Dr. Leon Unger
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Dr. Leon Unger
  • October 7, 1933 - October 24, 2017
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Leon Unger was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 7, 1933. His parents, Abraham and Rose Unger, emigrated from Russia, and instilled in their son a strong work ethic, love of learning and lifelong passion for education.
Leon earned his Bachelor and Master degrees at Brooklyn College in New York, followed by a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois. While in Illinois, Leon met his roommate's sister, Sally Gelstein, on a blind date, and they married in 1961.
Leon and Sally moved to New Jersey where Leon completed a Post-Doctorate Fellowship at the Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University. Shortly after, they settled in Oklahoma City with their young son, Mark, and daughter Alison was born shortly after.
In 1966, Leon came to the University of Oklahoma to teach at the OU Health Sciences Center, where he designed, organized, coordinated and taught significant portions of the Biochemistry and Medical Molecular Genetics course for medical, dental and pharmacy students. His love of teaching and passion for mentoring students was evident as he was ranked first in the medical student evaluations of the Biochemistry teaching faculty in almost every year of his tenure.
Leon was one of the most honored professor in the history of the OU Health Sciences Center, receiving nearly every award the University offers. In 1991, 2003 and 2008, he was chosen by the medical students for the Aesculapian Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2004, he was awarded the David Ross Boyd Professorship for teaching excellence, in 2006 he received the Edgar W. Young Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2010 he received the OU Regents Professorship, and after retiring in 2012 he was given the OU Regents Distinguished Alumni Award.
In 1993, Leon was honored with the Stanton L. Young Master Teacher Award, presented annually to a faculty member in the College of Medicine - the most prestigious and coveted award at the College of Medicine and one of the largest in the nation. In 1994, he was awarded the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching in higher education, given by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. He was the first recipient from any professional school (medicine or law) in Oklahoma, a distinction he held for 20 years.
Leon is survived by his children, Mark and Alison, former spouse Sally Unger and girlfriend Kristina Lindstrom.
Funeral Services will be held 2:30 p.m., Thursday, October 26, 2017 at Emanuel Synagogue. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Dr. Leon Unger to the Oklahoma Foundation For Excellence. 101 Park Avenue, suite 420, Oklahoma City, Ok 73102 or online at ofe.org