Leon M. Braswell III, for assistant director of admissions from 1987-1991 and assistant dean of admissions from 1991-1992, died on March 7, 2019, in Woodstock, Maryland.
(The following was published in the Baltimore Sun on March 12, 2019:)
Leon M. Braswell III, beloved son, brother, nephew, uncle, and friend, 57, of Woodstock, MD, passed away on March 7, 2019, after a courageous battle against cancer. Leon is survived by his mother and stepfather, Beatrice Elois Coles and Lester Coles of Woodstock, MD; stepmother, Ann Braswell; siblings, Jason Braswell of San Diego, CA, and Amber Fraga of Manchester, NH; step-siblings, Kim Valentine Washington of Cincinnati, OH, Nia Valentine Barnes of Owings Mill, MD, and Darren Bobbitt of Williamsburg, VA; and two nieces, Jazmine V. Fraga and Alexa J. Fraga, of Manchester, NH. He is preceded in death by his father, Leon M. Braswell, Jr. Leon also leaves behind an impressive array of close friends from around the globe who loved him and cherished his friendship. Leon was born on July 15, 1961, in Aberdeen, MD. He graduated cum laude from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1983. Leon came from a family of educators and his desire to be educated and lead in the education of others guided his life. He found his calling in college admissions, where he recruited students to several colleges, including the University of Vermont, Bowdoin College, and Tufts University. While at Tufts, Leon embarked on a journey that nourished his childhood interest in travel. As a young boy, he told his mother that one day he would travel the world. In charge of the recruitment of international students for Tufts, he began the fulfillment of this childhood goal. He was traveling the world. At each institution, Leon’s support of students did not end after he admitted them to the college. Caring about their success, he served as a mentor and “big brother” to numerous students. The connection he established with his students followed them beyond the campus—he frequently reached out to check in on them, was present at weddings, and became “Uncle Leon” to their children. Similarly, Leon was an excellent colleague to his peers, many becoming lifelong friends. As a supervisor, he nurtured and supported the aspirations of those he supervised. As a co-worker, Leon could be depended on to share ideas, help without being asked, and provide astute guidance. His leadership in college admissions, both in his own office and the profession overall, was respected and valued. After years of encouraging students to pursue their goals, Leon left college admissions to enroll at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Leon earned a masters and certificate of advanced studies from Harvard and also pursued doctoral studies. He served as a teaching fellow for many courses at HGSE and the Harvard Kennedy School. While at Harvard, Leon’s exuberance and warmth, as well as his love of music, dance, and great food, earned him many life-long friendships with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Following his graduation from Harvard, Leon returned to admissions at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. No longer working with undergraduate students, he still served as an advocate for, and supporter of these young future journalists. It would take a dream opportunity to serve as director of admission of Northwestern University in Qatar to pull him away from the excitement of New York City. Leon relished his time in Qatar, enjoying the country, people, and culture. And, as the consummate foodie, he loved the diverse food options and knew how to negotiate the wonderful markets of Qatar. In 2016, Leon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Undeterred, he was determined to continue living his life to its fullest. He devoured the books and magazines he not previously had time to read. He traveled, visiting friends in nearby DC and as far as Switzerland and China. And, most importantly, he returned to the Outerbanks of North Carolina, a place he loved, to spend time with family. The family would like to thank the Cancer Institute of St. Agnes Hospital and Gilchrist for the compassion, care, and love they gave Leon on the last journey of his life.
I am so, so sorry to hear that Leon has passed. He was my cherished colleague and friend while we were both working in the Bowdoin Admissions office, and I was always happy to see him when I ran into him at NACAC conferences. I’ll always remember his vibrant smile.