The joyous presence, kindness and good humor of James will be with us forever.
  • 48 years old
  • Born on September 7, 1962 .
  • Passed away on July 4, 2011 .

The Leck family asks that donations in his memory be made to Heifer International

The Memorial Service was held on July 12th, 2011 at the Boston University Marsh Chapel. To read eulogies from Deidre Colby Sato and Amir Reza go to the Stories section.


For those of us who were blessed to have known James, we know that the intersection of our lives with his has brought us laughter, joy, friendship, knowledge, skills, and inspiration that will remain forever in our hearts and minds. James was that solid rock in the field of International Education and beyond, for so many years, often showing us the way by inspiring us. He was a kind soul whose deep passion for cross-cultural interaction touched the lives of thousands of international students, scholars, and colleagues from around the globe. He was often described as larger than life.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have been enriched by that shining light. Though his time with us has passed too quickly and was much too short, all of us who were mentored by James know that he left in us the pursuit of excellence, the wealth of friendship, and the wisdom to have values to live by, as well as skills to live on.
There are so many of us who cared so deeply about James and thousands who have humorous, genuine, and lively stories about the man whose life embodied so much compassion. We lost an amazing light in this world; we invite you to keep his memory alive by sharing messages, pictures, stories, videos, and more so that we can be comforted by our common love for James. May he rest in peace.
Amir Reza, July 2011





Posted by Roland Hooker on September 10, 2018
Your time on this earth truly inspired us to courageously go out and once and for all prove ourselves. PS. The flex tape did not work, but thanks for the suggestion.
Posted by Sylvia Cowan on July 4, 2018
You would be glad to know that your students continue your work, with a sense of purpose, dedication, and humor. You are missed, and your memory lives on.
Posted by Amir Reza on July 4, 2018
This has been a turbulent year for international education and especially at these challenging times I miss your eloquent voice of reason, compassion, and humor. Miss you and thinking of you always, James.
Posted by Missy Gluckmann on July 4, 2018
Still hard to believe you're not here. Your passion for work and life, your tremendous heart, your smile and laugh - we all miss you so. Wishing you peace, James.
Posted by Amir Reza on July 4, 2017
Thinking of you today, my friend. With fond memories of shared conferences, laughter, and enlightening conversations. Your legacy lives on as our field brings people from many corners of the world together in hope of a more peaceful future. Miss you.
Posted by Sylvia Cowan on July 5, 2016
Remembering all the contributions you made to students with your wisdom, your light, your wonderful sense of humor, and your deep caring about sharing cultures and people around the world. Your legacy lives on in the lives of those you touched so profoundly.
Posted by Amir Reza on July 4, 2016
Thinking of you and remembering all the ways you cared about the mobility of people from all corners of the globe to come together to live and learn and to build a more peaceful world. A legacy that is so important and relevant today. Miss you!
Posted by Amir Reza on July 5, 2015
Miss you and think of you often. As the U.S. celebrates Independence Day, I think of all of the international students and scholars who were introduced to U.S. culture and customs through your education and how we came to learn about the U.S. and its kind citizens because of your care, humor, and welcoming hugs! Your legacy lives on through our lives and you are remembered fondly.
Posted by Amir Reza on July 7, 2014
Almost every week I cross a path in my work that reminds me of you. As I strive to be the educator that you were to so many of us - helping young people from around the globe with your wisdom, humor, and kindness; you continue to be a guiding light as I think through the challenges of work and life - what would James do? That helps me gain perspective. I miss you at each and every gathering of international educators and know that your strong legacy is always there.
Posted by Deirdre Sato on July 9, 2013
Thought of you so many times over the holiday, my friend. Your photo still looks down from above my computer, there as if to cajole and admonish me to be compassionate and thoughtful, but lighten up - some of many things I learned from James Leck! Missing you.
Posted by Amir Reza on July 5, 2013
Thinking of you today as always and all the way that you gracefully touched all of us who know you. Had a dream about you last night, even though I'm half-way around the world! There you were with the microphone at a conference giving us sage, humorous, and humane advice on those complex international education questions - classic James Leck! Miss you
Posted by Charles Leck on July 4, 2013
Hey pardner, you are missed indeed. So many events and places in my life remind me of you. I hope it is beautiful out there among the stars (it must be, musn't it?). Your ol' uncle misses you so much.
Posted by Sylvia Cowan on July 4, 2013
"James' vitality, caring, wisdom and laughter are forever with us. His sense of humor still brings a smile to my face. His passion for international education and students remain in memory, and in the lives of those he touched. We at Lesley are so grateful to have known him, and to have learned from him."
Posted by Missy Gluckmann on February 25, 2013
Thought about what we're doing to change the world today and missed you, friend. Still is so hard to believe that you're not out there making people smile with your magic way. I continue to have your energy inspire my work and my way. You are deeply missed by so many.
Posted by Judy Foester on January 5, 2013
What a privilege to have been Jim's teacher. So thoroughly good, with no guile at all. What a sense of humor. What an ability to sense and care for everyone around him. I used to play the kazoo all the time at school. One day, Jim knocked on the classroom door and came in with two kazoos, one in each nostril and proceeded to play "Dueling Banjos". He was a miracle worker.
Posted by Sylvia Cowan on September 7, 2012
"Your spirit of caring deeply, your effectiveness with international students and university staff at all levels, your humanness with all you met, your wonderful sense of humor--all these live on in the lives and work of Lesley University Intercultural students you influenced so skillfully. We remember you with joy and gratitude for the wonderful gifts you gave us so freely. Thank you!"
Posted by Amir Reza on July 19, 2012
Your spirit and wisdom is always present as I engage with colleagues, students, anf friends. Just returned from a visit to Iran and no surprise that you have fans all around the globe that sorely miss you. You remain in our hearts and minds and I am grateful for all that you shared with us. Your humor and insight are constantly with me. Thank you, James!
Posted by Deirdre Sato on July 5, 2012
Jim, dear one,
It has been a year without you, old friend.  I think of you so often and wish for your wise counsel and unfailing ability to make me laugh. Missy and I exchanged messages about you yesterday - look in on us sometimes. Gone but never, ever forgotten.
Posted by Dan Pirbudagov on July 5, 2012
We really love and miss you, James! Your spirit will always be present with me, thank you for everything you did!
Posted by Karen DeMonte on July 4, 2012
I think you often and can't believe it's been a year since you left us. I know we will see you again, that you are watching over us, and that you are fine. Time spent with you was always special, even if it was not enough.

