WILLIAM STANLEY O'NEIL LEAVITT - BURLINGTON - William Stanley O'Neil Leavitt, 74, of Burlington, succumbed suddenly to congestive heart failure on Oct. 11, 2011. He was born Dec. 31, 1936, at home in Wilder, the son of Henry B. and Charlotte (Elliott) Leavitt. He was the fourth of seven children. Bill attended public schools in Wilder. He was a standout football and basketball player at Hartford High School. Upon graduation in 1955, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, reporting to Ft. Dix, N.J. for basic training. He served under the Continental Army Command at bases in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Georgia, attaining the rank of Sergeant. Upon returning to Vermont, Bill married fellow Hartford High graduate, Jeanne Fogg, in 1957. The couple resided in White River Junction before moving to Winooski in 1959 with their first of four boys. They soon after moved to what became Bill's lifelong residence on North Avenue in Burlington, prior to the arrival of their second child. Bill undertook a careerlong commitment to business and industry in the Green Mountain State. Beginning with wholesaler Vermont Hardware in White River Junction and continuing with Oxygen & Welding Supply in Williston, Bill spent more than a decade selling supplies and instructing welding across the state. He gave the tools of industrial production to many that would go on to help build Vermont. He next took an assignment representing C.R. Wood Corporation, providing heavy equipment to a range of clients regionally. In 1973, Bill founded Essex Rental and Sales Center on Kellogg Road in Essex Junction. He and partner, Clinton Morse, developed a thriving enterprise that supplied equipment for commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential markets. Bill had a broad following among contractors throughout the state. The company was sold in the late 1980s. Essex Equipment continues to grow to this day. Bill later partnered with the Casey Brothers of Hinesburg and built Vertec Supply, Inc. into a competitive geotextiles company. He retired from Vertec in late 2008. Bill made a commitment in 1966 to helping Charlie Schifilliti, Bob Rosenberg, and other dedicated parents build one of the strongest Little League organizations in the country. Bill spearheaded construction of a new field in the complex off Gosse Court, as he believed that the community's rapidly expanding youth should all have a chance to play. In 1975, Bill and Ed Hesford coached the New England Little League all-star champions from North Burlington, a team that included son Paul. The team fell in the last inning of the Eastern Regional semifinal to the eventual World Series champions from Lakewood, N.J. Bill's father, the force of the Hartford Police Department, was a leader in the Elks organization in White River Junction. Bill was proud to continue the legacy. As a longtime member of BPOE #916 in Burlington, he volunteered thousands of hours to community service. He was honored as an Elk of the Year and recently poured himself into generating resources for the construction of new housing for the special campers of Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in the Champlain Islands. Bill treasured his Elks family, a source of endless affection for him. One of Bill's great adventures was a solo trip to Alaska in 2003. For two weeks, he fulfilled a lifelong dream. Whether in a rented camper van in Denali National Park, or taking it in from a float plane, Bill reveled in the grandeur. He prized most the great photo he captured of Mt. McKinley, second only to Camel's Hump in his heart. Bill will long be remembered for his love of the family camp he built in Hanksville on the Huntington River. He spent part of his final weekend there with family and neighboring camp owners. It is where his spirit soared, as it had for son David. Bill leaves proud survivors, son, Thomas and wife, Diane, of Burlington; son, James of Burlington; son, Paul and wife, Jacinta, of South Burlington; grandson, LT Joseph William Leavitt, USN and fiancee, Jessie Benway, of Groton, Conn.; grandson, John Thomas Leavitt of South Burlington; grandson, Levi Paul Leavitt of South Burlington; special friend and former wife, Jeanne Leavitt of South Burlington; brother, Edwin and wife, Dottie of White River Junction; sister, June Gunzinger and husband, Bill of Lakeland, Fla.; sister, Rachel Darrah and husband, Tom, of White River Junction; beloved nephews and nieces; and many dear friends throughout the community. Bill is predeceased by his parents; sister, Janet Ford; brother, Henry; sister, Jean Leavitt; and youngest son, David (March 2, 2009). A celebration of life is planned for Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at the Elks Lodge on North Avenue in Burlington. Reception will begin at 3:30 p.m., with family remarks at 4:30 p.m. A private graveside memorial will be scheduled for a later date. In lieu of flowers, donors may contribute to, Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, Hero Fund, P.O. Box 459, South Hero, VT 05486. Ready Funeral Services is handling arrangements.
Published in The Burlington Free Press from Oct. 12 to Oct. 13, 2011.