The best son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather in the world passed away on October 2, 2015. For the last several years, Leon fought valiantly against COPD and CHF.
Leon was born in Dallas, Texas, and as a youth made a name for himself as both a great athlete and hilarious prankster with a harmless gang named the Lakewood Rats. As a teenager, he met Paula Schepps, and the two began a lifelong journey and partnership together.
They married in Dallas on Christmas day in 1956, and moved to Houston in August of 1961 to found the southern division of their family’s business, Schepps Dairy. Though the move proved unlucky at first, with the moving company stealing all their possessions, the young couple was undeterred. As a consummate salesman and leader, Leon helped build what had been a small North Texas dairy into a statewide enterprise. Leon had the sawy and coaching skills of Vince Lombardi, and everybody who worked with him lived up to a potential they didn’t even know they had. Leon brought out the best in everybody. After three decades, Schepps Dairy was the largest independent dairy in the state when it sold.
Not to rest on their laurels, Leon and Paula embarked in a new direction in the packaging industry, where they worked side by side for almost another 20 years until selling that company to a private equity group.
In addition to enjoying entrepreneurism, Leon loved the countryside and being surrounded by animals and created a small zoo with numerous exotic animals including emus, deer, sheep, and rare birds in the heart of the city on Memorial Drive. Later he bought acreage and a John Deere tractor outside the city where he enjoyed mowing his property (and some of the city’s too when his wasn’t quite enough) while admiring his longhorn cattle and llamas. This lasted only until Paula put her foot down and made Leon trade the dirt and the critters for a residence in Cabo San Lucas where they lived quietly for many years. There, Leon made friends with the many whales that came by and swam in front of the Goldstein residence daily. Leon liked to say that the whales swam by to have coffee with him every morning.
Leon was a very generous civic leader, always involved in making Houston a better place to live. His love and pride for Houston was apparent in each step of Leon’s every endeavor. He was an avid member of the Houston Restaurant Association and was one of the pioneers of liquor by the drink, which became law in 1971.
Leon served on the Harris County Grand Jury, both as a member and as a commissioner, and later served as a Civil Service Commissioner. He helped found Crime Stoppers in Harris County in 1981. After serving on the board for many years, Crime Stoppers created the Leon Goldstein Award, presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to fighting crime in the greater Houston area.
Humorous until the end, Leon said that he was not afraid of dying; he just didn’t want to be there when it happened! Leon is preceded in death by his mother and father, Bess and Rubin Goldstein, and his brother Eddie Goldstein. Leon is survived by his wife Paula, daughter Shayna Andrews, son Bobby and daughter in-law Kim, grandchildren Lauren Goldstein Nussbaum and husband Scott, Cooper, Dane, Audrey, Ruby, Greta, and Maggie Goldstein, Sloane and Camille Andrews, his sisters Evie Goldstein Stone, Shari Goldstein Stern, Shirley Levin, sister-in-law Carol Goldstein, brother-in-law Marvin Levin, and numerous nieces and nephews. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Doctors Patrick Cook, Kenneth Lloyd, and Martin Poliak, the staff of St. Luke’s Hospital, and to the many care-givers, who have tended to Leon so diligently over the past many months.
Graveside service will take place at 4:00 pm, Sunday, October 4, 2015 at Beth Yeshurun Cemetery, 1037 N Post Oak Rd, Houston.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to The Houston Food Bank or the charity of your choice.