Celebration of Life, A Remarkable 100 Years
Dr. Leon William Boucher
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.
Leon’s 5 simple rules to be happy: Arrangements:
Dr. Leon W. Boucher passed away peacefully on May 19, 2021. He was born on January 8, 1921, the son of David Wellington Boucher (1898-1973) and Lucy Mckeen (1902-1984). He is preceded in death by his wife of 67 years Virginia “Ginger” Sours (1920-2013), son David William Boucher (1953-2015), sister and brothers, and many brother/sister in-laws. He is survived by his sister Susan Richey, sister/brother in-law Patricia and Merle Hummell, daughter Carole Johnson (spouse Preston), grandchildren Pamela Labandeira, Shannon Perley, Kay Johnson, Travis Boucher, Sara Johnson, great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews as well as friends, family, and former students.
Leon and Ginger met in elementary school and were high school sweethearts. Leon would tell everyone that he was going to marry Ginger and in fact he never dated anyone else. During his years at Old Fort High School, Leon was a member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4‑H where he showed multiple animals at the Ohio State fair, ran track (while Ginger played basketball) and was a member of the 4 x 100-meter relay team that competed in the state championships at the Ohio Stadium. These collaboration groups would be part of his life for the next 80+ years.
Leon grew up during the Great Depression on a family farm in Green Springs, Ohio (100 miles north of Columbus). One of five children, he never thought he would be able to go to college. However, his agriculture teacher at Old Fort saw him as a young person with great potential in the field. His teacher completed an application on his behalf, contacted friends at The Ohio State University (OSU), took Leon to visit the campus and by the time they left, Leon had been offered a four-year Sears Roebuck scholarship in Agricultural Education.
After earning his BS in Agriculture Education at OSU in 1942, Leon taught agriculture at Montpelier High School in northwest Ohio. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1944. While serving as a Boatswain’s Mate (Petty Officer) 2nd class on the USS Destroyer McNair in the Pacific, American planes were shot down and after seeing the flapping wings of a plane, Leon dove off the destroyer and swam to the plane where he tied a rope around the pilot and pulled him to safety and onto the ship. Incredibly, he rescued the same pilot 3 separate times. Leon also served on the USS Sabine, USS Melvin, and USS Tomahawk. While serving on the USS Missouri, instead of watching the official Japanese surrender on the deck, Leon took a crew into Japanese soil off Tokyo Bay and rescued former POWs. Leon received the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 3 bronze stars, the Philippine Liberation Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
In 1950, Leon returned to OSU where he had been offered to teach in the Student Teacher Training Center at Hilliard High School preparing vocational agriculture teachers and cooperative extensive agents. While serving as the FFA advisor at the high school, he hosted students and teachers from Morocco, Tunisia, Australia, Korea, Turkey, Egypt, Finland, Burma, Germany, India, Greece, Pakistan, Wales, Brazil, Japan, Belgium, Denmark, France, El Salvador, China, Saudi Arabia, and Italy. He believed there was always room for one more at the dinner table. In 1960 he joined the Agricultural Education Department as a Professor on the OSU campus and remained there until his retirement in 1986, earning his Master’s (1954) and Doctorate (1964) degrees. He served as editor of the Ohio Agricultural Education News and contributed over 40 professional articles in the agricultural education field. He received considerable recognition as a teacher educator that included serving as President of the Ohio Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, U.S. Agricultural Honor Society, Gamma Sigma Delta, Phi Delta Kappa, Ohio Distinguished Service Award in Vocational Education, Honorary American Farmer Degree, National Research and Training Educator of India 1967, OSU Teaching Award of Merit 1969, listed in U.S. Leaders and Educators 1971, Who’s Who in the Midwest 1972, Ohio Vocational Educator of the Year 1979, Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame inductee.
In 1965 when the U.S. Agency for International Development asked OSU for a team to go to India, Leon was chosen to participate in starting a vocational program for boys and girls at the primary, secondary, high school, and college levels (this was a radical idea in the days when girls were not educated in India). The concept was so successful that he later traveled to Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Sri Lanka, and Lesotho to assist in similar programs. Leon, Ginger, and their two children spent the next two years in Bhubaneswar (eastern India). He started the first women’s high school basketball team in the area and was instrumental in organizing participation of women around various school campuses.
Leon was inducted into the Hilliard Senior Citizen Hall of Fame in 1994 to recognize his service to the city for 50+ years. In addition to presenting him with a plaque, the city re-named a street after him, and a flag flew over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. His service can be seen through his work with the Hilliard United Methodist Church, Kiwanis, Hilliard Historical Society, American Legion, Freemasons, and Franklin County Fair. During his retirement years, Leon enjoyed traveling with friends and family, enjoyed OSU football games, being a rock hound with a world class rock collection and making jewelry, gardening, and playing a round or two of golf.
Leon certainly paid it forward. His influence and inspiration touched the lives of many former students, his mentorship and guidance were greatly appreciated, he encouraged students that laid the foundation for today’s CFAES (College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at OSU), his leadership in microteaching, contributions he had in the successes of professional careers and personal lives, hundreds of Ag teachers in Ohio have been forever impacted by his knowledge and they in turn have influenced thousands of students. Hence his life of service lives on all throughout Ohio, the United States, and the world. Leon was one of the most kind hearted gentleman, a hero to his children and grand-children, and was loved and respected by many.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Leon’s honor to World Neighbors (www.wn.org), 1‑800-242-6387. Their programs help transform communities to become self-sufficient and fall under 4 thematic areas: sustainable agriculture and rural livelihoods, community-based natural resource management, community, and reproductive health with gender equity cutting across all the themes.