CHAMPAIGN – Leo Harris Rector, affectionately known as Papa Leo, part of the greatest generation that ever lived, left his loving family and friends to take his place in heaven on Saturday (Nov. 21, 2015).
Leo was born on Aug. 18, 1919, near Afton, Okla. He was the son of John F. and Edna Harris Rector. Leo graduated from Urbana High School in 1938 and completed his junior year at the University of Illinois in forestry before he was drafted into the military in June 1941. Leo graduated from Officer Candidate School in October 1942 and served as company commander of the 1751st Ordnance Supply Company of the 8th Air Force, 388 Bomb Group in England from April 1943 to June 1945. Leo was released from service, achieving the rank of major, on May 3, 1946.
Leo married his true love and best friend, Juanita Fern Acton, whom he lovingly called his "little bird," on Aug. 3, 1947, at No. 10 church near Armstrong. He was a caring and giving father to three very active boys, Michael, Carl and Jon.
Leo owned and operated "Rectors on West Church," an ice cream and sandwich shop on West Church Street in Champaign, from 1946 to 1952. Leo began his long career with Eisner Food Stores in 1952, beginning as store manager and rising quickly to head grocery buyer for Eisner Jewel Food Stores. He retired in 1981.
Leo was active with The Boy Scouts Arrowhead Council for many years. He was proud that he was an Eagle Scout and was so proud that his sons, Michael and Jon, also achieved that honor.
Leo was a member of several organizations which included the American Legion, Ansar Shrine, C-U Elks, University Club and the Masonic Lodge of which he was a life member.
Leo was also a member of First Presbyterian Church in Champaign.
Leo and Juanita performed their last dance together in December 2014 at a family wedding in Champaign after dancing for many years with the University Club and C-U Elks Club.
Leo was always the consummate gentleman, and even when his mind was stripped of all memory and cancer took hold of his body, he still was so appreciative of everything others did for him and never forgot the words "please" and "thank you."
Leo was preceded in death by his parents, John and Edna Rector; and his siblings, Bernice LaFuze, Fern Atwood, Dennis Rector, Earl Rector, John Rector and Orton Rector. Leo's greatest loss was his son, Carl, who died from leukemia at the age of 13.
Survivors include his wife, Juanita Acton Rector; sons, Michael Rector (Ellen) of West Richland, Wash., and Jon Rector (Cathy) of Champaign; grandchildren, David Rector of West Richland, Wash., Jason Rector (Lisa) of Champaign, Collin Rector of Clarksville, Tenn., Brian Rector of Champaign, Aaron Adsit (Helen) of Seattle, Wash., and Colleen Adsit Stoltz (Michael) of Great Falls, Va.; and great-grandchildren, Kynzee Rector of Champaign, Sophia Stoltz and William Stoltz, both of Great Falls, Va.; and his brother, Paul Rector of Champaign.
Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, at Morgan Memorial Home, 1304 Regency Drive West, Savoy, with Masonic Rites at 3:30 p.m.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in Champaign. Burial with military honors will follow at Collison Cemetery in Collison.
A heartfelt thank you to the caregivers at Aspen Creek, Carle Hospice and Age Wise Care Management.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children's Hospital, P.O. Box 50, Memphis, TN 38101-9929, or to Boy Scouts of America, 3301 Farber Drive, Champaign, IL.