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Rev. Leon C. Kess, Jr.

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The Rev. Leon C. Kess, Jr., 88, a retired Elder, died Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, the anniversary of his father’s death.  A Celebration of Life service was held Dec. 30 at Queens Chapel UMC in Beltsville with Drs. Gregory and Delila Parham officiating. Also participating were the Revs. Ianther Mills, George DeFord, pastors from other denominations and family.

Leon Columbus Kess was born Dec. 9, 1929, in Baltimore, to the late Leon Columbus Kess Sr. and Sarah Hooks Kess, one of five siblings. He was educated in the Baltimore school system, attended Washington Bible College, Baltimore Community College and Morgan State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. At Morgan State he was an outstanding track star.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army from 1951-1955 and in 1953 married his high school sweetheart Letitia Louise Leeper, who grew up in the same Fairfield community he did. They had five children.

While serving in Linz, Austria, in 1954, he heard the call to ministry and upon discharge began serving as associate pastor at the CME church in his hometown community. He served in various capacities in the CME churches until 1970, when he began as Minister of Visitation at Ames UMC. From 1974 to 1983, he was appointed as senior pastor of the South River Charge of Annapolis, which included Chews UMC, Hope UMC and St. Mark UMC. In 1983 he became senior pastor of Queen’s Chapel UMC and remained there until he retired 17 years later. After retirement (2000) he served in ministerial roles at Mt. Zion UMC in Ellicot City, Locust UMC and Mt. Zion UMC in Magothy

In 1987, he was declared legally blind, but with the help of his wife, continued his studies and received his M. Div. from Howard University in 1990. He officially transferred into the Baltimore-Washington Conference in 1990 and his credentials were accepted in 1993.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, five children: Terrence Calvin Kess (Cheryl), Saundra Florence Kess Vitch (Roland), Gayle Cynthia Kess, Rev. Dr. Lavonia Elizabeth Kess McIntyre (Victor) and David Jonathan Kess; nine grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, a goddaughter, Pamela Fraizer Richardson; and adopted sons: Minister Taricio Simms and Rev. Jeffrey Smith.

Condolences may be sent to his wife, Letitia L. Kess, at 6211 Pimlico Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21209.