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Spencer Leak, Sr.

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Information about Spencer Leak, Sr.

Profile image of Spencer Leak, Sr.

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Funeral Director
State Government Official

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fish, Chips
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Memphis, Tennessee
Favorite Quote:
The Most Powerful Force in the Universe is an Idea Whose Time has Come.

Birthplace

Born:
4/15/1937
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Funeral Director
State Government Official

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fish, Chips
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Memphis, Tennessee
Favorite Quote:
The Most Powerful Force in the Universe is an Idea Whose Time has Come.

Birthplace

Born:
4/15/1937
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Spencer Leak, Sr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Spencer Leak, Sr. was born April 15, 1937, to pioneering Chicago mortician A.R. Leak, an insurance salesman from Arkansas who opened Unity Funeral Home in Chicago in 1933 and A.R. Leak Funeral Chapels in 1938. Leak and his three brothers grew up near 37th and State Streets. Attending Raymond Elementary School, he graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1956. Leak went on to Wilson Junior College, and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 1959.

Serving in the United States Army in 1960, Leak was stationed in West Germany. He was married briefly to R&B singer Mavis Staples, and later became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1964, Leak joined 10,000 activists led by his father and Reverend Clay Evans to protest the racially segregated Oak Woods Cemetery. That same year, A.R. Leak Funeral Home would open its doors to thousands who wanted to view the body of singing legend Sam Cooke. Leak became president and funeral director of Leak and Sons Funeral Chapel in 1970, assuming a major role in running the family business. He returned to school, earning his B.S. degree from Daniel Hale Williams College in 1979 and his M.S. degree in criminal justice from Chicago State University in 1981. Leak then held a series of positions in public service: Consumer Affairs Chief, Illinois Attorney General (1982-1985); Executive Director, Cook County Department of Corrections (1987-1991); Deputy Chief Inspector-General, Illinois Secretary of State (1991-1993); Manager, Illinois Vehicle Services (1993-1999); Deputy Director, District 1, Illinois Department of Corrections (1993-1999); and Commissioner, Illinois Human Rights Commission (1999-present). Since 1993, Leak has served as President and CEO of Leak and Sons Funeral Home. He also coordinates the radio program, It's Time Truth Speaks, on WGCI-FM.

Leak lives in Chicago with his wife, Henrietta Leak, to whom he has been married for several decades; they have three sons.

See how Spencer Leak, Sr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Spencer Leak, Sr.'s interview, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Slating of Spencer Leak, Sr.'s interview, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his paternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his mother's upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. explains how his parents met and moved to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his father's first marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the origins of his father's interest in the funeral home business
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his childhood in Chicago, Illinois' Bronzeville neighborhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his childhood in Chicago, Illinois' Bronzeville neighborhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his experience at Benjamin W. Raymond Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his teacher at Benjamin W. Raymond Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about growing up, his interest in sports, and working in the family funeral home business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about Ida B. Wells Homes and other public housing projects
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his family's move from the Bronzeville to Hyde Park in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the difference between Englewood High School and Hyde Park High School in the 1950s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his classmates and teachers at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes in high school his interest in girls and working full time in the family funeral home business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his focus as a high school student of working in the family funeral home business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his experience at Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Spencer Leak, Sr. explains the funeral home business and the importance of ministers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls Emmett Till's public viewing at A.A. Rayner Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois in 1955, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls Emmett Till's public viewing at A.A. Rayner Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois in 1955, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes use of the names of the deceased on voting lists in Cook County, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes public inquests conducted at funeral homes by the Cook County, Illinois coroner's office
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his experience in the U.S. Army in West Germany during the early 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his marriage to R&B legend Mavis Staples and his family's church affiliations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the role that funeral homes played in providing courtesy limousine service to African American celebrities and public figures
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. explains the history of Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois and the 1964 protest against its discriminatory burial policies
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. remembers chauffeuring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his trips to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his interactions with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while chauffeuring him around Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s trip to Chicago, Illinois in summer 1966
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes the Nation of Islam's businesses in Chicago, Illinois' and the Chatham neighborhood during the 1960s and 1970s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his studies at Daniel Hale Williams University and Chicago State University in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the government positions he held in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists shares his views on the prison industrial complex in Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his relationship with inmates at the Cook County Department of Corrections in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. recalls dealing with Jeff Fort, leader of the Blackstone Rangers, when he was an inmate at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC)
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his attempts at controlling the use of profanity at the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC)
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the end of his tenure as director of the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC)
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about the funeral of Sam Cooke at A.R. Leak Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about Willie "The Wimp" Stokes, Jr.'s funeral at A.R. Leak Funeral Home in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Spencer Leak, Sr. comments upon gun violence in Chicago, Illinois' African American youth population
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Spencer Leak, Sr. talks about his retirement plans
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Spencer Leak, Sr. lists his sons
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes his concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Spencer Leak, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Spencer Leak, Sr. comments upon A.A. "Sammy" Rayner's political party affiliation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Spencer Leak, Sr. reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Spencer Leak, Sr. reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Spencer Leak, Sr. narrates his photographs