Our beloved dad, friend, brother, teacher, leader, grandfather, and cousin, Leonard Cahoon Romney, has passed from this life to the next at the age of 80 due to complications from respiratory illness.
Leonard was born on June 27, 1939 in Salt Lake City to Miles Pratt Romney and Janice Cahoon. His early years were filled with endless shooting games with Rideout cousins, unfortunate sports participation, laborious family construction jobs, and mostly benign hijinks at East High.
His education reflected his curiosity and desire to serve: a Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering (Utah); a Masters in History and Philosophy of Science (Indiana), and a PhD in Education Administration (Colorado).
He married Kathryn Cannon on August 6, 1965. The next stage of their life can best be summarized in Kathryn’s words: “We began looking for adventure. After a few moves, we made our home in the jewel of cities, Boulder, Colorado. Boulder had all we’d hoped for - breathtaking scenery, a relaxed sophistication, and a spirit of celebration, which hung perpetually over the city.” Here, his four children were born: Margaret, Rachel, Adam, and Peter.
Leonard filled his childrens’ lives with values, laughter, and curiosity. They will never forget wrestling on the floor, weekly “family council” meetings (complete with an official agenda), his curious food creations and a deep work ethic. His children knew that he would come and extricate them from any deep trouble, whether they were ready or not.
In 1984 the family moved back to his hometown where, as Kathryn said, “we recaptured the feeling of growing up in a world where we were part of a whole tradition much greater than the sum of its parts.”
Leonard’s professional career was dedicated to higher education, starting with a dynamic position with National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) in Boulder and ending at the University of Utah as an Assistant Vice President. Twenty years after retiring he still maintained friendships with like-minded colleagues and was appreciated by former employees.
From 2000 to 2003, Leonard and Kathryn served as mission presidents in the Russia Moscow South Mission. Though not required, he worked to learn Russian to better connect with the community. He dedicated himself to walking with his missionaries through their onerous trials and aimed to inspire everyone to keep a vision of a bigger picture of humanity, God’s love for all, and what it means to live a Christ-like life.
In the words of a missionary, “President Romney talked openly about what makes things like faith, obedience, marriage, and service difficult. He taught me that doubt is still part of discipleship, disobedience can draw us closer to God if we truly repent, marriage takes work even when you're in love, and that service is often a sacrifice. He showed me how to live the gospel in day-to-day life rather than just discussing it in theoretical or doctrinal terms. President could see how ugly things could become beautiful.”
After Russia and during his retirement, he loved writing, driving, painting, old cars, the desert, painting old cars, and painting old cars in the desert. He perpetually strove to make the world a kinder place by bringing laughter to all, sharing heirloom tomatoes from his garden, and connecting with everyone he met, especially those he perceived as needing to be welcomed.
Leonard is preceded in death by his wife of more than 51 years, Kathryn, with whom he loved to dance, travel, move into new houses, run, garden, and serve. He is also preceded by his parents and sister Wendy Hassibe.
He is survived by: his siblings Miles (Marian), Rosanne (Russ), and Hannah (Michael); his children Margaret Watts Romney, Rachel Lyn (Troy) Preslar, Adam Daniel (Whitley Clark) Romney, and Peter Miles (Sheri Larsen) Romney; and 14 living grandchildren.
Funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 25, 2020 at 2:00 pm at the Valley View Ward, 3820 South 2000 East, Salt Lake City, where a viewing will begin at 1:00 pm. Following the service please join us for an additional viewing and celebration of his life from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, where the family looks forward to greeting all, laughing, and telling stories, just as Leonard would have done. Guests are encouraged to use the complimentary valet parking on the north side of the building. Please share your photos and memories with the family at www.starksfuneral.com.
Leonard’s family would like to deeply thank his loving helpers during his last days at the University of Utah Hospital, St. Joseph’s Villa, and Rocky Mountain Hospice.
He will donate his body to the University of Utah School of Medicine for purposes of medical study and research.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to U of U Refugees Connecting Our Community Scholarship or Encircletogether.org.