Joseph Leist

Obituary of Joseph Dolien Leist

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Joseph “Joe” Dolien Leist, 76, faithful and devoted husband to Suzann Parker Leist, died at home on September 21, 2023. He was born in Elsmere, KY on April 21, 1947 to the late Bessie Lee Richerson of Grant County and William A. Leist of Covington. After his father died young, he and his late sister Hazel Ann Link (late Jimmy) were adopted by their stepfather Eugene C. Friis and raised in Waterloo, IA. He is survived by his aunt Gertrude W. Richerson, KY, brother Arthur “Sonny” Friis (Kay) IA, and sister Faith Friis Woodson (late Larry) MO plus nieces, nephews, and cousins. Joe graduated from Waterloo High School, married, and had four sons. After moving to Ohio, Joe Friis changed his family name back to his birth name, Leist. His sons survive: Joseph Dion (Janet), Chad Michael (Anne), Scott Bradley, and Cory Daniel. He was “Granddaddy” to his grandchildren, Gregg (Jay), Alexis, Jacob, Cory Jr. (Lia), Jaden, and step grandchildren. At Avon Products, Joe enjoyed success as an award-winning District and Division Sales Manager in the Akron/Canton area. In 1983, Joe married Suzann, left corporate life, and attended the Kentucky Equine Institute at Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park to learn the industry. He apprenticed in the KHP harness shop, working on saddles, bridles, halters, reins, and other harness. In 1988 he opened his own leather shop in their 1917 farmhouse in rural Kenton County. With Suzann, he travelled to Europe, seeking equine history and knowledge. In Paris, friends arranged a private tour of the Hermes Museum and saddle shop where he conferred with the master saddler. He examined up close the historic stables, carriages, and tack rooms at Chantilly and Vaux-le-Viscount. Near Narbonne, he learned how workers with disabilities twisted hackberry wood into exquisite handles for Hermes leather riding crops. In Switzerland, the director and he discussed saddle design while walking through the Steuben factory. In London, he sourced rare books and explored the Queen’s stables. He also learned by seeking out master US saddlers with WWII experience, such as Cecil and Hans. Over 30 years, his business grew by word-of-mouth among stables and riders, competitive, hunt, and pleasure, both Western and English. When pulling saddles apart, replicating missing parts, and sewing together, he did this all by hand to uphold quality and structural integrity. From an extensive library, he researched clients’ saddles, the side saddles being quite distinctive. He also repaired an antique fire bucket, an 1800s banjo case, driving shafts, a rocking horse, and spinning wheels. He produced leather washers and straps to precise specs for vintage racing cars. In the movie “Glory”, some soldiers carried pouches he designed with carved insignias for their fighting units. With Historic Madison, Inc. IN, he shared his deep working knowledge when the Schroeder Saddletree Factory was discovered and restored. He identified related saddle parts, sourced a saddle from Hans built on a Schroeder tree, and helped interpret docent tours. As a dedicated Kentucky Colonel in his beloved state, Joe would have appreciated memorial donations to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, 943 South First Street, Louisville, KY 40203. To further medical learning, he donated his body to the University of Cincinnati Medical School. A Celebration of Life will be at a later date.

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Joseph Leist

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Joseph Leist

1947 - 2023

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