Lesperance, Leonard E.
Leonard E. Lesperance, age 94, a resident of Northland Lodge, 2500 Garfield St., Two Rivers, died peacefully early Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014.
Leonard was born in Coleman, WI to the late George and Mary (Parenski) Lesperance, on December 2, 1919. He grew up on the family farm in Pound. Leonard attended Lincoln High School in Meriden, CT his freshman and sophomore years and finished high school at Coleman High School. One of his biggest thrills was to tell the story how Willie Pep, an American professional boxer and considered to be one of the best fighters of the 20th century, befriended Leonard as a young man in Connecticut and asked if he would carry his bags into the boxing ring.
He joined the Army in September, 1943 and was sent to Hoff, Germany on March 4, 1944 during World War II. He was assigned to the infantry and saw action in several European communities. His love of baseball drove him to try out for the Army baseball team, the Unicorn Free Press. He was the starting catcher and played alongside many major league players who also played on the team. When he returned from Germany in March 1946 he settled in Coleman. He wanted to be a farmer so he built silos and earned a diploma in Mechanics School. In addition, he worked in Northern Wisconsin as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservations Corps (CCC) that put thousands of Americans to work during the Great Depression on projects with environmental benefits. He worked in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest planting trees.
In 1947 he moved to Two Rivers and initially worked at the Aluminum Goods and then met Sylvia Grimm in March of 1949 as well as her three young boys, John (3), Bill (2), and Jim (18 months) Grimm. He worked on Sylvia's farm and they married in October 25, 1953 at St. Luke's Catholic Church. While also serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Town of Two Rivers, he helped raise the three boys and in 1956, he and Sylvia had a daughter, Ann Lesperance. Leonard's interest in baseball continued and in 1950, following a meeting with Howie Timm, Woody Guetschow, and the Manitowoc County Baseball League president, "Lenny" paid the franchise fee to help form the Two Rivers Cubs as a league entry. He briefly played as a catcher, but his work on the farm prevented him from dedicating full time as a player. In the 1960's after which Two Rivers also had the Polar Bears as the second entry in the county league, Leonard briefly coached the Two Rivers Cubs. Just one week ago, Lenny was the guest of honor at a Two Rivers Polar Bears home game played at Walsh Field.
Leonard loved farming and helped teach the three boys and his daughter the benefits of hard work and honesty, two personal traits that he carried throughout his life. He enjoyed sports throughout his life and would fit in his daily chores the joy of playing baseball, basketball and football with his children. Although he and Sylvia retired from farming and moved to Two Rivers in 1972, he never lost his love for working outdoors. He worked for Lakeside Canning Company from 1978 to 1992 and was a respected field foreman for most of those years.
Leonard is survived by his wife Sylvia of 60 years, stepson Bill Grimm and his wife Maryan in Carmel Valley, CA, stepson Jim Grimm, who still runs the family farm in Two Rivers, daughter Ann Lesperance and husband Kelly Morris in Bainbridge Island, WA. Step-grandchildren include Michele (Grimm) O'Rourke in Verona, WI, Heather (Grimm) Szot in Waunakee, WI, Gretchen Grimm in Mequon, WI, and grandchildren include Alex and Haley Morris in Bainbridge Island, WA. Notable step great grandchildren include Tristan, Aubriana, and Madison. Brothers and sisters include: Dorothy Stodola, Kewaunee; Lorraine Hetue, Oconto Falls; Bernice (John) Goetz, Oconto; Joyce (Ralph) Seewald, Lena; Betty Jane Lesperance, Peshtigo, Bernard (Pat) Lesperance, Coleman; Violet Kowalczyk, Lena; Marie Boulanger, Two Rivers; Carol (Lyle) Ausloos, Marlene Kortbein, both of Menomonee Falls; and Janice (Gale) Wogsland, Pound.
On his immediate family, Leonard was preceded in death by his mother and father, Mary and George Lesperance, stepson John Grimm, brothers Lester, Clement and Francis, and sisters Shirley and Joan. He is also survived by 52 nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, July 21, 2014 at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church, 3201 Mishicot Rd. Two Rivers. Officiating at the Mass of Christian Burial will be the Rev. Dick Mauthe, with burial to follow in Holy Cross Cemetery, Two Rivers. Military graveside rites will be accorded by members of the VFW Post #1248 and American Legion Post #165 of Two Rivers.
Friends may call at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church, Two Rivers from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m. Monday morning. There will be no Sunday evening visitation.
The family would like to thank Marie Boulanger and Lyle and Carol Ausloos, as well as the staff at Northland Lodge Assisted Living and Southern Care Hospice for their kindness and comfort they provided to Leonard.
Deja and Martin Funeral Chapel
1506 18th Street
Two Rivers, WI 54241
Published in Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter from July 18 to July 20, 2014