"We have truly lost one of our founding fathers," said the Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, university president. "Father Leeber not only helped to successfully launch Fairfield University, but his many years of dedicated service helped it to thrive. He will long be remembered through the countless lives he impacted as a priest, teacher and mentor."
During 45 years at Fairfield University, Leeber founded and chaired, for 26 years, the modern languages and literature department.
He also is credited with founding five varsity sports programs, and was chaplain and mentor to scores of student athletes. In 1947, he urged then-President James Dolan, S.J., to let him start a cross-country running team. He went on to found track, football, men's and women's swimming, and men's basketball programs at the university.
Athletic Director Gene Doris said, "Everyone just loved Father Leeber. He had a great sense of humor and a great loyalty to our student-athletes. They could always depend on him for his good counsel and encouragement."
Leeber retired from teaching in 1992, but remained a tutor and mentor to student athletes. He was chaplain to several teams, frequently traveling to away games.
Leeber entered the Jesuits in 1940 and was ordained a priest in 1953. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alumni Association's Hall of Fame and in 2003 was honored at the Fairfield Awards Dinner with the Honorary Alumnus Award. In 1992, the first scholarship was established in his name, and eight years later, a second scholarship was named for him.
A funeral Mass for Leeber will take place at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Campion Center, 319 Concord Road,Weston, Mass. A local memorial service will be held in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola on the Fairfield University campus during the fall semester.