Leeds, Dr. Barry H.

Barry H. Leeds, Ph.D., 74, of Bristol, died Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Dr. Leeds, CSU Distinguished Professor of English at CCSU, had taught at that institution for 47 years, since January 1968, and had a teaching career spanning over 52 years, including service at colleges and universities in New York City, Athens, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas. He had long been despondent over the death of his beloved daughter Leslie Lion Leeds in 1996, and he was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Dr. Leeds was the author of four books, including landmark studies of Norman Mailer (who he counted among his many friends) and Ken Kesey, along with his own autobiography, A Moveable Beast, and over two hundred articles in scholarly and popular journals and anthologies. He was most proud of his career as a professor, which he considered himself first and foremost, and for which he received the Distinguished Service Award in 1981. He was Editor-in-Chief of Connecticut Review, an interdisciplinary scholarly journal, from 1989-1992, and a member of its editorial board for over a decade, beginning in 1986. Born in Brooklyn, New York, December 6, 1940, Dr. Leeds joined the U.S. Merchant Marine at the age of 16, and served as a seaman on five freighters and tankers between 1957 and 1960. He earned his B.A. (1962) and M.A. (1963) from Columbia University in New York City and his Ph.D. from Ohio University in 1967. A member of the wrestling team at Columbia, Leeds practiced other avocations including weight lifting, karate, ballroom dancing, and SCUBA diving. He was a trophy-winning competition pistol shot, a Certified Range Officer at Metacon Gun Club, and had been Connecticut Director of Training for CQC (Close Quarters Combat), Inc. He was listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in American Education, Contemporary Authors, Directory of American Scholars, Dictionary of International Biography, The Writers’ Directory, The International Authors’ and Writers’ Who’s Who, and other such reference works. Elected to the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1991, Leeds held a lifetime appointment in the CSU system as CSU Distinguished Professor, and was a member of numerous other professional organizations including the Norman Mailer Society (Vice President) and the American Association of University Professors (fifty years). Leeds is survived by his daughter, Brett Ashley Leeds, Ph.D. and his grandchildren, Gavin Leeds Woods and Julia Leeds Woods, all of Houston, Texas; his sister, Linda Field, a nephew Daniel Field, and niece, Sarah Field, of Peterborough, NH, and his mate and best friend, Janice O’Brien of Clinton, CT. He was predeceased by his daughter, Leslie Lion Leeds. Friends may call at The Ahern Funeral Home, 111 Main St., Rt. 4, Unionville on Sunday (Apr. 19) from 4:00-6:00pm. Funeral Services will be held Monday (Apr. 20) at 11:00am in The Ahern Funeral Home followed by burial next to his daughter Leslie in Burlington Center Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Barry H. Leeds Memorial Fund, c/o Farmington Bank, 1845 Farmington Ave., Unionville, CT 06085. The funds will be used to create a Dr. Barry H. Leeds Award at CCSU.Leeds, Barry

Calling Hours

Sunday, April 19, 2015 from 4:00-6:00pm

Funeral Service

Monday, April 20, 2015 at 11:00am in The Ahern Funeral Home - Unionville


Burlington Center Cemetery - Burlington

Memorial Contribution

Barry H. Leeds Memorial Fund, c/o Farmington Bank, 1845 Farmington Ave., Unionville, CT 06085. The funds will be used to create a Dr. Barry H. Leeds Award at CCSU.

14 Responses to 'Leeds, Dr. Barry H.'

  1. Ben East says:

    This email bounced back to me minutes ago, and now I am in shock and sorrow. I was last in touch with this straight-shooting man of letters two years ago on publication of A Moveable Beast. I am sorry you have lost this inspiring man. -ben

    Hey Barry,

    I’m about to start promoting my debut novel, and in this quiet, early dawn of excitement I’m reaching out to the more important people in my writing life to let them know. The publisher’s jumped the gun a bit, making it go live before correcting all my proof edits. Main point is, I’d love to send you a copy if you pass me your address. I’ll let you know when the real deal is ready…

    Hope you’re doing well, and look forward to hearing from you.

    — So there will be no hearing from him; and he will never see his name on my acknowledgements page. But I do know he shared in my joy at the most humble of literary recognitions, and helped build me up over them. Condolences.—

  2. Carol Greenslade says:

    I want to extend my condolences to Dr. Leeds’s family for their loss. Dr. Leeds has been a resident at Huntington Woods for many years and was always pleasant and complimentary. We enjoyed having Dr. Leeds stay with us and we will miss him. The Huntington Woods Team

  3. Jim Norris says:

    Barry taught me English Literature at CCSU in 1983. He was excellent. He bought books to life for me, and lent great perspective to a book that I might have thought somewhat boring. His energy filled the room, and he always had this wonderful gleem in his eyes. I could tell he was a special person. He was one of my favorite teachers I ever had (college or otherwise), and to this day I remember him at times while reading a book.

