Francis Neil Leavitt was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sept. 8, 1922. He passed away in Spanish Fork, Utah, on May 19, 2020. He was 97 years old, the patriarch of a family of five children, 21 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren. Mr. Leavitt was known formally as Neil, but he was and is “Grandpa” to his grandchildren, including the author of this obituary.
There is no Grandpa without his wife, Pauline, Grandma. On a spring evening many years ago, Grandpa made a ring from some wire and a shard of glass and proposed to Grandma. She traded it for a more conventional wedding ring on June 9, 1943, in the St. George, Utah, LDS temple. She passed away in 2005, and Grandpa has missed her every day since.
Grandpa worked hard and rarely complained. Soon after he was drafted into the Army during World War II, a sergeant asked Grandpa’s opinion on the war. Grandpa said he didn’t know. He had been working every day from 2 a.m. to sundown and didn’t have time to take a newspaper or listen to the news. Later, Grandpa took a battery of IQ tests designed to identify potential Army pilots. He scored 136, squarely in the “Highly Gifted” category. Grandpa was unassuming, but he was always sharp.
While raising his family, Grandpa farmed, built fences and houses, worked in an iron foundry, and did other sundry jobs. But his work didn’t define him. His character did. After Grandma’s dad had a stroke, Grandpa and Grandma prayed. Then they got up, sold their dream home in California, and moved to Idaho to care for Grandma’s ailing parents. Giving up what he wanted for someone else’s benefit was just like Grandpa.
Grandpa retired in 1987 and built another dream home in Utah near family. Within a year though, he and Grandma felt called to set aside their own comforts to serve a two-year LDS mission in Pennsylvania. It was a highlight of Grandpa’s life, and Grandpa was a highlight for the many people who felt God’s love through his Christlike service. He always seemed to know what Jesus would do, and then he did it.
In his life history, Grandpa wrote about standing at his living room window one evening when his kids were young, looking out on the beautiful world, wondering why the Lord had blessed him so much. We who knew Grandpa know the answer — he saw blessings everywhere he looked. It never mattered what happened, what trial or problem might crop up. It was all a blessing. And so was Grandpa.
Neil Leavitt was preceded in death by his wife, Pauline Leavitt; his son, Gary Leavitt; and siblings: Read Leavitt and Marion Wells. He is survived by his children: Russell Leavitt (wife, Sally Beard Leavitt), Preston Leavitt (wife, Val Miranda Leavitt), Vickie Peterson (husband, Dennis Peterson), and Lori Geary. He is also survived by his sister, Keren Lake.
A graveside memorial for family will be held on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 11 a.m. PST at the Bunkerville Cemetery in Bunkerville, Nevada. A viewing will be held prior to services from 8:30-9 a.m. MST, at Metcalf Mortuary, 288 W. St. George Blvd., St. George, Utah.
Arrangements entrusted to the care of Metcalf Mortuary, (435) 673-4221. Please visit our website at www.metcalfmortuary.com for condolences, complete obituary and funeral listings.