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Navy Vet, Founder of Richards High School Leo Club, Dies at 92

Oak Lawn-resident George L. "Len" Pearson Jr. was an inspiration to all. Visitation and funeral set for Monday and Tuesday.

George L. Pearson, Jr., pictured with his bride, Cecile, lived a life of service to others. | Supplied photo
George L. Pearson, Jr., pictured with his bride, Cecile, lived a life of service to others. | Supplied photo

Long-time Oak Lawn-resident, Navy veteran and Lions Club member George “Len” Pearson Jr. passed away at 92 after a long illness on April 4.

Feature writer Donna Vickroy, of Southtown-Star, described Pearson in a story this past February as, “an inspiration to us all.”

Len Pearson was born on the North Side of Chicago on Nov. 5, 1921. His parents moved to the Chicago Lawn neighborhood when he was child. After graduating from Linbloom High School, Pearson joined the U.S. Navy.

He went on to serve in the Navy, Merchant Marine and Navy Reserve in World War II and Vietnam.

Pearson married Cecile Mankowski and the couple settled in Oak Lawn, where they raised two sons.

In the early 1960s, Pearson was invited by Mayor Fred Dumke to join the Oak Lawn Lions Club. There began Pearson’s decades-long affiliation with the international service organization, where “he was always in a hurry to help someone,” his granddaughter Jane Turner told Southtown-Star in February.

Pearson served as as president and district governor of the Lions. In the aftermath of the Oak Lawn Tornado in 1967, he started the first Leo Club, the youth arm of the Lions Clubs, at Richards High School where he convinced young people that it was “hip to help people.”

“He helped everybody,” his son, George L. Pearson III said. “He would have been a millionaire if he hadn’t devoted all his spare time to the Lions and Richards’ Leo’s Club. He was the liaison to the Richards’ Leo Club for 40 years.”

Pearson leaves his wife, Cecile, his sons, George L. Pearson III (Maureen) and Robert S. Pearson; seven grandchildren, Jane (Dan) Turner, George L. (Nicole) Pearson IV, Amy E. (Chris) Hodson, Jeffrey S. Pearson, Karen Novak, Raymond Edling and Kristen Edling; and seven great grandchildren, Cole, Cade, Kaleigh, Kyle, Kendall, Jonathan and Elizabeth.

He is the cherished brother of June Hanley (the late Paul), Rhoda Sims (Tom), and the late Gladys Peterson (the late Jim), and uncle of many nieces and nephews.  

Visitation for Pearson is from 3 to 9 p.m. Monday, at Thompson-Kuenster Funeral Home, 5570 W. 95th St., Oak Lawn. Services will be held at 10 a.m., also at the funeral home. Interment is at Chapel Hill Gardens South.


The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Oak Lawn Richard High School Leo Club.


Online condolences can be left for the family at Legacy.com.


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