Enrique Leon, a 35-year resident of East Hampton who was involved in the growth of soccer’s popularity on the South Fork, died at home in Heredia, Costa Rica, on Dec. 17. He was 79 and had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few months before his death.
The oldest of 13 children, Mr. Leon was born on May 31, 1933, in Costa Rica to Juan Felix Leon and the former Rosario Perez. As a young man, he helped support his siblings by selling newspapers, picking coffee beans, and working as a laborer in a lumberyard, a carpenter, and a deckhand on a shrimp boat.
He married Elizabeth Mussio, who survives, on April 10, 1968. The couple immigrated to the United States shortly afterward and settled in East Hampton.
In his time here, he worked as a painter and carpenter. He was a skilled craftsman who was fond of classic techniques and antique tools, his family said. He enjoyed spending time at Riverhead Building Supply and the Golden Eagle.
Mr. Leon played on the original independent soccer team established by Paul Sapienza, and watched the sport’s growth with pride. A few years ago, he enjoyed a reunion of the team’s original roster. A fervent and dedicated lover of the game, he continued playing it with his grandsons until last summer.
An adventurer, Mr. Leon often drove from New York City to Costa Rica and back, once in a school bus. He enjoyed making the trip accompanied by friends and family. After retiring to Costa Rica, he continued to indulge his wandering spirit by traveling to Nicaragua, Panama, and, most recently, Argentina.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Leon is survived by two daughters, Vanessa Leon and Alyson Rogoski, both of East Hampton, a son, Alonso Leon of Costa Rica, and two grandsons. He is also survived by his brothers, Jorge, Luis, and Jose, all of East Hampton, Narciso, Herman, Miguel, Juan, and Geraldo, all of Costa Rica, and two sisters, Rosario Fernandez of East Hampton and Amable Cordero of Homestead, Fla.
Mr. Leon was buried following a funeral service on Dec. 20 in Heredia. His family remembers him as a kind, good-natured man with a great love for family, friends, and life, they said.