DALLAS — David Leos, 62, was praised as a loving big brother, a dedicated mentor, and a 40-year Dallas Fire Department veteran who loved a good-hearted prank, a good day in the outdoors, and successful command of a notoriously good barbecue grill.
At Lakepointe Church White Rock on Thursday he was also mourned as the first member of Dallas Fire Rescue to succumb to COVID-19.
He was often called "Super Dave." Friends and family offered eulogies about his calming influence and his most common phrase at the start of a lesson-filled conversation, "listen here."
"I called him Yoda for a reason," friend and co-worker Julian Costanzo said. "And that reason was pretty much the elder wise being who knew it all."
One week ago, his fellow firefighters held a vigil outside his window at Parkland Hospital, knowing that the end was near.
Leos already proven himself a fighter, surviving a leukemia diagnosis in 2014. His family said he became sick with COVID in July 2021. Complications from COVID-19 took his life on Sept. 2.
But as he became the first Dallas firefighter lost to COVID, he is far from its first front-line victim. According to officer down memorial pages and tracking down by other first responder agencies, more than 100 firefighters have died from COVID in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.
From February of last year to today, 386 police and corrections officers have died from COVID too.
"Firefighters are overly exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis," Jason Evans with Dallas Fire-Rescue said. "We have to make sure we are doing everything we can to continue to protect ourselves."
Leos' brother Marty, also a Dallas firefighter, shared stories about hunting and other outdoors trips with his brother, who could also be counted on to find their way out of the woods and back home -- once with the help of a very undersized flashlight.
"It was all our prayers that was his light to help him get home," he said explaining the reason for sharing the story. "It wasn't the home where we wanted him to go," he said of his brother's passing. "But it was the home where David wanted to go."
He also offered David Leos' last Facebook post, written when he knew his time was short.
"Hey gang, Super Dave here," Marty said, reading his brother's words. "I'm in the belly of the beast at Parkland Memorial. We're going to do what we can with this COVID delta thing. I wish I had known this was coming. There is so much I would like to say to some of you. Unfortunately, the reality of life doesn't always allow for last words. So, here I go. This is David Leos, 52092 signing off. If I don't see you again in this world, see you in the next one. Don't be late."
His family also said that regret for not getting a COVID vaccine were some of the last words he uttered too.
In lieu of flowers, the Leos family asks that donations be made to www.krodlememorialfoundation.org.