John H. Leahy
1937 - 2015
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John H. Leahy Feb. 17, 1937 - Aug. 19, 2015 NOTRE DAME - John H. Leahy, born on February 17, 1937, in Niles, Illinois, on the north side of Chicago, went to Heaven from Lake Arrowhead, California, on August 19, 2015, after losing a fast-paced battle with cancer. He follows his mother and father, Elinor and Harry Leahy, his brother, Terry, and his sister, Maureen, in death. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Sheila Martin, his sister, Mary Jo (Gene Johnson), and brother, Tom (Mary), sister-in-law, Polly, stepchildren, Martin Parsons (Michelle), David A. Parsons, Bethany (Rick Clements), Michelle (David K. Rogers) and Michael Parsons (Stephanie). Grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Lauren, Meghan and Nathan Parsons, Zachary Clements, Jewel, Catherine and Jacob Rogers, Liam John Parsons, and many nieces and nephews, great ones too, in Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio and Connecticut. A man of complete humility and integrity, love of God and family, and the greatest Irish wit bar none, John attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Elementary School in Chicago, graduated from Loyola Academy High School, earned his B.A. in journalism '59, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Notre Dame '64. An avid fan of college football, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame were always #1. He was the senior football manager at Notre Dame, and lived in the football stadium during his law years, locking it up and taking care of Clashmore Mike, whom he referred to as the mean little Irish Terrier mascot of those days, earning himself the title of proprietor of the Stadium Bar and Grill. John continued to serve his beloved University as a member of the Monogram Club, serving several years on its Board of Directors; a member of the Sorin Society; supporter of the Rockne Heritage Fund and a member of its Director's Circle. Having spent many summers on the shores of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, John was an avid sailor from a very early age. He loved to sail his 22' Columbia, Courtship, off the shores of Long Beach during his years in California, and was a longtime member of the Long Beach Yacht Club. Before Law School John went into the United States Navy as a commissioned officer, serving on the USS Collet, intending to make the Navy his career, until his goal was thwarted by seasickness and two collisions at sea, one during anti-submarine warfare maneuvers off the coast of Long Beach, actually nabbing one of our own subs. Never to be discouraged, he enlisted in the Navy reserve and retired with the rank of Captain after a 30-year stint with the Navy. A return to law school after his active duty years then led to careers as a Chicago attorney - until the snow and slush gave way to the sunshine of California; administrative assistant to California Assemblyman Mike Cullen; Councilman and Mayor of the City of Carson, California; Santa Claus to many, many children of friends and fellow members of the Carson Rotary Club; court commissioner in the City of Compton before being appointed to the bench as a municipal court judge for the City of Compton by Governor Jerry Brown. He was successful in his subsequent election to the Superior Court of the State of California, serving in the fast track civil courts of Los Angeles, an assignment he described as redistributing the wealth of the Nation. After thirty years on the bench he and Sheila retired to their home "On Golden Pond" in Lake Arrowhead, California. For many years he sat in San Bernardino County in their Assigned Judge program which allowed time to pursue many a cruising vacation to the South Pacific, Hawaii, Alaska, transit through the Panama Canal, both trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific cruises, Ireland, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro. While his final two weeks were difficult, his last few days became more comfortable and his last breath in total peace at 9:35 a.m. in Sheila's arms. They were blessed in their retirement by Our Lady of the Lake faith community in Arrowhead, and a full-time priest from the Congregation of the Resurrection for all their years in retirement - Father Tim, Father Len, and now Father Michal. In lieu of flowers - but not of prayers - donations may be made the Congregation of the Resurrection, 3601 North California Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60618, Attn: Brother Bill, to support seminarians with vocations to the priesthood. Funeral services in Lake Arrowhead were handled by Montecito Mortuary and Funeral Home in Colton, California (www.montecitomemorialparkandmortuary.com. Mass of Christian Burial was held Monday, August 24, 2015, at 7:00 pm in Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, 27627 Rim of the World Drive, Lake Arrowhead, CA. Visitation was in the church beginning at 4:30 p.m., Rosary at 6:00 p.m., and eulogies until 6:45 p.m. Funeral services at the University of Notre Dame are being handled by Palmer Funeral Home - Hickey Chapel (www.palmerfuneralhomes.com), South Bend, Indiana. Visitation will be from 1:00 - 3:00 pm Thursday, August 27, 2015, at their Hickey Chapel, 17131 Cleveland Road, South Bend. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 3:30 pm Thursday, August 27th, in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, with interment following in Our Lady of Sorrows Mausoleum in Cedar Grove Cemetery. Online condolences may be left for the Leahy family at www.palmerfuneralhomes.com.




