Great Barrington — Leon Sarin of Great Barrington, Mass., formerly of Willimantic, Conn., died peacefully at home on April 14, 2017 after a long illness. Born in 1929 in Worcester, Mass., he was the son of Harry and Ida Sarin, both of whom imigrated from Russia in the early 1900s. He grew up in New Britain, Conn., and obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from the University of Connecticut. He was awarded a number of fellowships to continue his graduate studies at Brown, Yale, the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
In the Army during the Korean War, he taught courses in history, economics and government at the Department of the Armed Forces Information School in Fort Slocum, N.Y. He continued his early teaching career at Farmington High School and at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs, Conn., where he taught for eight years. Many of his students from that time remember him fondly as a dynamic and passionate teacher and a powerful influence on their thinking and intellectual development. He went on from there to teach history at the Universities of Hartford, Connecticut and Yale, and then to Eastern Connecticut State University where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in history for 28 years, retiring in 1994. He founded and directed Eastern’s Canadian Studies Program, and was deeply engaged with students in the History Club and the Canada Club as an advisor and mentor. To Leon, education was the gateway to a better and richer life, promoting justice, tolerance, civic responsibility and appreciation for history, art and culture.
His passion for teaching and his dedication to the ideals of American democracy led to active involvement in the community and politics. Warm and witty, his wonderful gift of humor was the great leveler that allowed him to engage with nearly everyone he met, respecting and valuing differences and recognizing the uniqueness of each individual.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Phillips and three daughters and their husbands: Judy and George Murray of Hudson, Ohio; Janet and Arnie Brandyberry of Simsbury, Conn., and Jessica and Jeff Perry of Salem, Mass. He also leaves his grandchildren Elizabeth, George Jr. and Charles Murray in Ohio, his sister Anita and Meyer Goldberg, and their families, all of the greater Los Angeles area.
We are deeply grateful for his devoted caregivers, notably Mara Smith and Christine Ahoussi.
SERVICES: A celebration of Leon’s life and legacy will be held at St. James Place in Great Barrington on May 6th at 2 p.m.
If you wish, please direct any memorial contributions to the Fairview Dialysis Center through FINNERTY & STEVENS FUNERAL HOME, 426 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230, who is caring for the arrangements. To send remembrances to his family or sign the guestbook please go to www.finnertyandstevens.com.