STRATOTI, LEON (PANTALEONE) R. , - 86, of Wildwood Crest, N.J. , passed away on Friday, August 11, 2017. Despite humble beginnings, Leon, a man of strong faith, achieved significant educational, professional and personal success. By the end of his life, he created and shaped a loving extended family and instilled great personal values in his children, grandchildren and students through his love of teaching. Son of Sebastiano Stratoti and Rosina Candelieri, Leon was born in the village of Montauro, in Calabria, Italy, where he and his older brother, Dominic, endured their mother's death when Leon was only five years' old. Then, near starvation, they survived German occupation and Allied bombings during WWII. The brothers first tried to emigrate in 1939. The U.S. consular authorities, however, took them off a ship in Naples because the war was then endangering passenger ships. They were sent back to Calabria. They emigrated to the U.S. in 1946 when Leon was fifteen and joined their father, extended family and paesani in South Philadelphia's Italian community. Leon's father remarried soon thereafter to Sophia D'Angelo, and they created a blended family with Dominic (deceased), Leon, Joseph Mantone, Daniel Mantone (deceased), Rose Ann (now Perri) and Maria (now Nicodemo.) Leon learned English and thrived in his first American academic setting by completing eight years of grade school within a single year. Leon went on to excel at Southeast Catholic High School and LaSalle College, and in graduate programs at Middlebury College and Colgate University and a PhD program at Rutgers University. He became an award-winning Italian and Spanish teacher in Philadelphia public schools, most notably Girls' High. He transitioned from teaching to becoming a hotel business leader in Wildwood Crest. Nonetheless, his students continued to reach out to him for many years afterward. Leon was always an educator in his heart, most recently teaching Spanish to a nurse's aide and Italian to his granddaughters while he was in rehabilitation facility after a stroke. He loved learning and read three daily newspapers (including one in Italian) until the day of his death. He was also a published education author. Leon is survived by his loving wife, Stephanie (née Apikos). He was formerly married to his college sweetheart and business partner, Grace Abbate, until her death in 1987. They had two children: Rosanna Russell (Jay) of San Francisco and Stephanie Stratoti of Newark, Delaware. He is survived by three grandchildren, Gracie Gallagher (26) of Newark, Delaware and Lia Russell (22) and Christina Gallagher (20) of San Francisco, California. Leon was a larger-than-life personality, loving his family, Italian culture, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Catholic Church above all things. His family and friends will mourn his unconditional love, generous nature, and wry "instructive" comments. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at Notre Dame de law Mer Parish at Assumption Church at 7100 Seaview Avenue, Wildwood Crest, N.J. Friends and family may call from 9 a.m. at the Church. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery, Lower Township, N.J. Donations in his memory to Wildwood Catholic High School, 1500 Central Avenue, North Wildwood, NJ 08260 will be appreciated. Condolences may be expressed at ingersollgreewoodfh.com.