Leon Daggs Jr.
Leon Daggs, Jr.
Leon Daggs, Jr., one of the area's most prominent business leaders and philanthropists, passed away peacefully in his sleep early Friday morning, March 26, 2021, from brain cancer. He was 80 years old.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri on February 12, 1941, to Leon and Dorothy Daggs, he was the oldest of four children. He was educated at Star School in Crystal City, MO, and L'Ouverture Elementary School where he earned the distinction of graduating salutatorian of his eighth-grade class. He was the first of two black students to integrate Cleveland High School, in 1955. There, he excelled academically and athletically, played tuba in the band and bass fiddle in the orchestra, and was the first black student voted to the Student Council, in his senior year. Leon graduated in the top ten percent of his class and, following high school, enrolled in Harris Teacher's College (now Harris-Stowe State University) where he lettered in track & field and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education. During the university's May 2017 commencement, he was one of the first two people to receive the inaugural Harriet Beecher Stowe Award – the university president's highest honor bestowed on alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the school, along with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. He established the Leon Daggs, Jr. Endowed Scholarship to assist his alma mater with providing opportunities for underrepresented youths in under-resourced communities.
An officer and a gentleman, Leon joined the United States Navy Reserve in Glenview, Illinois, after his senior year in high school. He graduated college in 1963 and, following a year of teaching middle school, he reported to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola for flight training on March 4, 1964, pioneering again, as one of the first blacks ever to become a Naval Aviation Officer Candidate. Upon graduation, he earned the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) and served for nearly five years, including a tour aboard the USS Calcaterra. However, Pensacola also served as the place where Leon would meet the love of his life – a beautiful young woman named Saundra Stills, a co-ed at Florida A&M University. After a brief courtship, the couple became engaged and eventually married on April 19, 1965. To their union, a son named Christopher Leon Daggs was born on May 31, 1970.
Leon joined Ford Motor Company in 1971 as the company was looking to staff a brand new (Customer Service) division in Indianapolis, Indiana. He worked his way up the ranks from analyst to administrative manager before being promoted and relocating to Dearborn, Michigan. After nearly 15 years with the company, he began thinking about entering the Ford Dealer Development Program. With much prayer and an investment from his mother-in-law coupled with his own, he left Ford in December 1985 and by January of the next year became the proud dealer of Hub City Ford-Mercury in Crestview, Florida. Surviving slow market periods, economic downturns, recessions, and numerous financial challenges, he stayed the course and achieved full ownership in 1994. Armed with a keen business acumen, Leon owned multiple successful dealerships in Florida and Georgia, real estate holdings, and other investments. His commitment and impact on the automobile industry earned him awards from Chrysler and Ford Motor Company, the Minority Dealers Association, and many others, including ranking as one of Black Enterprise Magazine's Top 100 Automobile Dealers for more than 25 years reaching as high as number nine on the list. Prior to embarking on his Ford career, he was employed by Proctor & Gamble and McDonnell Douglas Electronics.
With his ever-present "attitude of gratitude," Leon never forgot where he came from and could often be found giving back to his community through the various organizations in which he held membership. He was a life member of both the NAACP and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Spr. '60). Organizations with which he held offices include Ford Lincoln-Mercury Minority Dealer Association (Board of Directors and Southeast Regional Manager), 100 Black Men of Pensacola (Vice President), Sigma Pi Phi (Boule') Delta Pi Charter Member, National Association of Guardsmen-Florida Chapter, CCB Community Bank (Florida Region) Board of Directors Chairman, and board member for Community Enterprise Investment Inc. (CEII), Pensacola.
Leon enjoyed spending time with family, attending or watching sporting events, golfing, and fishing – particularly on his many trips to Sitka, Alaska with his son. He was well traveled, both as a U.S. Navy Officer and civilian, having visited five continents – including Oceania, six Hawaiian Islands, various U.S. territories, and sailing numerous Mediterranean cruises.
A man of great faith, Leon accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized at Corinthian Baptist Church in St. Louis. He became Catholic, worshipped and was an active member at St. Engelbert Church (St. Louis), Holy Angels (Indianapolis), St. Beatrice (Detroit) and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Pensacola, where he was united in matrimony.
