THE LEGACY OF BERT DE LEEUW

PAUL HENDRICKSON'S RESPECTFUL ACcount of the life and death of Bert De Leeuw left me devastated and awash in tears {"Requiem for a Radical," November 18}. I worked with Bert for a mere four months when I served as Barry Commoner's press secretary in the 1980 presidential campaign. When I returned to Washington in 1985, I was unable to locate Bert, who by then had moved to his farm. It was not until I innocently picked up the Post Magazine that I learned he had been killed.

Even though I only knew him a short while, I thought of Bert over the past five years whenever I passed his old neighborhood -- or even a corner that resembled it -- and whenever I drove past the Woodner apartments, where Bert loved to eat late at night at Fio's. I remembered and loved Bert for the way he treated me, which is to say, for the way he treated everybody. He convinced me I could do a job that scared me to death. He taught me without lecturing me. He tolerated my naivete while drawing out my strength. He never told war stories of his radical past to prove his "credentials"; in fact, it was not until Mr. Hendrickson's vivid portrayal of Bert's life that I even knew the half of what he had done before I met him.

Bert De Leeuw made his mark on me by his devotion to a cause we both believed in. It was not an abstract devotion, but a way of life that recognized each person's worth and that taught me how to respect others by letting me experience respect myself. GREG SIMON Silver Spring

THANK YOU FOR AN EXTENSIVE DEscription of the life and death of my fellow vegetable farmer Bert De Leeuw. You gave a colorful picture of an unusually talented, accomplished and idealistic man, but your writer missed at least one fundamental point in defining who Bert was.

As most successful political people are, Bert was widely acquainted, but few are as deeply loved by so many people as Bert was. True, he was my close, beloved friend, but I was just one of probably hundreds who considered him that.

Beyond the many controversial causes he threw himself into all his life, Bert's love for people was expressed, understood and returned to an extent that is unique in my experience. And this is what constitutes the incredible irony in the manner of Bert's death. JIM CRAWFORD Hustontown, Pa.

AS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, I THANK you for introducing me to a man whose life I would like to think of as a model for my own. Bert De Leeuw had a dream to change things, and, unlike many '60s radicals, he didn't give up his dreams when the '80s came. Paul Hendrickson's story gave me the feeling that I would know him, his family (and even his killer) if I saw them on the street; his characterizations were sensitive and very human. Even though he is presented as far from perfect, De Leeuw spent his life doing what he wanted to do with energy, passion and commitment. And he made a change. This makes his sudden death sadder still. CATHY AKERS Columbia

WHAT ABOUT AN ARTICLE TITLED "THE Lost Peace of Bill Robb"? The only things I know about either Robb or Bert De Leeuw I have read in Paul Hendrickson's story, but I would draw a different picture. A picture of a letter carrier who has fended off unfriendly dogs all his working life. An obviously intelligent person who has labored under burdens and frustrations. A man who retired to the country for peace, quiet and tranquility.

Young neighbors move onto the next farm. He befriends them, lending them a car, the use of his freezer. When does he first express the problems he is having with Bert's dogs? At one dog, two dogs, three dogs? He and Vera can no longer take leisurely walks in the woods; not only his sleep but his daytime tranquility is disturbed with barking. The only response he gets from the young man he befriended is "So what?" The number of dogs escalates to seven, an excessive number, a pack of large, unruly, barking dogs. I would say that Bert De Leeuw showed a deep lack of understanding, compassion and neighborliness -- and a strange way of returning friendship. BETTY SPITTLE Fairfax Please address letters to: 20071, The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Letters must include name, address and daytime telephone number and are subject to editing.