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Leo Kania

1924 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Leo Kania Obituary

Leo Kania, husband of Vivian Kania for 63 years, died on August 4, 2017. Born in Middletown on June 26, 1924, he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1942 where he starred in basketball and track. In track, he was outstanding in the shotput and discus throwing events, winning the Connecticut State Championship and setting school records in both events. Elected Captain of the 1941-42 track team that went undefeated, he again won the State Championships in the shotput and, again, set new school records in shotput and discus. As a varsity basketball player, Leo was elected Captain of the 1941-42 team that went undefeated and was named to the All State 2nd team. In 1941 he was named to the National Athletic Society of Secondary Schools, an honor given to students who exemplify the highest Citizenship and Sportsmanship standards. Leo was offered numerous college track and basketball scholarships, but his college plans were put aside as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Leo enlisted in the Army on April 6, 1943, trained at Camp Edwards, and was one of 45 local men assigned to the 110th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. On Christmas Eve 1943 Leo, with 14,000 troops, shipped out on the Queen Mary. The Queen Mary sailed unescorted, since she was the fastest ship afloat, dodging Nazi submarines as she raced across the Atlantic. After being billeted in Exmouth, England and training in Woodbury Common, England, on June 6, 1944, the 100th was part of the D-Day invasion, landing at Normandy at Omaha Beach. Leo and the 100th went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, and then escorted the French Army into Paris during the liberation. Among the memorable moments of Leo's military service was being interviewed by war correspondent Ernie Pyle. After Europe surrendered, he was assigned to a military prison to guard some of the most dangerous SS officers. He returned to the US, where, on December 8, 1945, left the service at Fort Devens, and returned to Middletown. His service experience defined him and over a 25 year period he organized five reunions for the area members of the 100th, culminating in the 60th reunion in 2003. When Leo returned from WWII, he earned a Bachelor's Degree from Central Connecticut State University and a Master's Degree and 6th Year Certificate from the University of Hartford. Leo had three careers. In his first career he was a teacher in the Portland and Middletown School systems. After he retired from teaching, his second career was as a school administrator for the Meriden School system. And in his third career he was a guest lecturer on WWII at numerous colleges and universities. Sports continued to play a large part in his life after he returned from WWII. He was on the track team at Central Connecticut State University, played semi-pro basketball for St. Mary's, was captain and coach of the State Polish League Championship, and was a member of the American Legion Post 75 basketball team. Leo served as a track coach and assistant basketball coach at Portland High, as assistant track coach at Woodrow Wilson High School, a soccer official for 30 years, and a basketball official for 18 years. Later in life he took up competitive swimming, and at the AAU 50-55 Age Group New England Championships, took first place in the 50-yard butterfly. He also took up both singles and doubles tennis. In 2002 he was inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame. Leo was an advocate of community service. He was a member of the Civitans for 50 years, serving in all officer positions. He was named Civitan of the year (1969-1970), Lieutenant Governor of the New England District (1990-1997), and Governor of the New England District (1999-2000), culminating in his receiving the Distinguished Leadership Award in Oslo, Norway in 2000. Leo was a member of the Catholic War Veterans, President of the St. Kazimierz Society, President of the Polish National, and a member of the Polish Falcons. He also served on the Middletown Vacant Buildings Committee and the Middletown Arts and Culture Committee. Leo was a life-long member of St. Mary's Church, serving as a lector, a member of the parish council, and a member of the planning and building committee. He was co-chairman of the 100th Anniversary of St. Mary's founding. Leo was a fan of UConn Women's Basketball and professional tennis. He looked forward to his tennis games with his good buddy, Sam Katz. Every Friday night, after playing mixed doubles with his wife and friends Ann and Paul Spaulding, the four of them could be found at the Monte Green, holding court, and solving the world's problems. Leo is survived by his wife, Vivian, sons Jeffrey C. Kane (Wei Jiang) of Washington, DC, David J. Kania (Israel Flores) of Middlefield, CT, and Thomas P. Kania (Joaquin Neira) of Old Greenwich, CT, his grandsons Cameron Davis-Kania, Casey Kania, Nikko Kania-Neira, and Markko Kania-Neira, and his beloved granddog, Bruzer. Leo was predeceased by his parents, Stephania and Stanislaus Kania, his brother, Alfred Kania, and his sisters, Elizabeth Chappel, Jane Drozd, and Mary Gryk. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday (Aug. 8th) at 10:15 a.m. from the Biega Funeral Home, 3 Silver St., Middletown followed by an 11 a.m. Funeral Liturgy at St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, Middletown. Interment with military honors will immediately follow at the Veterans Cemetery on Bow Lane. Friends may call at Biega Funeral Home on Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, 79 S. Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457. To share memories or express condolences online please visit www.biegafuneralhome.com.


Published in The Hartford Courant on Aug. 5, 2017
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