Learning and laughing with Leonard Sobanja
Jane Howard
Community Voices

Learning and laughing with Leonard Sobanja

Leonard Sobanja passed away in November 2022, leaving behind a legacy of caring about education and history. WTIP’s Rhonda Silence reached out to a number of his colleagues and friends who shared some of their remembrances.

Silence spoke to longtime Civics teacher Darold Rosbacka, Special Education teacher Luana Brandt and Industrial Tech (Shop) teacher Stuart Jackson, who all said Leonard was “tough but fair.” They all learned a lot about education from him and appreciated his friendship through the years.

After retiring as principal and then social studies teacher, Leonard spent several years on the Cook County School Board where he is remembered as a fierce advocate for the industrial tech program, which had been diminished by a school renovation. Jeanne Anderson was a parent on the school board with Leonard and she shared her recollection of some very interesting board meetings during which Leonard fought to resurrect the shop program. Anderson said she found working with Leonard “delightful.”

Friends and family gathered to help former School District 166 Principal Leonard Sobanja celebrate his 90th birthday on September 20, 2015. Attending were a number of former faculty members. (L-R) Michael Knight, social studies teacher early to late ’60s; Stuart Jackson (wood shop mid-’60s until retirement); Leonard Sobanja (principal and later social studies-1957 until retirement); Darold Rosbacka (social studies early ’60s until retirement); Chuck Beberg (metal shop and drafting mid ’60s until retirement); and Jack Rasmusson (chemistry and then social studies mid-to late ’60s).

Leonard stayed very busy after retirement and was an important board member of the Cook County Historical Society. He was the developer of the Moments in Time features for WTIP Community Radio. But former Historical Society Director Pat Zankman shared that his passion was the construction (and reconstruction) of two historic landmarks on the Grand Marais harbor—the recreated fish house and the historic fishing vessel, the NeeGee.

Most community members remember that Leonard had a dry sense of humor and a wonderful chuckle. To sum up her thoughts on Leonard, reporter Rhonda Silence shares a last day of school memory with listeners—a final Moments in Time tribute to Leonard Sobanja. He will be missed.



WTIP would like to share some previous news coverage of Leonard Sobanja:

Learning about life in the Philippines Cook County News Herald, November 10, 2012

Speaking with BJ Muus and Leonard Sobanja WTIP Community Radio, February 7, 2020