The devoted family patriarch is survived by his loving wife of nearly 56 years, Saundra; beloved son Christopher; grandchildren, C'Kristen, Chandler, Christopher Jr., and Jenna (step-granddaughter); siblings Brenda Daggs James, Marcella Daggs Woodson (Jerome), and Eric "Tony" (Holly); and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, April 15, 6:30 p.m., at Crestview Community Center. On Saturday April 17, at 10:30 a.m., a funeral mass will be held at St. Joseph. Due to COVID restrictions, a celebration of life will be announced at a later date.
Flowers may be sent to St. Joseph, 140 West Government Street, Pensacola, FL 32501. The family welcomes donations to the Leon Daggs, Jr. Endowed Scholarship at Harris-Stowe State University.
Published by The Crestview News Bulletin from Apr. 5 to Apr. 10, 2021.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
Memorial service
Crestview Community Center
Funeral Mass
St. Joseph
140 West Government Street, Pensacola, MO
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32 Entries
Blessings and Peace to the Entire Family. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Leon Daggs, Jr. at the swearing-in ceremony of one of Northwest Florida's kindest senators and again, at the Grand Opening of Crestview's newest Courthouse in Crestview--two distinct memories held dear. Mr. Daggs was always kind, polite, wise and will be remembered with a tearful smile for his quite humor! May his legacy live-on. (zor)
Zenobia O. Richardson
April 22, 2021
With deepest sympathy to our cousin's family. You will be missed...Arthur & Michael Wilson.
Arthur Wilson
April 16, 2021
Leon, you did it (LIFE) your way and have left empty and all that got a chance to know you are thankful for the opportunity. Rest in peace Cousin Daggs. Saundra and Chris, hold on to God's Unchanging Hand, He'll see you through. GOD BLESS
Your STL Cousins: Maggie, Gerthia, Geraldine, Lillie & Vanessa
April 16, 2021
Please accept my prayers and deepest sympathy in your sad hours of bereavement. Leon was a wonderful person and an honor to all who knew him.
Carole Kimble
April 15, 2021
Love Jermar, Jory and Adia
April 14, 2021
My deepest heartfelt condolences to the family. I will miss you my dear cousin. Rset In Paradise.
Mary Gilmore
April 14, 2021
Chris, continued prayers and healing for you and your momma in these upcoming months!! The Lord truly blessed you with an incredible father!! May he now Rest In Peace.
Barbie C. Macgregor
April 11, 2021
Our Deepest Sympathy Rest in Heaven
Lillian an Lawanda
April 10, 2021
Rest in heaven.
Brenda Dubose
April 9, 2021
RIP, Brother-In-Law See you in the morning
Jerome Woodson
April 8, 2021
My thoughts and prayers are with you. God truly smiled on Leon's life using him to be an example of what one can accomplish with hard work and dedication to God's kingdom. May God comfort and hold you close. He will live in your hearts forever. Praise be to God for his amazing life on earth and for the gift of eternal life in heaven. I sending tons of love.
Danita Carter
April 8, 2021
Rest In Peace my brother and veteran who served as I did to make this country a safe and better place!
Bobbie Brown
April 7, 2021
Sending prayers and condolences to you and your family sorry for your loss
Howard/Cynthia Woodson
April 7, 2021
You are missed yet you are here in our hearts. I carry you in my courage. You will always be one of my best customers and you loved my pigfeets you called foots. My condolences go to your family as a whole yet they are all up most proud of you. Thank you for being a part of all our lives. You did not leave us you were just called upon by God. Amen
Phil's jazzy BBQ
April 7, 2021
"Daggs" as he was called at Harris Teachers College, was one of the most outstanding African American students in our class. I have fond memories of sitting in the cafeteria talking with him for hours. He was truly my friend. To his family, you inherited one of the finest men on earth. You have my sincere condolences.
Gwendolyn MCO -D2X Pennington
April 6, 2021
Greetings to the entire Daggs family.Look to him who knows your sorrow and grief,for comfort.The Lord is with you always,in good and bad times.Our sincere condolences Donald and Romonda Woodson
Donald and Romonda Woodson
April 5, 2021
With deepest sympathy!
Dorothy Poe & Family
April 4, 2021
Sincere condolences to the family. Leon was truly a RENISSANCE MAN.
