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Leo P. Kweller

October 16, 1946 December 13, 2020
Leo  P.  Kweller
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Obituary for Leo P. Kweller

Leo “Lee” Kweller, of White Plains, NY, age 74, passed away at Calvary Hospital, Bronx NY on December 13, 2020 after a decade long courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was pre-deceased by his father, Jack Kweller, and beloved mother Sylvia Schwartz Kweller, his uncle Ned Schwartz and uncle and aunt Milton Schwartz and Penny Schwartz and cousin Adam Schwartz.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Lee had fond memories of growing up there: summers at Brighton Beach, his grandmother’s “appetizing” store, Dodgers games, and playing basketball with his childhood friends, the Levine brothers. After the Dodgers left NY, he became a fervent lifelong Yankees fan. He skipped two grades, graduated with a B.S. from Brooklyn College and earned an M.S. in biochemistry from University of Pittsburgh Medical School by the age of 21.

He then embarked on an almost four decade teaching career, including close to 35 years as a chemistry teacher at Mamaroneck High School, teaching generations of students. Lee was also an avid reader and often collaborated with English teachers on various educational projects. These collaborations ultimately led to the publication of the Edusong Series – a collection of original songs and learning activities for high school literature. Throughout his time at Mamaroneck High School, students and faculty were often entertained by Lee at school parties and performances.

While teaching was Lee’s career, music was his passion. He was a talented songwriter, played piano, keyboards and accordion, and won a prestigious national award as best new songwriter. Lee started writing songs in his teens. He was an accomplished musician and while he could read music, Lee usually played by ear and could switch from pop to country, to Broadway musical scores effortlessly and play for hours without sheet music.

Lee wrote nearly a thousand songs. He worked over thirty years as the musical director at two summer camps, Camp Pontiac and Tyler Hill, where he wrote the camp songs that created lifelong memories for many. Lee also used his talents to write songs for children with terminal illnesses to brighten up their lives. Lee continued to write songs up to a short time before his passing. His songs will live on as his legacy.

From the time he learned chess as a child, Lee was an avid chess player and in his last years got great pleasure from playing chess with friend and fellow songwriter Marv Conan.

Above all, Lee was unfailingly kind, generous and goodhearted and he always was looking for ways to help others, especially through his gift of songwriting and his sense of humor. He loved The Honeymooners and knew the dialog of practically every episode by heart. He was also a big fan of Groucho Marx and his imitations and joke telling – corny as some were – made us all a little happier. We all miss hearing him tell those jokes in his beautiful, deep baritone voice. That sense of humor helped Lee retain his positive outlook on life despite his illness.

Lee is survived by his long- time partner, Mary Elle Bucci, his cousin Phillip Schwartz, and numerous friends who all miss him greatly. The family would especially like to thank his friend and caregiver, Precie Guerrier, for his care and kindness and the extended Guerrier family for all they did to help him through the last part of his life.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Guide Dogs of the Desert. Due to Covid-19, a future memorial service will be held at Zion Memorial Chapel in Mamaroneck, NY when we can all gather safely. The arrangements will be posted on the website: https://www.zionchapel.com

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