Leo D. Arons, the proud owner of the Gilded Lion, an antiques and fine art gallery in Princeton, passed away October 31, 2019.
Born September 28, 1931, he was the son of Alexander Arons and Rosalind Arons (Goldberg), brother of Simone Iris Oliver (Arons), grandson of Simon and Henrietta Arons, cousin of Millicent Fidler, and nephew of Peter Z. Fidler and Marian Fidler (Arons). Leo Dore grew up at 79 East 18th Street in Brooklyn, NY, in a vibrant and loving Jewish community. Through the generosity of his uncle, he earned two engineering degrees at Cornell University. Staunchly individualistic and determined to embrace life only on his own terms, he took refuge at the Cornell libraries and the Johnson Museum, where he developed a passion for illuminated manuscripts and rare books of Persia, India, and Europe. His keen interest ultimately led to his avocation as a respected art historian, appraiser, and entrepreneur. His imagination, brilliant intellect, photographic memory, and lifelong commitment to scholarship helped him identify, secure, and sell many historical and culturally significant artifacts. His expertise extended from furniture, paintings, silver, and jewelry to orientalia, medieval art, and textiles.
As a resident of Princeton he was actively engaged in civic affairs, including the Borough Merchants for Princeton, and is fondly remembered by the Princeton Macintosh Users Group. He led the Princeton Folk Dance Group and the Princeton Ethnic Dancers, a folk dance troupe that performed in authentic ethnic costumes across New Jersey and on the main stage of the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
A loyal group of friends will remember Leo for his endearing characteristics: playfulness, humor, love of Hungarian food, Balkan music, and the Oxford English Dictionary. Many friends experienced poignant moments with Leo while they pored over old French letters, Paul Revere silver, Hudson River Paintings, or Chinese silk. He had a generosity of spirit and an unflinching commitment to supporting his inner circle of friends through thick and thin.
Leo died mourning the loss of his most beloved friend and colleague, artist Lesley J. Mitchell, formerly of Princeton. With her husband Kelly Ray, Lesley ran a popular Argentine Tango dance studio in Philadelphia and organized many successful art exhibitions, much to Leo’s delight. Both Leo and Lesley lived light-years ahead of their time, actively supporting marginalized people with courageous words and deeds.
Friends and associates wishing to write condolences may visit the website of the B. L. Bush and Sons Funeral Home, 10 W. Genesee St., Camillus, NY, at www.BLBUSH.com. A memorial service will be held in Princeton later in 2020. Please register for notification on the funeral home website, where you will also find links to charities chosen to honor Mr. Arons. For his commitment to higher education: Questbridge; for his love of music and dance: Hochstein School of Music and Dance; for his love of art and history: The American Historical Association.
Leo D. Arons, patron of the arts, friend, boyfriend, scholar, brother, son, nephew, cousin, rest in peace.
A memorial will be in October 2020 at the Princeton Friends School.
Obituary by Cynthia Hill, photo from thegildedlion.com