HARTWICK – Leon “Lee” A. Preston, 77, of Hartwick, who attended a one-room school in Westville and went on to a career as head of maintenance at The Lake Front Hotel, passed away peacefully Monday evening, June 24, 2019, with his children at his side, at Fox Hospital.
He was born Feb. 28, 1942, in Delhi, a son of Clara Tompkins. Clara married Charles Preston who adopted Lee and along with Clara raised him.
On Dec. 8, 1959, Lee married the love of his life, Bessie Belinda Gill, in a ceremony at the First Baptist Church of Hartwick. This was the beginning of a long and happy life together as they bought a home and raised their family in Hartwick. Lee still resided in the family home of over 50 years.
As a young child, Lee attended a one-room schoolhouse in Westville of which he shared many stories. He later attended Milford Central School.
For more than 40 years, Lee was employed at The Lake Front Motel in Cooperstown as head of maintenance. This was a job that he really enjoyed. He was a master of many skills and took pride in his work and encouraged all staff that he mentored to do the same.
Lee was a devoted family man. He had a great love for Bessie and his family. He was a selfless man that always gave more than he had to give. He looked forward to holidays and time spent together with those he loved. He was affectionately called “Poppy” by his grandchildren and “Pops” by his children. He was one of a kind-the mold was broken on him, in a good way.
Lee was very proud of his children and their accomplishments in life. He was also very proud of his grandchildren. He was very proud of and enjoyed his lunch-time phone calls with his grandson, Tyler. He was very proud of Kate’s educational accomplishments. He was also very proud of Amy as mom to his two great grandchildren.
He loved the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and climbing mountains in search of the perfect ginseng root. He shared his outstanding hunting skills with his children and grandson Tyler. In his younger adulthood, he enjoyed playing softball and was captain of his team. He wasn’t a very big guy, but he was a heck of a first baseman. He enjoyed a good baseball game on TV and loved to watch his Dodgers and Red Sox play ball.
Lee enjoyed sitting on his back porch watching the birds and enjoying a game of baseball being played by the neighbor children, Jaxon and Luci. He enjoyed visiting with his neighbors and his drives “around the hood”.
Lee is survived by his three children, Jeffrey S. Preston (Meg), Janet L. Preston (Tim McLean) and Pamela K. Preston (Ron Moore), all of Hartwick; three grandchildren, Tyler and Kate Preston of Hartwick and Amy Preston of Norwich; two great grandsons, Dante Cancho and Jameson Long; three step grandchildren; step great grandson Derek Moore and several other step great grandchildren; two brothers, Kevin Preston (Ella) of Middlefield and David Preston (Gaye) of Florida; a sister-in-law, Darlene Lance of Oneonta; a sister-in-law Carol Preston; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Lee is also survived by close friends Sandy Austin, Amy Field, Colleen Kukenberger, Rick Kleingardner and Ky Stickles. Lee had many friends as he had a compassionate heart and listening ear.
He was predeceased by his wife of 55 years, Bessie, who died May 13, 2015; their son, Keith A. Preston, who died July 21, 2009; his mother, Clara (Tompkins) Preston; his father, Charles Preston; and a brother, Ivan L. Preston, who died October 10, 2009.
We will not say goodbye as you will be with us every day; we will only say I love you and can’t wait to see you again!
In accordance with Lee’s wishes there will be no services. Remember your times spent with him, smile, and know he is at peace. The family may host a Celebration of Life to remember Lee at a later date.
The family would like to thank the fourth-floor staff at Bassett Hospital and the Unit 3 staff at Fox Nursing Home in Oneonta for the compassion and quality care provided to Lee these past few weeks.
Following the death of his son, Keith, a fund was established in his memory to assist those who wanted to experience Keith’s love of sports and the outdoors by attending DEC and sports camps. For those who wish to make a gift in memory of Lee, his family suggests that contributions be made to the Benefit of Keith Preston and sent to the Leatherstocking Regional Credit Union, 24 Glen Avenue, Cooperstown, NY 13326. Or, contributions may also be made to The Hartwick Rod and Gun Club, PO Box 251, Hartwick, NY 13348.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.