Leo Leonard Sell, Nalcrest, Fla., departed this life on Feb. 11, 2013, at the age of 84 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Over these years, as the illness progressed, all of us in the Sell family have been energized and encouraged by the love and compassion of so many treasured friends who gave support in numerous ways for which we are eternally grateful.
“Big Leo” was slender in build, and huge in spirit. If there was ever a man who knew how to combine the duty, honor, and hard work, with the joyful pursuit of laughter, jokes and teasing, it was Leo Sell. He brought his children up to work hard, think of others, and share life and things with a generous spirit. He loved nothing more than dancing with Nancy (nee Neill) his beloved wife of 59 years.
Leo was born on April 22, 1928, in Defiance Ohio, to Margaret McFeters and Harry Sell. He spent his childhood in Ransom, Mich., where he along with his brothers and sisters helped on a family farm. He never lost his love of farming and growing plants. He graduated from Waldron High School, attending Boys’ State at Michigan Agricultural College (MAC) during high school, and later briefly attended MAC (now known as Michigan State University).
As a young man, he followed the lead of his father and brother and volunteered for the U.S. Army, knowing that he would be likely to serve in the Korean War. He did so from 1951 to 1953 and quickly distinguished himself to his commanding officers who placed him into leadership school. He rapidly rose in rank to become first a lance corporal and then staff sergeant, directing the actions of a recoilless rifle platoon.
After returning from the war, as he resided in Hillsdale County, Mich., he soon came to notice Nancy Neill, a young lady five years his junior. Leo met Nancy on Memorial Day, 1953 and they married six months later. Leo always said, with a twinkle in his eye, that “it was those green eyes that got me.”
After having their first son, “Little Leo,” he and Nancy purchased a small farm not far from Hillsdale and Leo combined working full-time for the U.S. Post Office with farming and raising a family that grew to include Leo, Leslie, Alan, and Steven.
Leo and Nancy moved to Pensacola, Fla., in 1979, continuing to work for the Post Office until his retirement in 1985. In 1988, they moved to Nalcrest, Fla., where they have continued to reside amongst many friends.
Leo strived to always put “family first” and he was greatly loved by his wife, children and grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his four children, Leo, Leslie, Alan, and Steven; grandchildren, Shawn Sell, David Sell, Crystal Wilson, Molly Sell, and Jakob Sell; great-granddaughter, Keegan Sell, as well as his brother Duane and many niece and nephew.