Skee Leeds: 1929-2023

Many of us have fond memories of Skee Leeds in Kismet. He and his wife of 37 years, Barbara Shamah Leeds, took up residence on Seabay Walk in the late 1980s. We saw him at Kismet Auction dinners, dancing with Barbara on summer evenings, pointing with pride to his creation of a spacious rooftop deck for their house and generally being a large and welcome presence in town.

Skee was larger than life, an embodiment of the Greatest Generation, serving his country in war time and creating an impressive life of achievement after. Skee was born Murray Levowsky, the son of immigrant parents, in New York City, in 1929. During World War II he first served as a messenger with the Office of Civilian Defense neighborhood efforts.

At 15, he was too young to join the military, but with the help of his grandmother, he was able to join the Merchant Marines. Once of age, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served for five years, witnessing the remnants of destruction in Europe.

He was recalled to serve in Korea, but was honorably discharged after being diagnosed with an eye condition. He enrolled in New York University through the G.I. Bill where he earned a degree in civil engineering and went to work at Republic Aviation. It was only one of many successful careers, including drapery designer, woodworking business owner, creator of multi-level platform environments and finally, general contractor where he was in great demand for his meticulous and conscientious approach to his jobs. Along the way, he worked as a mambo instructor, a photographer and a building inspector.

He was an avid horseman, dancer, roller skater, snow and water skier. He spent winters skiing in Vermont and 40 years summering at his home in Ocean Beach where he was known there for challenging a local movement to stop share houses and for throwing great parties.

He celebrated his 70th birthday by announcing a surprise second, religious wedding to Barbara that was celebrated with friends from Kismet, Ocean Beach, Manhattan and Vermont. In recent years he and Barbara spent an increasing amount of time in Kismet, including the last weekend of his life. He was predeceased by his two daughters, JoAnn and Debra, and leaves behind his wife, his son, Eric, and six grand and great-grandchildren.