Leon James Ostapiej, 79, passed away on June 28, 2022, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Leon was born October 1, 1942, in Naliboki, Poland (present day Belarus) to Stanislaw and Stefania (Wieromiej) Ostapiej. Prior to the start of the German offensive Barbarossa, against the Soviets, Leon, 9 months old, his family and the survivors of Naliboki were transported, over the course of two weeks in cattle cars, to Western Germany as slave laborers. Liberated by the Americans on April 12, 1945, Holy Thursday, the family then spent the next 5 years in various displaced persons camps prior to immigrating to Northern Ontario, Canada.
Leon was proud of his Polish heritage and traditions. While in high school, Leon took time off to work underground for Kerr-Addison Gold Mine where his father also worked. After working a year, he went back to continue with his education. Leon’s family immigrated to Holyoke, Massachusetts to be reunited with his surviving grandparents and uncles. Leon joined the Marine Corp and after finishing boot camp at Camp Lejeune, NC, he was sent to Chu Lai, Vietnam for a 1-year tour with Marine Aircraft Group 12. After the completion of his initial tour, he volunteered for a second tour to ensure his brothers would not have to go to Vietnam. He was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal with two stars, the Vietnam Campaign Medal w/device, the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal (2nd award). Upon completing his military service Leon became a United States Citizen.
Leon began his engineering career working for Hamilton Standard, United Aircraft, General Dynamics, and General Instruments Corporation. In 1970 Leon, his wife, and daughter started a new life in San Diego. There he began working in industries related to the early development of laser technology (light and disc) and ceramic circuits. While living in California, worked for various companies such as Sitronix and Lottery Enterprises. He also managed a factory in Tecate, Mexico for Hughes Aircraft.
In retirement Leon moved to Las Vegas and enjoyed spending time with his daughter, her dogs and his friends. Leon was a man of faith and a member of St. Thomas Moore Church where he had many friends. Regardless of time and distance he faithfully continued to maintain contact with his childhood friends. Leon lived with his partner, Ana Snow, whom he loved and cared for until her passing, July 1, 2017.
Leon was preceded in death by his grandparents Karol and Stefania (Lukasiewicz) Astapiej, his parents, Stanislaw and Stefania (Wieromiej) Ostapiej, his brother Raymond K. Ostapiej (Ret. MSGT USAF) and his brother-in-law Leon Hajdamowicz with whom he picked tobacco during his high school summer breaks in Massachusetts.
Leon is survived by his former wife Evie Vaccaro, his daughter Maria Ostapiej-Schellhase, his siblings, Vicha Hajdamowicz, South Hadley, MA, Theresa Ostapiej, Holyoke, MA and Henry S. Ostapiej (Ret. Major, USA), Silver Spring, MD and numerous extended family members.
A service will be held August 19th at 12:30 pm in the Chapel of the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1900 Veterans Drive, Boulder City, Nevada 89005