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Thread: 2009-01-23 Worcester Firefighter Robert Leonard Retired

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    2009-01-23 Worcester Firefighter Robert Leonard Retired

    Leonard, Robert and Rose

    Robert O'Donnell Leonard and his wife, Rose C. (Pepper) Leonard, husband and wife for more than fifty-eight years, died Friday, January 23rd, 2008 in Calabash, N.C.

    Robert, the only child of Raymond and Helen V. (Couming) Leonard, attended Commerce High School and was a WW II Navy Veteran serving on the U.S.S. Chevalier. Robert then served on the Worcester Fire Department from 1949-1994 spending most of that time at the Webster Square Fire Station, Engine 5 and Ladder 4.

    Robert was a member of the Knights of Columbus Alhambra Council and the Worcester Men of Song. He was also one of the founding members of the award winning Haystack Four Barbershop Quartet. An avid golfer and a member of Pine Ridge Golf Course in Leicester and Brunswick Golf Course in N.C., Robert shot his first hole-in-one on August 4, 2000 on the 16th hole of the Calabash Golf Course in N.C. He was an active member of VFW 7288 in North Carolina, and served as Commander during the 2002-2003 expansion and renovation. He later remained involved as Post Trustee.

    Rose was the oldest daughter of Joseph and Rose (Beatrice) Pepper. She attended Calvin Coolidge High School in Shrewsbury and began nursing before finding her forte in business as a salesperson for the Holiday Inn, Harding Glass, and Mass Glass. She was very active in the community, serving on the Board of Trustees for the Salvation Army for many years. She was also an avid golfer at the Pine Ridge Golf Course in Leicester and Brunswick Golf Course in N.C. Upon retirement to North Carolina, Rose became a member of the Brunswick Bells, later the Lady Birds golf league. She was also an enthusiastic member of the Carolina Shores Mahjong Group. After retiring, Rose continued helping people as a tutor for the Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School in North Carolina for several years. She was named Auxiliary President of the Year, for two consecutive years by the State of North Carolina for her work in the VFW Post 7288, Ladies Auxiliary.

    Rose and Robert were an exceptional and dynamic team. They were the only husband/wife to simultaneously serve the VFW Post 7288.

    Robert and Rose leave three children and their spouses: Lawrence and Mary Leonard of Shrewsbury, Helen Poirier and Paul Poirier of Auburn, Staci Leonard and Elizabeth Berkeley of Goffstown, NH; five grandchildren: Matthew Leonard, Luke Leonard, Kathryn Ferrie, Nathaniel Leonard and Joseph Poirier; and five great-grandchildren. Their son, Robert P. Leonard, preceded his parents in death in 2006.

    Rose is also survived by two sisters: Carmella Fanning of Auburn, MA and Virginia Stellato of Williamsburg, VA; and a brother, Joseph Pepper of California.

    The funeral for Robert and Rose will be held Friday, January 30th from the MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation St with a Mass of Celebration at 10:00 a.m. in St John Church, 44 Temple St. Burial will follow in Mt View Cemetery. Friends and relatives are invited to visit with the family, Thursday, January 29th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Lower Cape Fear Hospice and Life Care Center, 2222 South 17th St, Wilmington, NC 28401.



    Published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette on 1/28/2009

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    Thursday, January 29, 2009
    ‘Epic love story’ ends with couple still in sync

    58 years of life, and death, together

    By Jacqueline Reis TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
    jreis@telegram.com



    WORCESTER — Robert and Rose Leonard married twice in 1950: once for love when they eloped and once in a Catholic church to satisfy a parent.

    They stayed married for more than 58 years, through four children and the loss of a son. They lived long enough to dote on five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, long enough for Mr. Leonard to shoot at least one hole-in-one, and long enough to enjoy their retirement years in North Carolina.

    When their bodies failed after 80-something years, the couple was still in sync. On Friday afternoon, Mrs. Leonard died in a North Carolina hospital a week after she had been admitted for a bleeding ulcer. Mr. Leonard, who had been suffering from a terminal illness at the couple’s home, died that night.


    “They were an epic love story,” said Staci O. Leonard of Goffstown, N.H., the Leonards’ youngest daughter. “I kind of felt like, as kids, we were kind of secondary...

    “She worshipped the ground he walked on, and he thought she was a queen …

    “My mother would never entertain a thought or discussion about what she would do after Dad died,” Ms. Leonard continued. “I believe that she really wanted this.”

    Mr. Leonard became agitated at home at the same moment his wife was dying in the hospital, said their son, Lawrence R. Leonard of Shrewsbury. He never explicitly told his father that his mother had died. “I didn’t have to,” he said.

    Mr. and Mrs. Leonard were private about personal matters, but involved in both their communities: Worcester and Calabash, N.C., where they moved about 14 years ago. In Worcester, Mr. Leonard, who served in the Navy during World War II, was a firefighter from 1949 to 1994 and a member of the Knights of Columbus Alhambra Council, and he sang bass in the Worcester Men of Song and the Haystack Four. Mrs. Leonard, who was a saleswoman at several local businesses, was a former Cub Scout den mother and served on the board of the Salvation Army.

    In North Carolina, they continued their love of golf and became active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7288 and auxiliary. Mrs. Leonard also volunteered at an elementary school.

    They weren’t mirror images of each other, but they seemed to complement each other. Lawrence Leonard remembers his mother as “90 pounds of hell on wheels,” while Staci Leonard recalls a fiercely competitive “force of nature” who instilled in her the belief that she could do anything.

    Their father, in contrast, “was quiet and easygoing and didn’t say a whole lot,” his son said. “He had a quiet, wry sense of humor.”

    Worcester Fire Capt. Dennis Dolan said Mr. Leonard was an excellent firefighter, and called him an “old Navy man” who carried his military work ethic over when he joined the department.

    “He was a ’49er,” Capt. Dolan said. “There was a group of them who came on in ’49, and I think he was the last ’49er on the job.”

    As a senior man at the Webster Square Fire Station, Mr. Leonard knew his job well and was a quiet, but helpful presence, Capt. Dolan said.

    “Bob was sort of a go-to guy,” the captain said. “He was quiet, he did his job, and he was a good leader for the younger guys.”

    Capt. Dolan said when he was first assigned to the Webster Square station in 1985, it was the first time he had to oversee a ladder company in addition to an engine company. He said Mr. Leonard helped him adjust to the job.

    “He used to call me ‘Skipper,’ ” Capt. Dolan said. “I think that was from his Navy days.”

    In addition to Lawrence and Staci, the Leonards leave their daughter, Helen Poirier of Auburn, and Mrs. Leonard’s siblings: Carmella Fanning of Auburn, Virginia Stellato of Virginia, and Joseph Pepper of California.

    The couple was remembered in North Carolina, and a wake will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. tonight in Worcester at Mercadante Funeral Home. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. John Church.

    Steven H. Foskett Jr. of the Telegram & Gazette staff contributed to this report.

    http://www.telegram.com/article/2009...27/1008/NEWS02

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