Litsey Leon Zellner, 83, of Wilson, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on Sept. 18, 2018.
He was raised in Ardmore, by his parents John Litsey and Fannie Elizabeth Zellner, where he grew to love the land and working on the family dairy farm. He graduated as valedictorian of Plainview High School in 1952. Leon went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Oklahoma State University and a master’s in sanitary science from the University of Oklahoma.
He began his 30-year career as a sanitarian with state health department and retired as a Navy Captain and Level-6 Commissioned Core Officer in the Public Health Service. He served as Regional Director of the Radiological Health Program of the FDA, and also spent years working with FEMA. His Public Health Service uniform is displayed in Ardmore’s Greater Southwest Historical Museum.
Leon’s work took him and his family all over the country, from Ardmore, Guymon, Norman, and Oklahoma City, to Gaithersburg, Md.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Atlanta, Ga.; Great Falls, Va; Nashville, Tenn.; Hanover Park, Ill.; and Richardson, Texas; before he finally retired to his beloved home in Carter County. He was happiest working the land and sharing time, as well as an ornery sense of humor, with his family, who adored him. He also loved spending time with friends at the local donut shop and Lone Grove Senior Center, and made a daily practice of it.
Leon is survived by Beverly Ann Zellner, his loving wife of 62 years; his sister Elizabeth Saylors;  his four children: Cathy Lee Masella, Terri Lynne Willis, Susan Elizabeth Zellner-Hall, and John Matthew Zellner; nine grandchildren: Joshua, Anthony, and Justin Masella; Christopher Willis; Sarah and Jonathan Hall; and Matthew, Mallory, and John Zellner; and 14 great-grandchildren: Avaleigh, Jackson, Genevieve, Kealand, Haley, Dakota, Mariella, Beverly, George and Sophia Masella; Madeline and Lakeston Willis; and Jaden and Josalyn Carbajol. Leon was preceded in death by his parents, John Litsey and Fannie Elizabeth Zellner, sisters, Mona Wood and Martha May Rudd; and his precious grandson, Nicholas David Willis.
Leon was a kind and generous man who loved giving of his time, efforts, and possessions to others. Although his own home in Ardmore was destroyed in the 2009 tornado, he privately helped others to recover in their time of need. He spent time volunteering with his local chapter of Casa, advocating for children who had experienced abuse or neglect. And he was always there for anyone who needed him. He was a one-in-a-million, a true “character,” and he will be greatly missed by his friends and family.
Services will be held at Craddock Funeral Home Chapel on at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24. Visitation will be from 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Craddock Funeral Home. Grandsons Joshua and Anthony Masella, Christopher Willis, Matthew and John Zellner, Jonathan Hall, and great-nephew Andrew Fisher will serve as pallbearers.
Online condolences can be made at