Huseyin Leblebici, 69, of Champaign, passed away Thursday, Oct. 5 at 8:40 a.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
He was born in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 26, 1947 to Fevziye (Bilgemen) Leblebici and Selim Leblebici. Of the five cities in Turkey he grew up in, he lived the longest in Ankara, where he attended high school and Middle East Technical University.
Huseyin came on full scholarship to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1970, where he completed his M.B.A. and Ph.D.
After teaching a few years in Turkey, he returned to University of Illinois, where he was a professor for thirty-eight years in the Department of Business Administration, College of Business. He continued to travel to Turkey, where he helped establish a new business school and taught executive courses at Sabanci University. He was incredibly dedicated to his students and colleagues. In addition to heading his department at Illinois for 10 years, he also served as an advisor and mentor to hundreds of Ph.D. students and faculty.
Recently, he received an Excellence in Faculty Mentoring award. In the past few years, he took on the challenging tasks of starting a new academic journal and teaching a new online course. He retired for health reasons in Sept. 2017.
Family, friends, and colleagues appreciated his warmth, optimism, humor, and support for others. He was an affectionate, devoted, and beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He brought tremendous joy to our lives by being playful, irreverent, reassuring, and selfless.
His interests included traveling, listening to classical music and attending concerts at Krannert Center, listening to and writing poetry, reading news from around the world, debating ideas, and hosting parties. He was a great host who loved to entertain and overfeed his guests. Although he stayed true to his Turkish roots, he became a Midwesterner and enjoyed listening to Prairie Home Companion.
Huseyin is survived by his wife of 41 years, Ruth Ann Yontz; his daughter Leyla of Chicago, her husband Kevin and granddaughters Julia, Giselle, and Jenavieve; his daughter Sibel of New York City; and his brother Erdogan Leblebici of Istanbul, Turkey.
On October 9, he was buried with his wife's family in Green Hill Cemetery at San Jose, IL, which was his wish. A funeral for family preceded the burial. Davis-Oswald Funeral Home in Delavan handled the arrangements.
A commemoration of Huseyin will be held on Dec. 9 at 1:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois, Business Instructional Facility, Deloitte Auditorium, 515 E. Gregory Drive, Champaign, IL.
Memorials may be made to one of the following: Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, checks may be made to University of Illinois Foundation (Memo: Krannert, in memory of H. Leblebici) and mailed to Krannert Center, Attn: Renae Wilson, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801 or Department of Business Administration Doctoral Program, checks may be made to University of Illinois Foundation (Memo: in memory of H. Leblebici) and mailed to University of Illinois, Department of Business Administration, Attn: Kip Mecum, 1206 S. Sixth St., 330 Wohlers Hall, Champaign, IL 61820
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