Leo VitalMay 31, 1922 ~ November 27, 2017 (age 95)
LEO VITAL — affectionately known to family, friends, admirers, associates, former employees, and caregivers as "King Leo”, "Leo the Lion," and "The Man" and who epitomized in his daily life the very definitions of "vital," "vitality," "vibrancy," "exuberance," and "tenacity” passed away on Monday, November 27, 2017 at the age of 95.
Leo originally hails from the rugged, cold whaling country of New Bedford, Massachusetts where he spent his early years. During World War II, Leo served as Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Windsor through seven major invasions in the Pacific Theater. During his military service, he served with an amphibious attack force and took part in the following battles: Guam, Pelieu, Eniwetok Atoll, Philippines, and New Guinea. He brought the warrior/fighter spirit to his civilian life with a deep compassion and intuitive understanding of life and those around him.
Prior to moving to the Chattanooga area in the early 1970's, Leo served as superintendent of the Connecticut State Receiving Home in Warehouse Point, CT. Leo served terms as Chief Psychiatric Group Social Worker for the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY; Group Social Worker for the Jewish Community Center in Syracuse, NY; and as Group Social Work Therapist for the Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry, NY and executive assistant to the Medical Director of Fuller Memorial Hospital in South Attleboro, MA.
Of Leo's work in child welfare in those earlier years, his superiors memorialized their good fortune to "secure the services of a person of Leo's caliber, with special skills and administrative experience" whose experiences in working with community groups was of "invaluable help in furthering a dynamic and progressive program for Child Welfare in the State of Connecticut."
Leo fulfilled a long and distinguished 20-year career as a long-term care administrator for Life Care Centers of America, Inc., serving as executive director of the Life Care Centers of Sierra Vista, AZ, Collegedale, and Red Bank. Life Care honored Leo's excellent management skills, knowledge and performance by bestowing upon him the Facility of the Year Award in 1994 and President's Award in 1995. He also served as a mentor for many young administrators and as a preceptor for the State of Tennessee nursing home licensure.
Leo's professional and community affiliations included the Georgia Hospital Association, American College of Health Care Administrators, Tennessee and Chattanooga Health Care Associations, Academy of Certified Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers (including State and Local Chapters), American Alzheimer's Association, Greater Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and Kiwanis.
Leo was the first in his family to achieve graduation from college receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history/business administration from the Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, MA; and a Master's of Social Science Degree from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. He also took undergraduate studies in public relations at Columbia University.
A multi-faceted athlete, Leo in his youth was a Wide Receiver for the New Bedford Whalers which was a semi-professional feeder team to the Providence Steamrollers and later became the Boston Patriots and eventually, the Washington Redskins. Leo also played as Forward for the New Bedford Murphy Basketball Club.
Leo also coached Little League baseball teams in the Boston area before they were known as "Little League." Among other sports, Leo tried his hand at ice skating, water skiing, and beach volleyball. Throughout his life, Leo was an avid enthusiast and patron of golf, football, basketball, hockey, and numerous other sports. He last played his beloved golf in the annual March of Dimes Classic Golf Tournament in Chattanooga, TN in 2000.
Leo, a true Renaissance man, enjoyed many professional talents, skills and abilities. In his storied past, Leo even sold records for RCA and worked as an electrician, carpenter and plumber. Among his many professional accomplishments were his Georgia acute hospital administrator license; service as administrator of an acute care hospital in Georgia; Tennessee nursing home administrator license; service as a Tennessee Department of Health/Division of Health Related Boards nursing home administrator training preceptor; service as a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 mediator; and service as a Council of Better Business Bureau Auto Line ("lemon law") Arbitrator.
Leo gave more than lip service and exemplified in his daily life his deep belief in everyone aiming to achieve their "Personal Best." He led by inspiring and encouraging those around him to set high goals in life and to exert their best efforts to achieve those goals. Despite the health setbacks that Leo experienced from 2000 to his passing, he remained focused on enjoying the dawn of each new day granted to him and in relishing whatever blessings — large or small — each day brought.
On behalf of Leo, his family gives special acknowledgement and heartfelt appreciation to Leo's faithful private caregiver, Justin Clark, who cared for Leo for over a decade at both Morning Pointe and Life Care Center of Red Bank and was beside his bedside at Erlanger when he passed. Acknowledgement and appreciation are also expressed to nurses Marilyn and Shauna; nursing assistants Arshieta (whom Leo nicknamed "Queen Sheeba"), Loni ("Denmark") and Laura; physical therapist Gary; occupational therapist Shelley; nursing assistants/restorative aides Rhonda and Shon; and the staff of the West ICU and MICU South at Erlanger Medical Center.
Leo is survived by his devoted and beloved wife of 32 years, Patricia (Pat) Best Vital; his son, Greg Vital of Georgetown, TN; two daughters, Leta Myers, Lookout Valley, and Kathy (Doug) Kane , Cookeville, TN; grandchildren, Robert (Robbie), Kaitlyn, Daniel and Kristen Myers all of Lookout Valley, TN.
The family will receive friends Thursday from 4-8 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 E. Brainerd Road.
Services will be held Friday, December 1, 2017 at 12:30 pm in the funeral home chapel with Pastor Jim Herman officiating. A private family burial will follow at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Tennessee Aquarium Penguin Fund or a charity of your choice in honor of Leo.
Visit www.heritagechattanooga.com to share condolences to the family and view the memorial tribute.