A reflection on the legacy of a local Philadelphia Boy Scout family leader.
From his racing secrets and strategies in Pinewood Derbies to cutting his honeymoon short due to his devotion to the scouts, Robert "Skip" Leopold's 64 years of service will not be soon forgotten by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), specifically the troops he impacted the most in the neighborhoods of the River Wards.
The scouting family of Philadelphia suffered a tremendous loss in October when Leopold, the BSA district's vice chairman, passed away.
To honor this pillar of Philadelphia scouting, Troop 171 donated all of their
collected items from the annual Scouting for Food drive in Leopold's name to
St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 2139 E. Cumberland St., where Leopold had been a member since 1966.
"Skip did whatever he could to keep scouting alive in these neighborhoods," said Annemarie Bravo, cubmaster of Troop 171. "It was fitting that we should give everything we had to St. Michael's just in his honor."
Champion of the Boy Scouts, devoted leader and a man dedicated to selfless
service, Leopold had been a part of the boy scouts since he was 10 years old. Leopold transitioned from Cub Scouts, to Boy Scouts and eventually joined the Navy in 1959, where he applied many of the skills and mentalities learned during his time with the scouts, according to Leopold's son, Robert Leopold III, 49.
Upon returning home from the Navy, Leopold once again revved up his career with the Boy Scouts. As his sons, Rob and Steve, came of age and joined the scouting family themselves, Leopold began serving as an institutional
"My father basically set the example for both me and my brother," said Robert Leopold. "We're probably better people today because of the association my father had with scouting."
Leopold touched many aspects of scouting in the Philadelphia region, holding
positions from chapter advisor to vice chair of the district committee. His
commitment to Boy Scouts and love for the cause often touched all realms of his life.
In 1965, Leopold married his wife Patricia. The two planned an open-ended
honeymoon to Niagara Falls, where Mrs. Leopold would soon truly understand her new husband's love for the scouts.
"During their honeymoon, my dad said he had to get back to Philadelphia for a scouting event," Leopold III said. "My mother literally spent the second part of her honeymoon with hundreds of scouts at a city-wide jamboree, atop Belmont
But scouting became more than just a passion for Leopold; it became a family
With Leopold's sons both still involved with the Boy Scouts and the large majority of his family also participating in one way or another, the entire Leopold family shows tremendous commitment and dedication to the scouts.
"One of the jokes in my family is when you marry a Leopold man, you look at the fine print on the bottom of the marriage license that basically says, 'Wife must join scouting,' " Leopold III said.
For those closest to Leopold, Saturday's food drive served as the cherry on top of Leopold's immensely impactful hand in the building and maintaining of the scouts in Philadelphia.
Troop 171 donated about 200 items in total to St. Michael's Church in honor of Leopold, according to Bravo. While this year's Scouting for Food program did not bring in as much food as the Bravo would like to see, the troop was happy to give everything collected in Leopold's name.
The Philadelphia scout family will surely feel the loss of Leopold, but his legacy has built a beacon of all things the Boy Scouts stand for.
"One of the major aspects of boy scouting is building character and building
citizenship," Leopold III said. "My dad was someone to be set aside to be an
example of how to be a good scout."