Leon Joslin, pictured at age 97, still competed in the discus, which has earned him records and trophies. He lived at The Kenney and worked out half hour every day. He was known as "Mr. Fancy Pants".
UPDATE: Leon Joslin dies at age 100 'Mr. Fancy Pants'
UPDATE: June 12, 2012
The West Seattle Herald is saddened to learn that longtime Kenney resident Leon Joslin passed away recently at age 100. The story below, and photo, from Dec. 15, 2009, profile the then 97 year-old.
Here is a link with additional information about Joslin, who residents called "Mr. Fancy Pants" because of the colorful pants he liked to wear during performances at the Kenney from masterstrack.com
Dec. 15, 2009
The ever-athletic Leon Joslin turns 98 March 27, and is somewhat of a celebrity resident at The Kenney. He trained and competed with his pals President Gerald Ford in 7th grade through high school, and both Jesse Owens and future University of Washington basketball coach “Tippy” Dye at Ohio State.
They still call Joslin "Mr. Fancy Pants" at his West Seattle retirement residence ever since he had bright color stripes sewn into two pairs of his pants. He just wowed the Kenney residents and staff Friday, Dec. 11, on stage during their Christmas pageant.
Joslin works out half and hour each day on the second floor exercise room. He played basketball and football in high school and football in college but he most distinguished his athletic career in discus and shot put and holds numerous records in master’s categories. A trophy stands in a glass showcase just outside his front door next to his painting of fall leaves. The trophy reads “Senior Olympics 2007 World Record Holder, discus thrower, 52 feet 8 inches. Age 95-99.”
“There is 100-105 age group I’m waiting to compete in,” said Joslin, a sturdy Michigander. Joslin met the president at South School in Grand Rapids where they spent their junior high and high school years.
“We played football, basketball and track together,” recalled Joslin. “Jerry was a little bigger than me, and an inch taller, kind of a big boned guy. I was captain of the basketball team. He was captain of the football team. He always called me ‘Jozz.’
“We won the high school (football) state championship on Thanksgiving Day, 1930. We resolved that all the players would meet back on Thanksgiving every year in Grand Rapids. When Jerry became vice president he invited us all in 1974 to the Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC for Thanksgiving. In the meantime he became president. He contacted each of us and said, ‘Cancel the Marriott plan, and come to the White House.’ So that’s what we did. ”
And Jesse Owens?
“He was a really nice guy,” said Joslin. “He was humble. I don’t remember him as a radical or making a big fuss about being black at Ohio State. I’d see Jesse when he would come out here to West Seattle Stadium to put on a kids track meet every year. The last year I invited him for dinner. He said, ‘I’ll take time to do that next year.’ But next year never arrived. He passed away. He started smoking at 40. That smoking business killed him,” said Joslin with a low sadness in his voice.
Joslin has a track team photo of him with Owens pictured in the mid-1930’s on his wall. Recently, after Owens’ wife died, their three children, Gloria, Marlene, and Beverly autographed the frame for Joslin.
Unlike Ford, who went straight from South School to the University of Michigan, Joslin could not afford college right away. This was of course at the beginning of the Great Depression.
“I had an awful time then,” recalled Joslin. “I never knew where I was going to get my next sandwich.
“I did get to go to Ohio State for a year, then after summer I returned for my second year. But I didn’t have any money to pay tuition and stayed a whole month before they discovered me,” he said with a wide grin, still getting a kick out of that story.
Joslin and wife Betty were married 66 years. She passed away about four years ago. He spends his holidays and what free time the busy nonagenarian has with his is son, Tim, a retired United Airlines captain from Des Moines, and daughter Marianne, who lives in San Francisco and promotes an arm sling she designed.
“I went to the skin doctor the other day and he said to make an appointment in four months,” said Joslin. “I said, ‘Well, I’ll be an old man in four months.’
“Things happen every day, and four months is a long time in a guy’s life when he’s 97 years old. You don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope I can make it. In fact, I’d like to stick around and find out what the heck is going on about Boeing and different important things.”