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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
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.
Recent stories

Student Administrator

Shared by Judy Foester on January 5, 2013

Jim was a high school student.  His bearing, wisdom, caring and intuition combined to make him a professional educator, at the age of 17.  He loved our school and the people in it.  When he came to visit, most of the teachers treated him as an was just his natural polish that created this wonderful teddy bear friend and humor-filled cohort.  He could easily have managed the entire school district all before the age of twenty. 

As in Karen's story above, he would fling this old chemistry teacher over his hips and between his legs in a jitter-bug.  He'd play kazoos with me and entertained my classes with his "Dueling Banjos" rendition with a kazoo in each nostril.  In the brief seconds in which he was a guest in the room, somehow he made contact with every person in that room and communicated that he was aware of each and sensed their inner thoughts.  I have never known anyone with this penetrating love.

When John told me on Facebook about Jim's passing, I just melted (and still do) into a puddle of tears.  There is not a snippet written about him that is not true in every nuance and detail.  I can't imagine the pain of Sue, Jim's parents, Uncle Charlie, John and other members of the family.

How thankful I am that he worked with foreign students and imparted an impression so far from "The Ugly American" perception that much of the world sees.  I loved the 'Ice Ice Baby' video and wish I had been there to share in his continuing antics.  All men are NOT created equal....can you imagine if ALL men were Jim Lecks?  That is the kind of world for which we should strive.  The whole staff taking maternity leave?....that is typical of the kind of contagion Jim's humor spurred.  Long live that kind of contagion.

Thank God he walked among us.

Enveloped by his hugs!

Shared by Charles Leck on September 27, 2011

I liked reading the story by Tracy Reza (Master Hugger) about my nephew, Jimmy Leck. Oh, my! How he could put his arms around you and how loved you felt when he did it! It is a few months now since he moved on and out among the stars, but I miss him so incredibly much and find it difficult to believe he is no longer among us. I think of what Milton wrote…

“When once our heavn’ly-guided soul shall climb
Then all this earthy grossness quit
Attir’d with stars, we shall forever sit
Triumphing over Death, and Chance
                                           and thee, O Time

Jimbo was my man! I stubbornly refuse to let memories of him slip away. And, I cling savagely to the memories of his hugs! 

Jim Leck

Shared by Sue Griffin on July 20, 2011

            A long, long time ago in a place far, far away, when Jim first sashayed into Sue’s southern sphere, he was known by her extensive family simply as ‘The American’.  Any mention of ‘The American’ triggered loaded looks, with concern apparent, as it was wordlessly debated whether ‘he’ was good enough for our precious little gem, Sue.  There was some to-ing and fro-ing, some hithering and dithering but Jim and Sue hung in there and the day came when that ring of commitment was pushed over the knuckle of obstacles and Jim and Sue where triumphantly wed.

            As the years passed and the family became more and more familiar with Jim and his peculiarly wicked humour and unfailing kindness, as they recognized his devotion to Sue and his commitment to their union, they finally granted him that unmistakable mark of membership into the family fold – relentless and merciless teasing, as well as a nickname which invariably, for some peculiar reason, often ends up with your given name being ‘longened’ rather than shortened. And so, Jim became Jimbo.  Of course, there was no teasing that Jimbo did not give back in spades, no affection that he left untended, nor was a smile ever left furled when he was near which only served to make him even more adored by all, with the older generation referring to him, with visible softening, as Darling Jimbo; the younger ones, smile broad, as Uncle Jim. 

            There are those who fill their space in life inch by gingerly little inch.  Not Jim - he filled his in sweeping miles!  He committed unstintingly to his work, his colleagues and his students; he embraced his family and friends with generous affection; he entertained the room, any room, anywhere, with incisive intelligence, razor wit and startling mimicry, spreading contagious laughter like butter on warm toast, lifting loneliness, easing anxiety, welcoming all.

            But mostly, he loved Sue.  And for that he will always be remembered by the family with a full sun of love, a cloud of regret at a life cut far too short, and a rainbow of vivid memories that will hold Darling Jimbo right here forever, just where and when we need him most.


Cousin Adele Yin for Victor, Adele, Bili and Zoe Yin

Austin, Texas


10 July 2011