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San Clemente Journal

Lou Leto, A Man for all Seasons

May 23, 2019 09:11AM ● By Anne Batty

Leto poses in front of a vintage patrol car at the Sheriff's Museum

by Anne Batty

No grass grows
under the feet of San Clementean Lou Leto; he’s a busy man who knows how to get things done. Capitalizing on a Type-A personality and what some might consider old-fashioned values; he is a man of strong principal with a “never say die,” no nonsense attitude, a thirst for knowledge and a genuine interest in, and love of people.
Although born in New Orleans he is a California boy at heart, raised in mid-1960’s San Fernando Valley by hard-working parents. His mother was one of 12 children, nine of 
Leto in Modena, Italy, touring the Ferrari factory.

 whom survived, and he grew up understanding that life could be difficult, and that it was hard work and perseverance that got the job done. He also learned that academic education or vocational training were the key to success, but seeking that success didn’t come easily to him. 

Running out of money for college he was drafted into the Army where his pursuit of knowledge would allow him opportunity to continue learning. After a two-year stint, he mustered out and headed quickly back to school, determined to continue and eventually complete a formal education.

Satisfying a boyhood dream; exploring King Tut's tomb, New Year's Eve 2018.

 Utilizing his skills in sales and marketing, he was tasked with pioneering American businesses all over the world while working as an International Vice President for a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) listed corporation, and he did just that in 45 countries.
“My passion in business was to see what people needed to make them successful and to help them get it done,” Leto explains. “I did my homework in order to better understand the culture and mindset of the people I would be dealing with. That knowledge enabled me to construct a business plan that would work for them.”

Building a reputable and successful professional career, Lou spent his occupational life traveling across the U.S and worldwide, mentoring and developing a myriad of businesses. He says that he was never the smartest guy in the room, but he knew how to get things done.

After spending many years as a working professional, in retirement things haven’t changed much for Lou Leto. He is still a man on the go, getting things done. His passion to help others in the working world has translated into involvement in the community at large as a business mentor, volunteer and all-round town ambassador.  “It was important to me to do the best job I could do, and to do the best for my clients,” he shares. “But the true rewards of my working life came in the friendships I made and continue to enjoy today.”

As a man about town, it’s not unusual to find Lou … impeccably well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the occasion … strolling down Del Mar meeting and greeting visitors, or just popping into local businesses to offer a helping hand. He can also be seen and heard sharing stories of the town’s history in his capacity as a docent for Casa Romantica, and/or chatting up vacationers at the Pier Bowl as a member of San Clemente’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). And for his efforts he was named the 2018 honoree for the city’s Wall of Recognition.

 A self-proclaimed storyteller, Leto enjoys writing guest articles for the SC Times, painting word pictures of life in and around town. He loves the written word and makes time to hand-write personal notes of encouragement and thanks to family, friends and business contacts, as well as anyone he might have opportunity to interact with. His energy and interest in the community seem boundless, as he continually makes himself available to mentor, help and advise any business and/or organization 24-7 whenever asked. 
“I’m a man with lots of energy and many passions,” he shares. “My wife, Sherri Colligan, and I moved to San Clemente 19-years-ago because she had spent summers on its beaches as a child, and it was her dream to eventually live here. Like most residents I fell in love with the town, and one of my passions is to serve this community in any way I can.”
Leto’s list of service to this community runs the gamut from businesses to organizations, schools, public speaking, fund raisers, special events, the Marines and families at Camp Pendleton, and more. Spare time just doesn’t have a place in his vocabulary, but one of the most important things he does is to set time aside for taking at least two adventure trips globally with his life-partner, Sherri. “We are both life-long learners who love exploring unusual places, their people and their cultures,” he shares. 

Along with traveling, Lou also spends a great deal of time reading and involving himself in another of his passions … the motor sports culture. “Although I was a valley kid living far from the ocean, I was still a typical California kid interested in surfing,” he reveals. “My first surfboard was an old door with a porcelain handle. When it rained in the valley, the streets flooded and I rode down those streets on that old wooden door. From there I graduated to shaping and glassing my own surfboards, and I think it was working with that fiberglass that moved me to start working on Corvettes. My passion for cars had started when I was five; from there I developed a love of motorsports of all kinds.” 
Today Lou is a longtime member of the Motor Press Guild, attends motor sports shows/events, volunteers his services to motor sports organizations and writes articles for motor sports publications. 

As father to a son, grandfather to six adult grandchildren and nine greats, his extended family is important to him. He ekes out time to visit and be a part of their lives, and he says that although they sometimes might think him a little stern and old-fashioned, they appreciate his life-experience and contact him when they need life-advice or maybe just some help fixing their cars. 

The things a person does says a lot about who they are, and “a man for all seasons” seems a good fit for Lou Leto. From birth, to schooling, to working, to retiring he is a man who obviously loves doing all he can to help others. For him living is doing. By the look of things he has lived and continues living life to the fullest, and there seems to be little indication that it is in his plans to slow down anytime soon.