Leonard G. Myers, Jr., 82, Defiance, known to generations of Defiance High School students as “Mr. Guidance,” died Sunday, September 22, 2019, following a valiant battle with prostate cancer.
Mr. Guidance loved teaching U.S. government and history, but was recruited to be a guidance counselor early in his career. Along with his 23-year sidekick, Fred Gruber, they entertained bleary-eyed teenagers with shtick during the morning announcements.
Leonard was equally well known for his patience teaching driver education, which he began in 1971 at Defiance High School and continued until not long before his death at Northwestern Ohio Driver Training. Across the four-county area, he was known as “the dean of driver ed.” Ever civic-minded, he gave many years of service to the Defiance Civil Service Commission, the City Education Association, the Defiance County Retired Teachers’ Association, the draft board, the city charter commission, and St. John United Church of Christ. Vacations were often deferred because he “had a meeting” on the calendar.
A star drummer in high school, Leonard went on to become drummer of The Tempos, a jazz combo that played at regional events for two decades. His lifelong fascination with airplanes and aviation began at a young age. In a 1999 profile in the Defiance Crescent-News , he related that “as early as 8, I used to go out to the airport in Hillsdale (Mich.) and bum rides with the pilots.” To no one’s surprise, he joined the Air National Guard after college.
During the Berlin and Cuban Missile crises of 1961-62, Leonard was called to serve at the Toledo Air National Guard Base. In 1980, he realized his dream of getting his pilot’s license. His family recalls the thrill (and occasional terror) of buzzing over their house in a tiny plane, Dad in the cockpit. Leonard loved to travel-and could recall virtually every motel stayed in, every route taken. He realized another of his dreams by visiting all 50 states, as well as several countries in Europe. He treasured many winter visits to his nirvana, San Diego, Calif., where some of his ashes will be scattered.
Leonard was born December 30, 1936, in Hillsdale, Mich., the adopted son of Leonard G. and Alice (Rose) Myers. When he was a boy, the family moved to Defiance, where he attended Spencer Elementary School (as did his sons and one granddaughter). He graduated from Defiance High School in 1955; Defiance College in 1959; and St. Francis College, Ft. Wayne, with a master’s degree in 1963. He began teaching at Hicksville High School in 1959 and transferred to DHS in 1964, where he served for 35
In 1963, he married Sally Ann Tustison, his high-school sweetheart, who survives. Also surviving are sons Christopher (Kyle), San Francisco; Michael (Tina), Defiance; and two granddaughters, Isabella and Olivia. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, John; a sister, Gertrude; and a granddaughter in infancy.
Visitation will be held Friday, October 18, from 2-4 and 6-8 PM, at Schaffer Funeral Home, Defiance. A celebration of Leonard’s life will commence at 11 AM on Saturday, October 19, at St. John United Church of Christ, 950 Webster St., the Rev. James Brehler officiating. Burial at Riverside Cemetery will follow at a later date.
Suggested memorials are to the church, or to the Prostate Cancer Foundation (www.pcf.org). Online condolences may be offered at www.Schafferfh.com.
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