Leonard Kubiak Sr. got to know legions of students during nearly three decades as an administrator at Peabody High School -- 15 years as principal -- so perhaps it's no surprise that wherever he went in Pittsburgh, he'd often run into a graduate.
"Even when he was in the hospital or the hospice, he ran into nurses who were graduates," said one of his sons, Michael Kubiak of Wallingford, Delaware County. "He really enjoyed seeing graduates. They were thankful for what he did" at the East Liberty school.
Mr. Kubiak, 85, of Shadyside, who retired as principal in 1988, died Saturday at West Penn Hospital.
Michael Kubiak described his father as dedicated to his profession, his family and his Catholic faith, attending Mass daily. So modest was his father that it wasn't until Michael Kubiak was in college that he learned of his dad's former football stardom.
At Erie Tech, Leonard Kubiak was an all-state quarterback and was recruited by legendary football coach Bear Bryant, who then was at the University of Kentucky. Leonard Kubiak went there in 1947 but left after about half a year. "He said he was homesick," his son said.
Mr. Kubiak transferred to Duquesne University, where his play as quarterback was at such a high level he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1951 upon his graduation with a bachelor's degree. But he turned down the offer, instead choosing to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps for two years as a captain in communications.
He and his wife, a pharmacist, opened a drug store in Salisbury, Md., but after about two years, they were displaced by the construction of a major highway so they moved back to his wife's hometown of Donora. He coached football and taught history at then-Monongahela High School while earning his master's in education from West Virginia University.
In the late 1950s, the couple moved to Pittsburgh, where they took jobs in the Pittsburgh Public Schools -- he at Westinghouse and she at Allderdice. Mr. Kubiak went to Peabody in about 1960, where he served as activities director and vice principal before being named principal in 1975.
Vincent Carr, who had a long working relationship and friendship with Mr. Kubiak, called him a great administrator who cared deeply for Peabody's students and staff.
Mr. Kubiak was a mentor to Mr. Carr -- when Mr. Kubiak was named principal in 1973, he successfully pushed for Mr. Carr to succeed him as vice principal. After Mr. Kubiak retired in 1988, Mr. Carr was named principal, a position from which he retired in 1993.
The two men were close friends and for 15 years played in a card club with six other Peabody educators.
"Len was a really great guy, a really caring person who believed in taking care of the students and staff. I think students on the whole felt he provided the leadership they needed. He was always conscious about their safety, and I'm not just talking about from inside but from outside forces. The staff all liked him very much. He was appreciated."
In addition to his son, Michael, Mr. Kubiak is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dolores Zuccarini Kubiak; another son, Leonard Jr. of Shadyside; two brothers, Gerald and Richard of Erie; a sister, Dolores Baldwin of Erie; and four grandchildren.
The funeral will be held at 9 a.m. today at McCabe Brothers Funeral Home, 6214 Walnut St., Shadyside, followed by a Mass at 10 a.m. in Sacred Heart Church, Shadyside. Interment with military honors will be in St. Mary's Cemetery. The family suggests donations be made to Sacred Heart Parish, 310 Shady Ave., Pittsburgh 15206.
Michael A. Fuoco: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1968.