Paul Bernie Leiter, a Toledo-area psychologist and onetime English teacher who was fond of jazz and horse racing, died Saturday in his South Toledo home. He was 73.
The cause of death wasn't immediately known, but Ann Sanford, a longtime companion, said that in the last seven years, he suffered a stroke and underwent heart-bypass surgery.
Mr. Leiter, a lifelong Toledoan who went by his middle name, made friends easily and was well known for his flamboyant white coif, Ms. Sanford said.
He once worked in a methadone clinic and was a champion of the downtrodden, she said. "He would have people walk up to him on the street that he had taught 40 years ago or who had been patients of his, and they'd tell him how he changed their lives," she said.
But Mr. Leiter also enjoyed living it up.
"He loved the good things in life," said Chase Clements, a retired Blade staff writer and boyhood friend with whom Mr. Leiter co-hosted The Sounds of Jazz on radio station WTOD during the 1950s.
"There was nothing he liked better than having a winner at the horse track, then going out and having a good meal and listening to jazz afterward."
Mr. Leiter annually attended the New Orleans Jazz Festival on the first Saturday in May. During last year's trip, Ms. Sanford said, Mr. Leiter was devastated by the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, but his poor physical condition kept him from joining a volunteer clean-up group.
While the jazz festival conflicted with the Kentucky Derby, Mr. Clements said, the annual horse race in Louisville was too crowded an event to suit Mr. Leiter's tastes.
Ms. Sanford said Mr. Leiter told her of once winning $30,000 on a horse bet, and she was there when he brought in a $1,500 winner at the Queen's Plate stakes, the first jewel of Canadian horse racing's Triple Crown, in Toronto.
Musically, Mr. Leiter was fond of "old blues men" like Dr. John and Doc Cheatham, Ms. Sanford said, and he treasured a 20-minute chat he arranged with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis just a week before his death while on a trip to New York.
A 1951 graduate of Woodward High School, Mr. Leiter's college years at the University of Toledo were interrupted by a Korean War stint in the U.S. Army, which assigned him to working on the newspaper Stars & Stripes in Japan.
Ms. Sanford said she did not know when he ultimately got his bachelor's degree or a master's that followed it, but Mr. Leiter completed doctoral studies in psychology at Ohio State University in 1972.
From the early 1970s on, he was a psychologist in a group medical practice in Monclova Township headed by psychiatrist Dr. Lurley Archambeau.
During the 1950s, Mr. Leiter taught at Jones Junior High and volunteered at Court Appointed Special Advocates. He later worked at the Buddha Drug Clinic on Dorr Street.
Surviving are his daughter, Elizabeth Benedict; sister, Linda Nycz, and a grandson.
Visitation will be in the Coyle Funeral Home after 2 p.m. today. Funeral services will begin at 4 p.m. tomorrow in the mortuary.
The family suggests tributes to the Victory Center, Court-Appointed Special Advocates, or the Toledo Sight Center.
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