Bob de Leon: RIP

I’ll tell ya right now, this is not my typical blog post. Yet, it’s one I feel compelled to write and share. I wish, though, I didn’t have to do so.

The Houston Creative Community lost a good and talented designer and thinker last week in Bob de Leon. I lost a good friend.

Bob de LeoonHe was way too young to leave us, but, then, we didn’t have much to say about the departure date. Thank God he did not suffer or linger. As I understand it, from attending his memorial service yesterday, he was home alone, quietly sitting in a chair. Then, his time came and he was escorted up that VIP Staircase.

I’ve known Bob for bunches of years – we shared several in-depth phone conversations, chased that little white ball around the golf course a few times, and generally pushed each other to do better when it came time to deliver creative that would make a difference. He was, and probably still is, quite passionate about the world of advertising and creativity’s role in it. He also had little patience for those who didn’t share his beliefs (clients).

It was to this end that he joined with me and others in getting Only in Houston (OiH) on the right path in its formative years. Born out of the American Advertising Federation Houston, OiH’s guiding light was, and still is to a large degree, to promote the talent and creativity here in Houston, Texas, in a way so compelling that clients would not need to look (or spend) elsewhere for top notch creative for their advertising and marketing needs. Yeah, we were all pretty passionate about that.

But Bob conveyed his passion in a quiet, somewhat subdued manner. He was not the “rah-rah cheerleader” type. He didn’t need to be. Once you were in a conversation with him, his passion would sink into your inner depths, whether you believed him or not. He was a gentle persuader. And he always had the data to back it up.

His approach brings to mind the old ad slogan: “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”. We need more people like Bob in our profession!

Throughout his career, he maintained the respect of his clients and peers. He was thorough in his approach to solving the problem and very detailed oriented when developing the designs that would accompany his thoughts. He wasn’t just into “pretty pictures;” they had to serve a purpose. That’s a mark of a seasoned designer, a creative thinker.

Though I never flew with him, Bob was an avid flyer of sailplanes (gliders, those without engines) and loved participating in competitions across the country. He was also very dedicated (again, the passion) to his work with prison ministries and had been serving in this capacity for several years.

Quoting from a poem written by an American aviator and poet, John Gillespie Magee, Jr., that was read at the service yesterday, this sounds like something Bob would have had on display in his cockpit (I don’t know that he didn’t):

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue,

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.

Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I think that happened last week when he was taken home. Bob, we miss you. Peaceful travels, my friend.


4 thoughts on “Bob de Leon: RIP

  1. I had the privilege to work with Bob too few times in the 90’s. Your tribute is well done. You are so correct that Houston has lost one its finest creative talents. God’s speed, Bob.

  2. This is a beautiful tribute, Joe. Bob was a pretty neat guy and I am so sad that we have lost him far too soon.

  3. I was married to Bob for a few years and loved him very deeply. He was everything everyone has said about him. I’m sure he would be so pleased to know how much he was liked and is missed. I have been grieving his parting, and I comfort myself with my memories.

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