Leon Phillips Semkoff
A celebration of the life of Leon Phillips Semkoff will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, at the Chapel of the Garden at Rice Funeral Service. Visitation will be today (Thursday) with family receiving visitors from 5 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home at 631 E. Will Rogers Blvd., Claremore.
Leon passed away on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. He was 75.
Born in Clinton, Okla., on Jan. 9, 1939, to Mike and Christina (Gergovska) Semkoff, Leon was raised and educated in his birth community. Leon discovered that his name had come about by clever planning from his father. His parents agreed to name him by drawing names from a box. Unbeknownst to his mother, his father had padded the box with the name Leon Phillips, for the Oklahoma
Gov. Leon C. Phillips, who was inaugurated on the day of his birth.
In 1957, after graduating from high school, Leon proudly served his country in the United States Army Reserves. In May of 1961 Leon continued his education and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at Southwestern State College, which is now Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
He also went on to earn his Master’s degree in mathematics at Emporia State University in Kansas.
On June 5, 1960 Leon married the love of his life, Beverly Giles, in a ceremony at the First United Methodist Church in Clinton, Okla. Their union was blessed with two sons, David and Mark. Leon was a wonderful husband and father. During the early years of their marriage, Leon learned very quickly to make sure whatever car was left for Beverly had gas in the tank. This lesson was learned after the third time in a row of Beverly being stranded six blocks from the gas station and “hopping mad.”
In 1973, the family moved to Claremore when Leon took a position at Claremore Junior College. Leon was a great father who loved to teach his sons about life. One favorite quote they always heard him say was “Not that I didn’t trust you, I just wanted to make sure you did it right.” Another favorite saying of his was, “Paper is cheap.” When Leon became “Grandpa,” his grandchildren quickly learned that he could fix anything.
Leon, who could usually be seen smoking his pipe, was a very independent man who throughout his life never stopped learning. He loved to read and do crossword and jigsaw puzzles in his sunroom. Sometimes he’d challenge himself with the Rubik’s cube to pass the time.
Leon had a wonderful sense of humor and liked to have fun; an example of this was when he was a sponsor at church camp, he’d hide a water gun under his pillow and begin “shooting” unsuspecting campers as soon as the lights went out.
This loving husband, father and grandfather will be missed by all whose lives he touched. Leon is survived by his wife of 54 years, Beverly Semkoff; children, David Semkoff and wife, Cheryl, of Oologah, Mark Semkoff and wife, Patsy, of Shakopee, Minn.; grandchildren, Jared Semkoff and wife, Chelsie, Jessica, Benjamin, Asgerami and Medhanit Semkoff; sister, Donna F. Hanna; and a host of nieces and nephews. Leon is preceded in death by his parents; brother, Sam Pete Semkoff; and sister, Willa Mae Pearson.