Glenda and Phillip ROwe
April 3, 2021
My deepest condolence, prayer for the family, he may Rest In Peace
Rowena Jentzen
April 3, 2021
Greetings to Chris and the entire Daggs Family. My family and I would like to express our deepest condolences to you all. Mr. Daggs was a trailblazer and a man of profound principals. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for what he did for me personally in terms of introducing me to the automotive industry and mentoring me along the way. His relentless tenacity and his willingness to guide me at every turn has been an invaluable asset to my success in the industry. Thank you for always being willing to share Mr. Daggs every time that I called. You will be missed but never forgotten. Rest in peace and God Bless the Daggs Family.
Segismundo Johnson
April 2, 2021
To the Daggs family, please accept my deepest condolences. I am so honored to have know Mr. and Mrs. Daggs, and Christopher. I'm tremendously grateful that I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Daggs on his memoir. He was a remarkable, kind, generous, and accomplished man and I truly believed that he lived his best life and fulfilled all of his dreams. May he rest in peace.
Kathie Johnson
April 1, 2021
Saundra, I was so sorry to hear of the lost of your husband Leon. You and your family are in my prayers. Beverly
Beverly Dozier- Wanda Brown's sister
March 31, 2021
So sorry you and your mothers loss. He was a very respectful man. As well as introducing me to Roger Perkins, who I've been with for 35 years. God Bless you and your family.
Deborah Arnold
March 31, 2021
It was an honor to have known him for 30 plus years. He was a man of principle and will be greatly missed by not only family but by the many friends who knew him in the automobile industry. May God bless you all. Our prayers are with you.
Sam Johnson Sr.
March 31, 2021
I do not have the words to explain my admiration, gratitude & respect for Mr Daggs. What he has taught and mentored to me is not calculable. The impact he made on me will never be forgotten. The responsibility he entrusted me with as a young man surprises me still to this day. He taught me the wise ways to handle often difficult and unexpected situations on a business and personal level in everyday life at an early age before I ever knew the value of his guidance. I have never met another man like him, And I´m sure I never will. I´m thankful for the time I spent under his watchful eyes as an employee and friend. He will be very much missed. I would like to express my sincere condolences to Chris and his family. My prayers are with you in this difficult time.
Andy LaMantia
March 29, 2021
Chris - Please know that Sherry and I are deeply saddened by the passing of you Dad. Always cordial, always time for a hello and a short talk. An amazing man. He did his community proud and we will always appreciate the opportunity to have known such a kind, smart, gentle man. God Bless to you, your mom and the family.
John & Sherry Symons
March 29, 2021
our Condolences to the Daggs family Leon was a man of impeccable personality it was a pleasure serving with him for many years with the 100 Blackmen of Pensacola. He truly made a difference in so many young men's life and who spoke the truth about what it takes to be successful being Black in America . a true mentor and guardian who will be missed but left us a trailblazing legacy. God Bless you my Bro May you RIP Neal & Debbie
Neal Randall
March 29, 2021
I would like to offer my condolences to the entire Daggs Family. Dr. Leon Daggs will always have a special place in my heart. When I was the president of Harris-Stowe State University, I gave him a Honorary Doctorate degree in 2017 for his outstanding leadership and service. This was the highest honor any person could receive from the university. Not to mention, he became a personal mentor to me. He will truly be missed. Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack President Claflin University Orangeburg, South Carolina
Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack
March 29, 2021
Greetings Sandra and Christopher, Alice and I are deeply saddened at the loss of the Patriarch of your family. We will continue to love you all and keep you in our prayers during this very difficult time. As you know, Leon and I fished for decades together, and along with Tim Poe. I will never forget the good times we had, the laughs we had, the meals we´ve had, and all out of the pleasant interactions during his lifetime. If there´s anything that Alice and I can do to ease your burden please just let us now. May God bless you and keep you in his arms, Norman & Alice Cushon
Norman and Alice Cushon
March 28, 2021
To the Daggs Family, know that many thoughts are with you in your time of need. May you take comfort in the sweet memories of a beautiful life.
Ernest and Wanda Brown
March 28, 2021
With deepest sympathy as you remember Leon. Wishing you peace and comfort during this difficult time.
Joseph & Cheryl Martin
March 28, 2021
Our family loves you and so many good memories. May God keep a hedge around the Daggs Family.
Strawter Family
March 27, 2021
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