Born in Long Island, NY, on January 30, 1928, he was the son of the late Quartermaster Chief Herman Leis and Erna Michel Leis.
Captain Leis enlisted as a seaman and worked diligently from this entry-level position to achieve the rank of captain. This earned Capt. Leis the title known as “mustang” in the Navy. His service dates were from December 1945 to July 1975. He held a degree in marketing and management from New York University and a degree in international relations from George Washington University.
Captain Leis’s significant duty stations were: USS Bristol DD-857, XO of the USS Vesole DDR-878, OPS Officer of the Comcrudesflot 10, XO of the USS Yosemite AD-19, and CO of USS Gearing DD-710.
Some of Captain Leis’s significant awards earned were: Meritorious Service medal with a gold star, American Theater medal, World War ll Victory Medal, Navy Occupation medal, and the Defense Service medal with one star.
Leo D. Dougherty (Petty Officer 2nd Class) Tampa, Fla., founder and past president, USS Gearing (DD 710) Association states, “I had the honor and privilege of serving under Captain Leis on the USS Gearing. His experience as an enlisted man prior to being commissioned as an officer gave him a connection with his crew. His leadership and his respect for his crew earned not just our respect for him, but earned our desire to be the best crew we could be. He wanted us to work hard and we did work hard to make ourselves better and make the ship better. My time on the Gearing and in particular my time under his command is the time I remember most about my Navy service. He left an indelible imprint on me as a sailor, and as a human being. I was just 18 years old when I reported aboard the Gearing and when he took command, he became a person in my mind who is still today bigger than life.”
Capt. Leis was commander of the American Legion Post 37 in Little Compton for 12 years. He was also a member of the Newport County Veteran Council, the Fall River Symphony, the Luthiers Guild, and the Portsmouth Senior Citizens Choir. One of his favorite pastimes was playing the viola while his friend Curtis LaFrance accompanied him on the piano.
After retiring from the Navy, Captain Leis went back to school to become a luthier. He made and repaired violins and guitars. He also repaired stringed instruments for the Newport School Department.
Capt. Leis is survived by his daughters, Amanda Leis of New York and Jessica Leis of Newport; step-daughters, Mary Stockard of Portsmouth, and Sharon McEvoy of Norfolk, Mass.; and grandchildren, David Meikle, William Bierce, Benjamin Bierce, Nathaniel Stockard, and Julia and Evan McEvoy. He was predeceased by his son, Alfred C. Leis Jr and his former wife, the late Barbara S. (Blau) Leis.
A memorial service will be held on November 24, 2012 at 11 a.m. in Connors Funeral Home, 55 West Main Road, Portsmouth.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Hospice Visiting Nurses Services, Newport and Bristol Counties, 1184 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871.
Condolences, information and directions available at www.memorialfuneralhome.com