Michael (Mike) Joseph Leo, 87, a resident of Glendale, California, for more than a decade, passed away at Glendale Memorial Hospital on November 17, 2022, of respiratory failure associated with Stage 4 metastatic cancer of unknown origin, less than three weeks after being admitted to the emergency room for physical complaints seemingly unrelated to the soon-to-be-discovered late-stage cancer.
Michael Leo was born to Salvatore and Betty Leo in Brooklyn, New York, on February 17, 1935, and grew up in Brooklyn, and Mt. Vernon, New York. In 1940, at the age of 5, Mike almost died, spending 2½ months in the hospital due to acute appendicitis with perforation, acute peritonitis and lobar pneumonia; after that experience, Mike remained grateful to God for saving his life, and grateful for every day of his life, which he regarded as precious. In 1959, Mike graduated from college at the University of Arizona, where he received dual Bachelors’ degrees in both physics and electrical engineering.
While a student at the University of Arizona, he met Elda Leparulo (in 1959), a native Italian who had been visiting her brother Luigi Leparulo (Mike’s best friend in college). Though Mike did not speak Italian at the time and Elda did not speak English, they soon fell in love, courted for 11 months, both became bilingual and were married in 1960. Shortly after marrying, they moved to Italy where they lived from 1960-1966 and where Mike worked as an electrical and field engineer in Marina di Grosseto, Tuscany.
Mike, Elda and their young son Richard (born in late 1963) moved back to the United States in 1966, settling in Southern California. Shortly after their return, Elda gave birth to their identical twin daughters, Elizabeth and Suzanne, in 1967. After returning to the United States, Mike switched careers many times, working on and off in a variety of sales and marketing jobs and eventually becoming an Enrolled Agent and starting his own business (at one time, he held licenses in securities, insurance, real estate, and tax). Mike and Elda raised their three children in Canyon Country, California, but eventually divorced in 1994 (finalized in 2001).
After the divorce, Mike moved to different parts of Los Angeles (eventually settling in Glendale), was unemployed following the dissolution of his business, and attended Glendale Community College (where he took courses on computer applications and accounting); North-West College in Pasadena (where he received a paralegal certificate); and the College of Automotive Finance in Santa Ana (where he received a certificate in auto finance management).
From 2009 until the time of his death, Mike worked primarily as a part-time apartment manager at the Palmer Street apartment complex in Glendale, and occasionally in telemarketing or other temporary and part-time commission-based sales or seasonal jobs. Mike was appreciated and admired by many residents of the Palmer Street apartment complex, especially his close friends Edwin and Sandra Bojorquez.
Mike always enjoyed dancing, especially with his former girlfriend Margarita Garcia, whom he referred to as “my wonderful Zia” and with whom he remained close friends to the time of his death. He also enjoyed watching movies. And he was always passionate about learning about health, nutrition and wellness.
A salesman at heart, Mike seemed always ready to dispense unsolicited health advice and/or to try to sell or recommend the latest nutritional, health, and pain relief supplements or products that he had become convinced would extend longevity. Though Mike was not an outwardly religious person, he had an enduring belief in God, the power of hope, the importance of setting goals and the magic of thinking and dreaming big. Despite the many financial struggles that he experienced throughout his adult life, and despite his indigence, Mike never let go of his dream to one day become wealthy.
Michael Joseph Leo is survived by his three children (Richard Leo of San Francisco, California; Elizabeth Leo De Santis (and her husband Gaetano De Santis) of Northvale, New Jersey; and Suzanne Leo of Irvine, California), four grandchildren (Sophia De Santis, Nicolas De Santis, Eric Leo and Layla Leo) and his two siblings (Frank Leo of Arlington, Texas and Lenore Moretti of Harrison, New York), their spouses, children and many grandchildren.
Mike’s wish was to be cremated. There will not be a memorial service. The family asks that when you think of Mike, you appreciate the beauty of the world around you, as he would have had you do in his memory.