Long Live Leo

Leo Dodd at about twenty years of age

My dad used to read bedtime stories to us and at some point I noticed he didn’t have a book in front of him. He was making the stories up. And they were better than the ones in the books. As kids we watched in awe as he painted Disney characters on the heat ducts in our basement. Weekend outings were walks down Atlantic Avenue to look at the trains, real adventures.

He saved some money on our new house in Webster by paneling the family room and the bedroom above it himself. He involved us in the whole process, betting candy bars with us on whether the pieces would fit. He dragged a dead tree home and planted it in our backyard. It was beautiful but he took some heat from the neighbors. He hand-dug a built-in swimming pool in our backyard. I don’t remember being much help. He hung four Rouault prints in our living room, a vivid early art influence for me.

My dad embraced technology and was an early adapter. He let us borrow a half megapixel, digital camera, one that Kodak was developing. It was the size of a lunch bucket. He had a Mac II before we did.

We never knew what my dad did for a living because most of his work at Kodak was classified. He did some freelance work at night and I had the opportunity to work with him on slideshows for a computer chip maker. This high-tech company would bring their top scientists into the conference room and they’d describe the advantages of their newest technology while my dad sketched. He had an amazing ability to visually simplify complicated processes. I could sense the respect others had for him. These were high pressure jobs with insane deadlines and Leo was having fun!

His favorite saying was, “I can’t talk without a pencil” Flow charts were his way of organizing the world. He made one on his iPad a couple of weeks ago in Highland Hospital where he laid out the chain of command for the doctors in charge of his care.

Leo was incredibly active in retirement. He was always doing a research project, presentations or websites. I was his tech support and I got drawn into his many projects. We took a painting class together for many years. He called it “therapy.” Getting to know Leo in all these situations, not just as my dad but as an interesting and unique human being, was a real treat. It was a privilege to be able to help him near the end of his life.

Leo’s computer is at our place now because he asked us to finish a few projects. He is still getting email. LeoDodd.com is still online and there are plenty of new paintings to post. The wildflowers in Edmunds Woods will still come up again this year. But as Leo would say, you’ll have to get there early in the Spring, well before the leaves fill in.

11 Responses to “Long Live Leo”

  1. Lisa Gonzalez Says:

    Hi Paul, I was so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. He seemed like a remarkable man and it’s clear the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You are lucky to have had a relationship where mutual respect and creativity flourished. Rest in Peace Leo. What a life!
    Regards to Peggie.
    Love, Lisa

  2. Mahoney Says:

    Beautiful, Paul.

  3. Gloria Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad! A truly remarkable and fascinating man…I believe you inherited his wonderful qualities! So sorry for your loss xoxo

  4. Claire Says:

    What an amazing guy.

  5. Laurie Schapp Coleman Says:

    I was fascinated to read this about your dad. I didn’t know anything about him. How blessed you were to have had him so long – although it’s never long enough. xx

  6. Matthew Leonard Says:

    So enjoyed reading this vivid recollection of your Dad, Paul. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. paolo. Says:

    You made Leo live on through these words. Great job.

  8. Donna Says:

    My heartfelt condolences, Paul. Perhaps he and Fred are chatting about painting some where. I’d like to think so.

  9. Bob Says:

    Sometime early this year, an orange cat started to show up around our house.

    Skinny and young, we fed him and kept track of him for a few weeks. Turns out he was also visiting all the neighbors and being fed.

    He’s very friendly – wanders up to see what you are up to and engages you to pet him.

    He has the run of the neighborhood and can be seen down by the creek as well as at various houses.

    Our neighbors a few doors away somewhat adopted him and had him neutered and we split the bill with them. They have made a place in their home for him for when the weather is bad, but he’s still very much a cat of this neighborhood and we see him out all over the place all the time.

    He chases birds, but I’ve never seen him devouring any. The neighbors named him Leo and, after hearing about your Dad’s love of and communion with nature, as well as being a steward of this very neighborhood we shared with him, it’s turned out to be a very fitting name for this cool cat.

  10. Susan Baechle Says:

    I loved your story about your dad. Such a warm and visual story about a very special person.

  11. Louise Says:

    I have been reading about your father on popwars and his site. If you don’t have a show title yet, maybe you will find it there. Flow Charts. I thought of The Talking Pencil as you write that he said he couldn’t talk without a pencil.

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Louise