In Memoriam: Paul de Leon (1945-2023)

September 6, 2023

It is with heavy hearts and profound sadness that we announce the passing of Paul de Leon, the Director of Finance & Operations for the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Paul left us on Thursday, August 31st, 2023, bequeathing a legacy of kindness, humour and unwavering dedication to his colleagues and his work.

Paul came into this world on Valentine's Day in 1945, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He spent his formative years in Minneapolis, before furthering his education in Paris and Barcelona. He then got sidetracked with the travel industry which brought him to the frigid cities of Winnipeg and later Edmonton, Alberta. He eventually woke up to the beauty of Vancouver and made it his home. Paul started employment at UBC in 2004.

As a colleague and friend, Paul was unparalleled. His generosity knew no bounds, freely offering his assistance to anyone who sought it. In the face of daunting work challenges or system errors, he remained a pillar of calm, preserving the sanity of those around him. He was the one who would drive people home safely when they were stranded and would share treats from his lunches. His care and thoughtfulness for the department were unwavering.

Paul's sense of humour was legendary. His wit was cheeky, sarcastic, and absolutely hilarious. He possessed the rare gift of finding absurdity in any situation, lifting our spirits and making us laugh, even during the most trying times.

Beyond his work, Paul had a passion for life. He cherished his chosen close-knit family, relished fine dining, had a love for motorcycles, clothes, shoes, and jewelry, and harboured an insatiable delight in exploring different countries, cultures, and sights. He took great pleasure in sharing these experiences with others, bringing back trinkets and souvenirs for his colleagues after his international travels and regaling them with stories of his adventures. This fascination and proficiency with languages and cultures (such as learning how to address staff with international morning greetings), was central to how he celebrated the diversity of his colleagues' backgrounds, as well as learning the language of the countries he visited.

We will forever remember Paul for his kindness, happiness, generosity, and profound respect for everyone he worked with in the Physics & Astronomy Department and throughout UBC. He was not just a colleague but a dear friend to many, and his absence is already deeply felt.

Paul de Leon: loved, respected, missed.
-    The Department of Physics & Astronomy


We thank Randall Eng and Marna Macdonald for their help in preparing this announcement.