• Deirdre McCrohan

Former resident Leon Farley helped found Tiburon Peninsula Soccer Club


Leon Alex Trevor Farley, a former resident who co-founded the Tiburon Peninsula Soccer Club and served a term on the Reed Union School District board, died Jan. 6 of prostate cancer. He was 86.


Mr. Farley and his first wife, Patricia, were instrumental in creating the soccer club, according to former Tiburon Mayor Mogens Bach, who was among the league organizers and coaches, and the Farleys’ son Kerry. The club was originally formed as the Tiburon Peninsula Soccer League, changing its name in 2009; it hosts competitive and recreational youth programs.


“The phone rang constantly, with people wanting to sign up their kids, talking about where the fields would be, how the teams would be configured,” Kerry Farley said. “Our house became the command center.”


Mr. Farley also was one of the handful of soccer coaches who persuaded town officials to create a town soccer field, which became McKegney Green and was completed in 1975. Until then, teams had to play at Del Mar Middle School field and Reedland Woods School, which later was closed and became Congregation Kol Shofar synagogue.


He was elected to the school board in 1977 and served one four-year term.


Born May 6, 1935, in Surrey, England, to George Alexander Thomas Farley and Kathleen Thompson Farley, Mr. Farley and his brother were evacuated to the English countryside after the start of German bombing of London and other cities, known as the Blitz, during World War II.


The Farley family immigrated to the U.S. in 1947 but were turned away at Ellis Island because the quota for Britain was full; they settled temporarily in Toronto before moving to Los Angeles. Mr. Farley graduated with honors from Venice High School and earned a full academic scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 1956 and a law degree in 1959.


While in law school, Mr. Farley was selected to join the 1958 team for Project India, a pioneering program fostering personal diplomacy among American and Indian college students. His team traveled to northern India and met with then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, future Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Mother Teresa. He kept the friends he made through Project India for the rest of his life, returning to India for a reunion in 2005.


He loved soccer and cricket but adored rugby for its traditions and sportsmanship, his family said. He earned 10 varsity letters at UCLA: four in soccer and the rest in rugby, cricket and fencing.


He served as chairman of the Southern California Rugby Union and as president of the L.A. Rugby Club, and he helped to found the Pacific Coast Rugby Union. He was the first coach of the Marin-based Redwood rugby club started by his son Kerry. He was inducted into the UCLA Rugby Hall of Fame on his birthday in 2007.


Mr. Farley didn’t practice law but instead went into business. His career began with analyst roles at Hughes Aircraft Co., Philco-Ford Corp. and ITT’s Aerospace Optical Division. In 1972, he joined Korn Ferry as executive vice president for the firm’s global executive search efforts.


In 1976, he and partner Dick Bergsund of Tiburon founded Leon A. Farley Associates in San Francisco. The boutique firm served Fortune 100 companies with additional offices in Washington, D.C., and Dallas. With Christopher Mill of London, he co-founded Penrhyn International, a partnership of independent executive-search consulting firms with activities in more than 20 countries. In 1983, he became president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants and the following year was honored with the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


He served on the board of A Home Away from Homelessness and Summer Search Bay Area, now Breakthrough Collaborative, and also was a longtime supporter of the San Francisco chapter of Court-Appointed Special Advocates.


After he and his first wife moved their family to Tiburon in 1972, he gave up rugby for tennis. He was a charter member of the Marin Tennis Club, where he was known as “Leaping Leon.”


He was former chair of the Marin Shakespeare Co. board and was a longtime supporter of Lamplighters Music Theatre. He often quoted Shakespeare at length and never missed a chance to sing the librettos of Gilbert and Sullivan, his family said.


Mr. Farley “loved words, a proper lunch, anything UCLA, Premier League Soccer in Britain and a cold beer after a long tennis match,” they said. He also loved travel and ultimately visited all seven continents.


After he and his first wife divorced, he moved out of Tiburon in 1989 and bought his home in Greenbrae in 1994. He and his second wife, Karen Metz, met in 1998 and were married in 2006.


In addition to Karen, Mr. Farley is survived by his children from his first marriage: Kathy Farley of San Ramon, Kerry and Patrick Farley of Novato and Erin Farley of Petaluma; and six grandchildren: Jessica Nelson, Jake Gonzalez and Shane, Kevin, Alexandra, Rachael and Ryan Farley. His brother, Geoffrey, predeceased him.


A memorial is being planned for late spring 2022. Donations in his name can be made to Marin Shakespeare Co., PO Box 4053, San Rafael, CA 94913; the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104; or UCLA Rugby, c/o the UCLA Foundation, P.O. Box 7145, Pasadena, CA, 91109-7145 or at giveto.ucla.edu. For the latter, write “In memory of Leon Farley/UCLA Rugby fund” in the memo line.


Reach Tiburon reporter Deirdre McCrohan at 415-944-4634.

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