In Memoriam: Carl Don Leaver



It is with great sadness that MSI Press notes the death of Carl Leaver, CEO of the Press and typesetter and graphic designer par excellence. Many authors have expressed not only condolences but also a sense of legacy from covers he designed that they love. 

Here is his obituary:

On August 16, 2021, Carl Don Leaver of San Juan Bautista passed into eternal rest. A forester with the US Forest Service in Idaho and Montana, he turned to nature photography while working in the Bitterroot National Forest. His photographs graced national magazine covers and on a weekly basis the local paper of Hamilton, MT, the Ravalli Republican. He later worked on photography projects for the US Army (AFEES) and taught photography at the New York Institute of Technology in Amman, Jordan. His final career change led him to computer graphics and publishing as co-owner of MSI Press LLC; his many typeset books and book covers have helped MSI Press authors win a large number of awards over the years, and MSI Press has been rated in several categories as one of the top 20 publishers in California.

A life highlight was hiking 1000 miles of the 1300-mile Appalachian Trail with his son, Shawn, then 10 years old. In addition to hiking through East Coast states, he has trekked by car through eastern Canada and Baja California – and, his only other bucket list item, spent a few days in Fairbanks, Alaska on an invited visit.

Carl (Butch to his parents and siblings and Bug to his wife and kids) was born in Niagara Falls, New York, moving to Pittsburgh, PA with his family as a pre-teen. He graduated from Mount Lebanon High School and Penn State University (BS in Forest Science), the latter institution being where he met his wife of 51 years, Betty Lou (Ham), a graduate of Spaulding High School, Rochester, NH.

Over the years, in addition to the country of Jordan, he lived and worked in Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Texas, Washington DC, and since 1989, California (Monterey and Salinas), settling in his beloved San Juan Bautista in 2006.

Carl was preceded in death by his sister Janice Leaver of Dillner, PA, brother-in-law John Duffill of Carnegie, PA, and grandson Zion Forde and granddaughter Raven Forde of Eastern Shore, MD.

He leaves behind a devoted sister, Linda Duffill of Carnegie, PA, brother, Thomas Leaver and sister-in-law Babs Leaver, of Ormond Beach, FL, niece Michele Duffill of Columbus, OH and nephew Jonathan of Pittsburgh, PA. He also leaves behind his loving wife, Betty Lou Ham (Leaver) of Acton, ME and East Rochester, NH, as well as four beloved children and their families: Echo Leaver, son-in-law Gavin Forde, and granddaughter Alexis Forde of Eastern Shore, MD; Fawn Leaver and late son-in-law Roy Waters; Shawn Leaver, daughter-in-law Leana Leaver, grandson Nicholas (Neko) Leaver, and granddaughter Neela Mei Leaver, and Shenan Leaver, known far and wide simply as CB and his six cats, who surrounded him on his last days. He also leaves behind a special family member, Brian Martinez of Salt Lake City, Utah.

He will be remembered for his artistic eye, technological expertise, BBQ grilling for all who came by, love of nature, especially animals, humor and wit, infectious laugh, humility, and kindness to all.

Carl donated his body for medical research/education to Science Care. A celebration of life is planned for his birthday, November 1, 2021, location and time to be determined. Donations in lieu of flowers are requested to be made to Missoula (MT) United Way in support of the evacuees of the Lolo Peak wildfires (406-549-6104), given Carl’s experience in fighting the Bitterroot Forest’s White Cap fire while working for the USFS, or to the Old Mission San Juan Bautista restoration fund (, given his long-term association with Mission parishioners, and its cat, Sula, whose six books he typeset.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
 This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blog editor's note: As a memorial to Carl, and simply because it is truly needed, MSI  is now hosting a web page, Carl's Cancer Compendium, as a one-stop starting point for all things cancer, to make it easier for those with cancer to find answers to questions that can otherwise take hours to track down on the Internet and/or from professionals. The web page is in its infancy but expected to expand into robustness. As part of this effort, each week, on Monday, this blog will carry an informative, cancer-related story -- and be open to guest posts: Cancer Diary. 


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