Retired Col. Leon “Sonny” James Haskins of Fort Washington, Maryland, passed away unexpectedly at his residence on December 13, 2022. He was born on October 2, 1952, in Lynchburg, Virginia, to the late James Bradshaw Haskins, Sr., and Etta Mae Stratton Haskins. In addition to his parents, Leon was preceded in death by his brother, James Bradshaw Haskins, Jr., and four sisters, Peggy Jones, Joyce Ware, Janie Brown, and Eldridge Brown. He was succeeded in death by his sister, Barbara Ann Harris, just five days later. Leon’s untimely death has deeply saddened and shocked the family. Leon joined the Marine Corp in 1972 serving 30+ years before retiring as a Colonel in 2005. In 1981, he began his 30 year career with the Department of Defense (Department of the Navy) where he was the Director of Logistics for Ships, Boats, and Targets and the Special Operations Acquisitions Office. Military and professional alike, he was known for his incredible work ethic and attention to detail. He was meticulous, thorough, and took the time to mentor those around him. Well respected by all who worked with him -he encouraged everyone to do better, and led by example. Leon was an exceptional athlete. In high school, he played football, basketball, and track and field earning all-district and regional honors. He would continue his athletic career at Mansfield State College earning seven varsity letters as a student-athlete in basketball and track and field from 1973 to 1976. A four-year letter winner in track and field, and a two-time All-American, he finished fifth in the triple jump at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in 1976 with a leap of 48′ 9″, which is still the current school record. He also lettered three years in basketball, earning Honorable Mention All-Conference honors in 1976. In 1996, Mansfield State College inducted him into the Mansfield State College Sports Hall of Fame for basketball and track & field. Post college, Leon’s love for basketball continued as he was selected to play for the Marine Corp basketball team. He later went on to play for a competitive adult league with a close-knit team of guys affectionately referred to as the “Doowops”. Eventually, Leon replaced his jersey for a whistle excelling as a referee in both high school and college for the next 40+ years, leveraging his attention to detail and high basketball acumen. Leon would remain close with many of his teammates, coaches, and fellow referees for the remainder of his life. Sonny had a commanding presence about him, standing at 6’5 he was charismatic, and confident, some may even say intimidating. However, below the tough exterior he was a caring man who built countless meaningful relationships that spanned decades. He loved God, and has been a devout member of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church his entire life. He loved his family dearly and worked hard throughout his life to ensure they were always loved and cared for. In his later years, the Colonel took on a new role, one he was made for- grandfather. Never have you seen a grown man so smitten and proud of his 2 granddaughters Sloan and Londyn. Leon is survived by his son, Marcus White (Stacey) of Midlothian, VA; brothers, Houston Gary Haskins (Yolanda) of Evington, VA, and Bobby Stratton, Sr. (Mary) of Lynchburg, VA; sister, Norma Jean Gilbert (Lewis), Rustburg, VA,; two grandchildren (Sloan and Londyn); and a special friend, Deb Madkins; a host of nieces, nephews, and other relatives; and an abundance of friends who will miss him more than words can say.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Col. Leon Haskins can be made to The Marine Corps. Association or to Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Lynchburg Va.
The family will receive friends on January 6th from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm at Tharp Funeral Home in Lynchburg, VA. The funeral service will be conducted at 2 pm Saturday January 7th at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. With burial to follow in church cemetery.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.