the amazing staff at The View of Alexandria (formerly the Hermitage of Northern Virginia), Goodwin Living Hospice and Christiana and Tantia of Goodwin Living Homecare.
To honor Bob’s interest in promoting conservation education and philanthropy, donations can be made in his memory to the National Wildlife Federation nwf.org , the New England Forestry Foundation http://www.newenglandforestry.org or to the Salvation Army salvationarmy.org.
A Celebration of Life open house/luncheon is planned for Sunday, October 2nd from 12pm to 3pm at The View of Alexandria, Penthouse meeting room, 5000 Fairbanks Avenue, Alexandria, VA. 22311. Please respond on the tribute page if you are able to attend.
To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of Robert "Bob" Charles Leestma, please visit our Tree Store.
National Wildlife Federation
PO Box 1583, Merrifield VA 22116-1583
New England Forestry Foundation
32 Foster Street, P.O. Box 1346, Attn: Development Office, Littleton MA 01460
The Salvation Army
1804 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria VA 22301