Beloved FSU religion professor, columnist and sports fan Leo Sandon dies at 86

Beloved FSU religion professor, columnist and sports fan Leo Sandon dies at 86

Leo Sandon — pastor and chaplain, professor, author, lecturer, long-time Tallahassee Democrat columnist — died Tuesday, March 22, at the Tallahassee home he shared with his son, Stephen. He was 86.

The retired Florida State University professor of religion and FSU sports devotee also had been caregiver to his late wife of 45 years, Marvel Lou. He was beloved by his sons Steve and Philip and their families.

Sandon was born in Coffeyville, Kansas, though his future as a religious scholar and thinker would take him far. As part of his doctoral study at Boston University, he attended classes at Harvard Divinity School, where he made friends that would last a lifetime.

One of them was Professor Walter Moore, who preceded Sandon at FSU. Moore says that the FSU Department of Religion was established in 1965 and Sandon’s assumption of the FSU post of Chaplain in 1969, followed by a faculty position, were the first steps of a vibrant career that would continue for nearly four decades.

Moore notes that Sandon saw his role at Florida State University as all about service: “He became Director of American Studies; sat as a member of the Athletic Board; and was a Past President of the Faculty Senate.

“Yet, most important to Sandon,” Moore said, “was his commitment to students and their understanding of religion in America. He made a careful distinction in the classroom between teaching about religion and preaching it.”

Sandon also believed in sharing his acumen regarding religion, belief, and the importance of religion to the community with that community. For 26 years, he wrote a column for the Tallahassee Democrat called “Religion in America.”

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