Obituary of Robert Leaman
Robert Brian Leaman passed away on August 11, 2017 in Ridgewood, NJ. He will be remembered for his passion for public service, commitment to justice, keen intellect, witty sense of humor, tireless work ethic, strength of character, and most of all for his abiding and deep dedication to and love for his family.
Born on February 21, 1947 in Newark, New Jersey, Robert lost his birth father less than seven years later. This led to a fierce independence and maturity well in advance of his age. It was firmly established by the time his mother remarried and Robert was adopted by his father, Bert Leaman.
Robert received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Susquehanna University in 1969. Earlier that same year he met the love of his life, Diane, who completed her training as a Registered Nurse during Robert’s senior year of college. The two married shortly after graduation and journeyed together to the University of San Diego School of Law, where Robert received his Juris Doctor in 1972.
Robert was admitted to the Bar of the State of New Jersey in November 1972 and was sworn in as an Assistant Prosecutor in Union County, New Jersey four days later. This launched a long and distinguished legal career, lasting for over four decades – 32 of those years as a prosecutor and trial attorney. In February 1975, he joined the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. There he achieved a successful conviction of a serial murderer/rapist, who is still in prison today. In October 1980, when he was sworn in as the First Assistant Prosecutor of Bergen County, he was just 33 years old. It was one of the proudest moments of his career. Robert left that job in 1983 and engaged in private practice for the next seven years.
He returned to public service as a Deputy Attorney General for the State of New Jersey in 1991. In this capacity, he successfully attained more than a dozen convictions through jury trials in high-profile and complicated cases involving corruption, organized crime, and murder. In 1994, Robert became the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau. Throughout the ensuing years, his outstanding work earned him a series of promotions to various supervisory positions, culminating in his appointment as Assistant Attorney General in July 2003. He continued to handle and supervise the trial of complex criminal cases in that role until his retirement in early 2008.
Robert was passionate about the law, but, out of everything he accomplished, he was most proud of his family and the home he built with his wife in Wyckoff, N.J. He was an engaged, loving father who never missed one of his kids' sporting events or school performances. Four of the happiest days of his life were watching each of his children graduate from Wake Forest University, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Michigan, and Notre Dame Law School.
Robert was married to his wife Diane Leaman for almost 48 years. After a few years in California and then Montclair, N.J., the couple moved to Wyckoff in 1980. There they have remained, lovingly improving and creating the home of their dreams. Robert worked tirelessly on their home on everything from installing a pool, landscaping, remodeling bathrooms, and completely rebuilding and designing a family room and kitchen. Just days before his passing, he remarked that his work on their home was “just about” done.
Robert also had a lifelong passion for sports—especially football—which he passed along to his family. He held season tickets to the New York Giants for over two decades. His love of the New York Yankees led to one of his fondest memories. Robert took his son to his first baseball game on July 4, 1983, during which Dave Righetti pitched a no hitter against the Red Sox.
He is survived by his best friend and companion, Diane; their beloved dog Riley, as well as his children Stacey Leaman, Scott Leaman, and Kelly Best and their respective spouses Eli Vigil, Amy Leaman, and Steve Best. He is also survived by his cherished grandchildren Samuel Vigil, Timothy Leaman, Theodore Leaman, Jackson Best, Benjamin Best, and Josephine Best. He is preceded in death by his mother Rita Leaman and his stepfather Bert Leaman. He now joins his parents as well as his cherished four-legged family members Corky, Murphy, Stormy, and Bailey in peaceful rest.