About 15 years ago, when I first met Leland Mebine, he was a mere 85 years of age. My wife and I were attending a local event and she remarked about how vigorous the man appeared to be. He was moving about the room clasping hands and chatting amiably with the other guests.
Although it was evident he wasn’t a young man, his sparkling personality and intellectual discourse belied his status as an octogenarian. His laser beam smile and firm handshake was a clear indication that he was a man of substance. A couple of minutes with him was all you’d need to realize that this guy was a lexicon of information and first-hand experience. Leland is an example to the senior citizens of the world that age is just a number and it shouldn’t be used to stereotype people in order to place them in categories that define them.
The mature among us are more than just a rich and important resource; they are also a living connection to our past. Their wisdom and intimate knowledge of our history is a priceless gift from which we all can benefit. Wouldn’t you rather talk to someone who had actually lived through historical times, instead of talking to someone who only wrote about it from bits of information he was able to find during a research project? It’s become axiomatic that when you meet, shall I say, a “seasoned” individual, you have a treasure trove of history standing before you. Those who have been there and done that are veritable encyclopedias in the flesh.
In the years that followed, Annette and I would run into Leland frequently at Rotary meetings, local performing arts playhouses, Summit Club events and other civic and cultural gatherings too numerous to mention. Also too numerous to fit in one column is his amazing life experience. From his earlier years of service in the Navy during the Second World War, to his work as biochemist for NASA, to a research and development position with the U. S. Air Force, Leland’s life has been anything but boring. He moved to our town about 30 years ago, hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since. His local experience over the years includes service on the Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission, the Town Council, the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of the Flower Mound Library, just to name a few.
In addition to all his other incredible accomplishments, he developed a passion for painting that includes scores of portraits and landscapes. If constant activity, a positive attitude and a ready smile for everyone he meets are the secrets to long life, then Leland could very well live forever. Celebrating his 100th birthday on Wednesday, June 26, this human dynamo will honored during a special event at Salerno’s Restaurant in Flower Mound. If past is indeed prologue, we’ll be seeing Leland at many more events in the years to come. In other words, we will continue to be blessed by a man who could teach us all a lesson about public service and community participation. If we had more like him this would be a friendlier and happier world.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.