Written by Brandon Cho
Domingo Leonida was born “somewhere in the middle” of a large family made up of three brothers and four sisters in Honolulu, Hawaii. As a boy, his family lived near the coast (his father was a commercial fisherman), where he spent his free time playing in the coastal waters catching crabs and fish. He still remembers the fateful day in December, 1941, when his fourteen year old ears picked up the sounds of distant gunfire and explosions. Luckily, he was in church at the time and far removed from the harbor.
A smart boy, he knew that he would be drafted after high school, and decided to join the army on his own terms, enlisting and joining the Army Correspondence Course Program in Madison, Wisconsin. After his discharge, Domingo began a rather nomadic academic career, studying at universities in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Madison. First, he transferred to the University of Dayton in Ohio, where he was disappointed by the mild winter, having expected winter scenery like he saw in postcards. He then transferred to Marquette University in Milwaukee, where despite the 5 degree temperature, he was very happy to finally experience a Christmas-card-like winter. Domingo stayed at Marquette for two years, working on pre-med courses and throwing in a string of courses in Russian language and a semester in St. Louis for his own enjoyment. After undergrad, Domingo received a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati, after which he went on to Ohio State University to work on his masters in physiology. While pursuing that degree, he was accepted into medical school at the University of Cincinnati, and promptly hopped into that program.
Just two years into medical school, Domingo had to stop his studies due to a serious chest infection. Suspecting tuberculosis (which had claimed the lives of both of his grandparents) he moved back to Hawaii with his wife Madelaine (whom he had met while at the University of Wisconsin) and their baby son. After six months of treatment, he was well enough to follow Madelaine back to Ohio, where she had taken a teaching opportunity at a women’s college after earning a master’s degree in physical education. While he jumped back into his schooling, Madelaine recruited her students to help babysit their children.
Ever the busy opportunist, Domingo found and accepted a position at a whiskey distillery, and was brought on board as a researcher to help solve some issues they were having in their Kentucky facilities. Once there, he was quick to prove his worth. When shown a problem that, in his own words, “three men with a Master’s in bacteriology, a Master’s in agricultural chemistry, and a PHD in bacteriology couldn’t solve for eight years, for some reason”, he went down to the Kentucky facilities, took samples from each floor of each facility, brought them back to his Ohio lab to run tests, and solved the problem within a month. As a thank you, the distillery sponsored his education at Purdue, where he completed a handful of classes on bacteriology.
Always the multi-tasking man, Domingo used part of his 3 years in medical school to take an advanced residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation, which he would use at a later date. Following a two year internship at Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio, Domingo (who had somehow also managed to join the Navy reserve in that time) joined a Navy program working on the Marine Corp base in Twenty-nine Palms. Throughout all of this, Dr. Leonida was blessed to have found an understanding wife in Madelaine, who was able to be flexible as a part-time middle school and high school physical education teacher and follow him through his many moves to many different jobs.
The next few decades was filled with a whirlwind of new careers and moves, as Dr. Leonida moved his family from California to Michigan, Ohio, then to New York to do vaccination research for the health department. Then he moved to Chicago, Illinois to work as a health officer inspecting nursing homes and private care entities and to Kenosha, Wisconsin to work as a health officer.
His other careers included work in the private sector for Caterpillar Construction, doing research on workmen’s compensation programs in the industry (the findings for which were so groundbreaking that they were published in a medical journal), his own physician’s private practice, a federal government fellowship in computer applications in medical research, and finally a position at a full time practice through the US Navy Reserve in San Diego, where he worked for six years until his retirement in 1999. The year of his retirement, Madelaine had a fall and fractured her shoulder, and Domingo made it his mission to support her full time and help her on her road to recovery. Now that he is together with Madelaine at Stellar Care, Dr. Leonida continues to care for his most important patient with the love and support of the Stellar Care community.
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