Leviton also matched students with elderly people in the Washington area who arrived by the busload for Saturday activities and summer camps organized through the program. They came for companionship and in return showed the students how to age.
“We like to think of it as an intergenerational love-in,” Leviton told The Post in 1979.
Leviton retired in 2006. Until the end of his career, he focused on the topic that had most inspired him: the end of life.
In the months since Leviton’s death, his loved ones have confronted their grief without the one person who probably knew the most about it.
“The two of us talked about … what it was going to be like,” his wife said. “... You could say that I was very prepared, but you’re still very shocked.”
“Death always comes as a surprise,” as Leviton once told The Washington Post.
Leviton’s influence lives on in his students. Today, Campanelli teaches human sexuality at George Washington University.
Carroll, who said he never forgot the elderly friends he made through Leviton’s program, is a neuropsychologist specializing in geriatrics.
Ursula Nogic, a painter who used to work in the Prince George’s County department of aging, says Leviton’s teachings still resonate. “He helped formulate a more positive outlook on the whole aging experience for me,” she said. “And that’s huge.”
Memories of Leviton also linger with Geraldine Sottek, the mother of a young woman, Susan, who died of viral encephalitis in 1978, during the second semester of her senior year at U-Md. At the time, she was taking Leviton’s death education class.
Every day during the month Susan spent in a hospital intensive care unit, Leviton called to check on her. He reported the news to her classmates, so they could learn about dying through Susan’s death.
The calls, Susan’s mother recently recalled, were very comforting. He “made such an impression.”
Emily Langer is a Washington Post staff writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.