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Celebration of Life

St. Catherine of Siena Church
Saturday August 3rd, 2019

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Leonard D. Topoleski

Leonard D. Topoleski, 83, of Ithaca, NY, passed away on Friday, February 8, 2019, at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA, while surrounded by his loving family. Born in Ashley, PA, he was the son of the late Joseph and Bertha Sosnowski Topoleski. Leonard graduated from Ashley High School in 1953, where played on the football team for three years and participated in the debate team and theater group. After earning B.S. (1957) and M.S. (1959) degrees from Penn State University, Leonard went on to earn his Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics from Purdue University in 1962. He was employed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University from 1962 to 2001, retiring as Professor Emeritus. At Cornell, he conducted research on vegetable crops, served as an extension agent, and left a legacy as a popular teacher and well-loved student adviser.

Leonard had a passion for gardening, collecting antiques, photography, and every aspect of Cornell Athletics. He was a longtime communicant of St. Catherine of Siena Church, Ithaca.

Leonard is survived by his loving wife of nearly 61 years, the former Janice Makaravitz; children, Professor L.D. Timmie-Topoleski (Marci Chasnow, MD), Tamara Ann Topoleski, MD (Leonard Foffa), and Daniel T. Topoleski; grandchildren, Mackenzie (Collin), Eliza, Fraser, Audrey and Delaini; sister, Dorothy Johnson; and several nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his daughter-in-law, Lisa Ann Topoleski.

A Celebration of Leonard's Life will be held on Saturday, August 3, 2019, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the reception hall at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 309 Siena Drive, Ithaca, NY 14850.

For those unable to attend the celebration who would like to honor Leonard in a special way, please consider a contribution to The LAST Foundation, Inc., at 1266 Shelter Rock Road, Orlando, FL 32835. This foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, was formed in memory of his daughter-in-law, Lisa Ann, and helps local families with medical expenses associated with illness.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Leonard Topoleski, please visit our flower store.


I took a couple of courses with Dr. Topoleski during the late 1970s and early 1980s when I was enrolled in the Ag school at Cornell trying to figure out what to major in. He was a wonderful teacher and a truly delightful person. After many years, Dr. T. Is one of the few profs whom I remember vividly and with great fondness. Condolences to his extended family. Christine I Oaklander, Ph.D., Ag&LS 1981.

Christine I. Oaklander Oct 20 2019 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Leonard Topoleski

Char Danielson Feb 13 2019 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Leonard Topoleski

Lansing Funeral Home Feb 9 2019 12:00 AM