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Wardwell Mccauley Leo
February 18, 1944 ~ October 13, 2015 (age 71) 71 Years Old
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Wardwell Macauley Leo was born on February 18, 1944 to Carl Macauley Leo and Carola Appleton Leo Hamilton. His sister, Patchin Breevort Leo Wandres was 13 years his senior. Carl Leo was a writer for ABC’s News of the Day and a playwright whose play, The Family Man, was produced on Broadway.
Ward lived with his family at 16 West 16th Street until the age of two when his parents divorced. His mother took him to New Mexico to live with her and her new husband, Jack Hamilton, who was a rancher. After Carol divorced Jack, Ward came back to New York with his mother where they lived until he was 7 when she moved with him to Paris, France for two years, followed by two years in Florence, Italy.
When he returned to New York, he lived with his father in the 16th Street apartment. Ward was very close to his maternal grandmother, Adelina Appleton, who was an early feminist and composer and had actually introduced Carl and Carol to each other. Through Adelina’s branch of the family, he was related to Samuel Wardwell who was tried and convicted of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials in 1692.
Ward attended the Rudolf Steiner School and P.S. 41 on West 11th Street. His father encouraged him in his acting interest and as a teenager, he had a role on a TV soap opera. He attended Professional Children’s School and studied at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford CT where he was mentored by Helen Menken and Helen Hayes.
Ward left school at 16 after his father’s death, and joined the Air Force at 17. He earned his GED while in the service, and applied for and was accepted to Columbia University upon his honorary discharge from the Air Force. He was a founding member of the Veteran’s Against the War and was a member of the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee. He participated in innumerable marches and actions against the war in Vietnam and was a participant in the Columbia University protests that led to the occupation of Low Library in 1968.
Ward was a graduate student of philosophy at the New School and was a follower of the behaviorist B.F. Skinner. He was a passionate discipline of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ruben Abel and John Dewey, and remained a student of philosophy throughout his life. Like Wittgenstein, he enjoyed a good murder mystery, especially Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series. In fact, Ward was a lifelong learner and thinker. He enjoyed nothing more than a good debate with people who did not agree with his political viewpoint and was always supportive of and interested in his wife’s and children’s intellectual and emotional growth.
Ward was employed by the NYC Commission on Human Rights under the leadership of then-commissioner Eleanor Holmes Norton where he created an algorithm for determining housing and other discriminatory practices. He then took those skills to the US Army Corps of Engineers’ human rights division.
Ward remained at the Army Corps of Engineers for 35 years. When he retired he was the Chief for the Information Management Office in the New York District. He was at his post on September 11, 2001 and his efforts to ensure the safety and continue the crucial work of the Corps in the weeks and months following the attack were heroic. He was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 2016 for his work during 9/11 as well as his many other achievements.
He was an organizer for the Citizens Party under the leadership of its presidential candidate (1980), Barry Commoner. He was a lifelong progressive and remained passionately interested in politics. He was an extraordinary father to his children, Katrina Finette Leo and Glenn Macauley Leo, a loving, dedicated husband to his wife Marina, and the best friend of his first wife, Diana Leo. If you were lucky enough to be Ward’s friend, you had a friend for life.
Ward died at home on October 13, 2015, surrounded by his family. He is deeply loved and sorely missed by all who knew him. May his memory be for a blessing.