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss
Posted by Charles Leck on July 4, 2012
Hey, kid. You're missed here m'boy. I leave you up on the list of those who follow my blog cause I have a sneaking suspicion you're still reading. I can't -- just can't -- take you off the list. As I write, your mom and dad are in Maine, thinking of you with wonderful, loving memories. Sleep sweetly. I miss you so. Uncle Charlie
Posted by Kimberly Willard on September 7, 2011
Remembering Jimmy on his birthday--a friend who was always loyal, whose sense of humor diffused difficult situations with ease, a loving, warm person who loved people, whose many gifts blessed so many. I miss you Jimmy. Thank you for being a part of my life.
Posted by Karen DeMonte on July 15, 2011
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." By this measure, Jim achieved success tenfold. I am blessed to have grown up with Jimmy and had him in my life. I Thank God for sharing him with us.
Posted by Sylvia Cowan on July 14, 2011
We were so fortunate to know James, and have him teach at Lesley. He generously shared his wonderful talents and guidance with the Intercultural Relations Master's students, who frequently commented on his engaging teaching and his remarkable sense of humor! Thank you, James.
Posted by Dawn Wooten on July 12, 2011
I was so fortunate to have James as a coach and trainer when I entered the IE field. His style of teaching and mentoring made me feel as if I could be as good an advisor as he was. I will be forever grateful for knowing him.
Posted by Michael Smithee on July 12, 2011
James seemed to remember everything. And, he was jovial and serious at the same time; a hard combination not to like. I last saw him in January 2010 when I visited his office at BU. He was so generous with his time. Indeed, he will be missed.
Posted by June Sadowski-Devarez on July 12, 2011
In Region X, we never really got over it when James left us for Region XI! But, he had to move on and share his "larger than life personality" with others. I've never seen a heart that had so much room as his!
He was the true embodiment of the best of our profession
Posted by Maggie Shirland on July 12, 2011
I feel so privileged to have worked with James. He was an amazing person with a magnetic personality, always making people laugh. He was a mentor, teacher, colleague and friend and I am so grateful for all he gave me. His passion and humor will be sorely missed.
Posted by Tracey Reza on July 11, 2011
I feel so fortunate to have met James, and privileged to have called him my friend. He was so fun to be around, so funny so often, and I am so appreciative for all the laughter.
Posted by Andrea Popa on July 11, 2011
James was such a force for good in the field of intl ed. Nurturer, mentor, teacher to young advisors, and an engaged, encouraging colleague to those more experienced. It seems unimaginable that his days with us have ended… I was so privileged to have walked with him for a time.
Posted by Cindy Whittenbury on July 11, 2011
Jimmy left an imprint on all of us. He was JOY, He was Happiness, He was Laughter. Always made you feel good when you were around him. And will always be fondly remembered as the best Teddy Bear Hugger of the Universe. May peace be with him, his wife, and his family.
Posted by Jamie Kendrioski on July 9, 2011
While I will forever miss his signature bear hugs, calm voice and unrelenting support, James' outrageous humor and passion for mentorship are forever a part of my life story. I have always felt deeply blessed and humbled by your friendship and faith in me. Thank you, James.
Posted by Dan Pirbudagov on July 8, 2011
James has been an extraordinary individual. He has touched lives of many people. He has been a role model for me. I will never forget his contagious enthusiasm, great sense of humor, passion in international education field, kindness of his heart, and altruism. He will be missed.

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