OBIT LeonardLHelton

Leonard L. Helton passed away on June 2, 2017. Leonard is survived by his loving wife of almost 68 years, Anna, his two daughters, Laura Perry and Valarie Sanford, and his three granddaughters, Whitney Sanford, Samantha Sanford, and Anna Perry.

Leonard grew up in Ezel, Kentucky and attended Eastern Kentucky University after serving in World War II with the U.S. Air Force. At Eastern, he participated in the ROTC, where he graduated as a Second Lieutenant. Most importantly, Eastern is where he met his adoring wife, Anna. After they graduated and were teaching for a while, Leonard and Anna moved to Anchorage, Alaska where they made lifelong friends and started their family. In 1957 they moved to California where they built their home in 1964 in Los Altos.


Leonard taught U.S. History and Civics at Los Altos High School from 1957 to 1983. In addition to teaching, he hosted a Ping Pong Club that met regularly at his house and briefly served as the Debate Team Advisor. His students and family fondly remember the intellectual challenge he provided. He loved few things more than a good debate, a well-crafted pun, a bright mind, and an exciting book. To his delight, many students kept in touch with him long after retirement. These visits and correspondences were a great joy for him, and he was very proud and excited to share in his students’ successes.


In retirement, Leonard and Anna pursued numerous other interests. They had a woodworking shop where they made furniture for family, friends and others from 1983 to 1998. He and Anna also explored the world through bird watching. Their travels took the couple to Central and South America, Australia, Asia, Africa and parts of Europe.


While Leonard led a full and happy life, all who had the pleasure of knowing him will miss him. Should friends desire, the family suggests memorial donations be made to the Friends of Los Altos Library ( or The Nature Conservancy (

A Memorial Service will be scheduled later in the summer. Please contact the family if you would like the details.

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