  4. Tomi Hughes Morris says:

    I was greatly saddened to hear of Barry’s passing. I was both colleague and a student of Barry’s at CCSU from 1989-1994. Although had not been in contact at all since I left CCSU, he was one of the faculty members I thought of often as I look back on my days there. Barry was one of kindest teachers I have ever had, and I learned so much from him as I pursued by Master’s degree. My deepest condolences to his family and close friends.

  5. Nicole DePolo says:

    Barry was a wonderful person, and it was always such a gift to see him at the Norman Mailer Society conferences. He inspired me a lot, and I will miss him a lot, but he will be well-remembered by the Norman Mailer Society for years to come.

  6. He spent his seven decades decoding the DNA that links literature to life. In his final book, “A Moveable Beast: Scenes from My Life” (Author House, 2014), he details the connections that have driven him. The cover photograph shows the large and dominant figure of Leeds watching over his tiny daughter on the edge of a swimming pool. However much Mailer made madness into a form of vitality, Leeds shows how vitality is a higher form of morality. Many of the “scenes” Leeds evokes show his courage in standing up to bullying, racism, ignorance and obtuse arrogance. In this terse and trenchant memoir, less than two hundred pages, he takes us through the fifty states of the union, offering vivid glimpses of key moments, as if he is a man ready to die and must recapitulate what must not be forgotten.

  7. Jessie Haynes says:

    I had Dr. Leeds last fall and he was one of the kindest professors I have had ever had. He taught me so much about the way America used to be through his stories about Hemingway and the things that he used to do when he was younger. He gave out copies of his biography and I was waiting until I finished it to email him or visit his office to let him know that I had read it because he was worried that we wouldn’t find it too interesting. I don’t know why because he told the best stories. I wish I could have known him longer but I am grateful for the time that I had with him. He was such a wonderful man.

  8. Barbara Wasserman says:

    I did just post the following, but I’m not sure it went through:–

    I was always so glad to see Barry at the Norman Mailer Society conferences. He was so full of energy, enthusiasm and ideas. An altogether reassuring and vibrant presence. How much we will miss him.

  9. David Gerstein says:

    It is with deepest sorrow I have learned of passing of my old office mate and friend, Barry Leeds. I will always remember his care and concern for his students, his love of his discipline, American and British Literature, and his joy of the energetic life.

  10. Philip Bufithis says:

    To Barry’s Family and to Jan:

    I loved my buddy, Barry. We were close. We had quality time together, not only at the Mailer conferences but in Middletown as well. I will miss his hugs. There was no one like him. As much as he meant to me, I can only imagine how much more he meant to all of you. My thoughts are with you.

    Phil Bufithis

  11. Marc Triplett says:

    My deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Barry Leeds, a great, great man who made a wonderful impact on all his friends at The Norman Mailer Society. This loss is incalculable but his impact was enormous and lasting.

  12. Tough I had met Barry earlier, I got to know him well through our mutual work with the Norman Mailer Society after 2004. We became friends soon after when I realized he hated to drive around Provincetown at society conferences and I took on designated driver duties as we made our way to and from various events. It was during these drives particularly that we began to have unguarded conversations and came to know and respect one another. My experience of Barry has been reflected by many of his colleagues in their comments: he was a generous, courtly, witty, and intelligent friend. Many will miss him deeply. As he would say to me, I say now to him, “Rest in peace, Old Buddy.”

  13. Jerry Lucas says:

    My heartfelt condolences to Barry’s family for your loss. I was shocked when I heard of Barry’s passing. I knew him as one of the pillars of the Norman Mailer Society, as a brilliant and sensitive person, and an astute, generous scholar. I looked forward to seeing him every year at the Society conference — and they just won’t be the same without him. He was kind and friendly when I first met him and remained so over the subsequent decade. He will be missed by us all.

    Rest in peace, my friend. Know that you inspired those who remain behind to emulate your thoughtfulness, your enthusiasm, and your joy for life.

  14. Claude and Laurie Bolduc says:

    So sorry to hear about your loss. We were his neighbor across the street. We Will miss him very much. He was a Wonderful Person and Neighbor.

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