Obituary: Leobardo Perez-Rivas, 1942‑2021 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Leobardo Perez-Rivas, 1942‑2021

Vermont captured the heart of a devoted father and man of the world

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Leobardo Perez-Rivas - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Leobardo Perez-Rivas

Leobardo "Leo" Perez-Rivas passed away on February 8, 2021, at age 78. He was born near the Andes in a little village called Pueblo Nuevo in the state of Merida, Venezuela, on September 12, 1942. His life was cut short while living in Seville, Spain, when he became ill from COVID-19.

Leo was the third of 10 children. He was raised in Venezuela and attended Liceo Libertador school before completing a degree in economics at the University of the Andes in 1965. He was then awarded a grant to travel and study in England. He completed a master’s degree in economics at the University of Exeter and a second master’s degree at the University of Cambridge.

Whilst at Cambridge, Leo met Juliet Adamson, whom he married at St. Wulfram’s church in Grantham, Lincolnshire, in 1970. In the same year, the couple settled in Caracas, Venezuela. They had three daughters (Laura, Sally and Clara) and a son (Leo). In 1983, the couple moved back to England; they divorced in 1984. Following the divorce, Leo moved first to Madrid, Spain, and then, in 1988, to Charlotte, Vt., with his children. When asked what attracted him to Vermont, Leo always referred to a National Geographic magazine issue with beautiful images of fall and covered bridges. Vermont captured his imagination as an ideal place to raise his children.

Leo dedicated himself to a range of businesses throughout his working life. In Venezuela, he became the company treasurer of Alcasa, one of the world’s largest aluminum production companies. In Madrid, Leo set up TeleMensaje, which pioneered the importation and supply of pagers to Spanish doctors and other health care workers. In Vermont, he was best known for owning Marbles Store in Charlotte, a local country store and gas station. He worked there with a farmer from Charlotte, whom he regarded highly, and his children enjoyed pitching in. Leo loved running Marbles, especially as he became a well-known and much-loved member of the community. In 2004, Leo moved to work at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., where he worked in the publications department until his retirement in 2014. He was a cherished colleague and friend to many.

Leo returned to Spain once he had retired, this time to Seville, with a long-term plan to settle in England close to his three daughters who had since moved there. Sadly, this long-term plan never came to fruition due to the complexities of European immigration. Despite the geographical challenges experienced in later life, no journey was too long to see his beloved family. Leo rarely missed a birthday, holiday or family gathering.

Leo led an active lifestyle. A keen runner and cyclist, he completed the Caracas Marathon in 1983 and the New York City Marathon in 1989. He was also a motoring enthusiast who owned a number of sports cars and his beloved yellow Morgan. In Vermont, he owned a boat, Sunshine, and enjoyed many joyful and adventurous days sailing around Lake Champlain with his family.

Leo possessed an independent, creative, adventurous and idealistic spirit. A true man of the world, he was interested in global politics, economics and current affairs. Raised a Catholic, Leo was a man of faith and continued to attend church consistently throughout his life. Don Quixote de la Mancha was Leo’s favorite story, he kept an old edition of this wherever he went. Leo loved antiques; over the years he collected a special model train set, which, to his children’s delight, he unpacked and assembled at Christmas.

Above all, Leo was a devoted and adoring father who raised his children and inspired them to think openly and creatively and to pursue adventure. The love that Leo felt for all his children, and later his grandchildren, was the true "engine" of his life.

Leo is survived by his four children, as well as five grandchildren (Tily, Michael, Ellis, Hunter and Odin), seven brothers and sisters in Venezuela, and many great-nephews and -nieces living around the world. He will be greatly missed by family and friends.

A memorial service was recently held in Merida, Venezuela. Leo will be laid to rest in Lincolnshire, England. Donations in honor of Leo’s memory may either be made to the Vermont Chapter of the American Heart Association or to the Lewis Creek Association.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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