35th Anniversary: Moving On: Grace Leon

Grace Leon was unknown, but happy — until June 25, 2000. That was the day her great love — police officer Wayne Leon — was killed by a thug on the run. Since then, she has emerged as an advocate for people in uniform, a peer support system to those grieving the same loss she faced and an incredibly strong mother to the three children who were all under 6 years old when their father died.

We wrote about the woman that grief made her in January 2004 (“The State of Grace”). Since then, three more officers have been killed in the line of duty in Greater Cleveland. Grace has reached out to all three families. She was also pained to hear that her husband’s killer was allowed to get married while on death row. Aside from “the waste of our tax dollars” for the clergy and the additional security, it is simply not right. “Did he get to kiss his bride?” she asks. “How unfair is that?”

But there is happy news, too. Her children, now 10, 11 and 13, are all thriving, enjoying sports and their friends. Her oldest boy, according to his pediatrician, should be about as tall as his father. She sees Wayne emerging in her youngest boy, too. Her daughter is “wise beyond her years.” As busy as she is, Grace has squeezed out a bit of time to take classes at Cuyahoga Community College. Her goal is to become better equipped to counsel grieving people.

The day we called Grace to catch up with her, she turned 40. And she was happy about it. “To tell you the truth,” she said, “my 30s kind of stunk. I’m looking forward to good things in my life.”
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