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Published in South Bend Tribune on Aug. 26, 2015.
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28 entries
September 19, 2015
Family,
You have my long winded memories of John, but I loved this one, but this isn't my story. Cousin Patrick was in college getting ready to go out for a night on the town and Cops was on, and suddenly across the screen it said, "The Honorable John H. Leahy." Patrick was so excited, boasting, "That's my uncle!!!" Michelle followed up that story with, "Yes every time that came on the phone would flood with 27 phone calls from people. I loves uncle John judge stories, because he showed so much compassion in a world that sometimes makes you doubt there is any compassion left. I feel incredibly lucky and honored I not only knew John, but he was my uncle. With a lot of love to you all!
Kate Davis
September 18, 2015
When I went to college, one of the social highlights was getting to go to the Carriage House with Uncle John. While getting a fancy dinner was a highlight for any college kid, the main show was always getting to hear Uncle John tell stories. My favorite was him talking about living in the stadium and the adventures of walking the dog, a story I still tell to my friends. Who else lived in the Notre Dame stadium? And he had so many stories to tell because he was such an interesting man. The world needs more John Leahys and he will be greatly missed.
Elaine Reddy
September 18, 2015
Mama Sheila,
I am so glad I was able to know John even if it was just the last couple years. He was such a kind soul. You are in my thoughts and I am always here if you need ANYTHING. *Big Hugs* Love you Mama!
Roxxanne Reza
September 18, 2015
Sheila, What I remember most about John was his ready laugh! He could see the humor in any situation. He once took me and my friends from Watsonville on a boat ride at Lake Arrowhead and suddenly we were all awash from a big wave! John and I laughed and laughed--I'm not sure my friends were as thrilled!
Jewel Hyland
September 15, 2015
Tom, thank you so much for the Volkswagen story. But that's not the one I was thinking of. In fact, I had never heard it before! Now having heard it, the fact that after we slid on ice into a snowbank some years ago on Rim of the World the mountain highway I understand how my husband could disappear so quickly. I got out on the snowy side of the car to see if chains would help. Returning to the front of the car to report...John had disappeared. Completely. Some long moments later I heard a muffled cry - John had gotten out on the icy side of the road, slipped on the ice, and ended up falling on his back...breaking BOTH shoulders. I am sure his past experience with cars & ice is how he managed to survive.
Much love to all our friends! Please do share more memorable stories!
Sheila
September 13, 2015
Dear Sheila and family,
It was a great privilege for me to be able to attend the servce in Lake Arrowhead and to get to meet the wonderful family John acquired when he married Sheila. I repeat what I said at the Mass on August 24. When John received the order to cast off all lines for his final voyage he could cast off all but one--the line that connects him to our hearts where he will forever remain.
He was a teriffic storyteller and in his life he was involved in a lot of stories worthy of telling and retelling as only he could do it. It therefore came as a great surprise to me when I learned that you all were unaware of the time he nearly ran over himself with his own car. For posterity, here it is again although reading it doesn't compare with hearing John tell it.
It happened sometime between mid-1959 and mid-1961. John drove his 1959 Volkswagen to O'Hare Airport during the wintertime and when he returned to the car in the parking lot he discovered that the rear (drive) wheels were setting on ice and frozen snow, preventing them from getting the traction they needed in order to allow the car to be backed out of its parking place. Inventive as he was, John reasoned that if he put the car in gear and let the choke out just a bit the car would not stall as long as the wheels kept spinning on the frozen surface. He further reasoned that if he left the driver's door open and got behind the car and pulled on the bumper he could get the car moving and simply step into the open door, take the car out of gear and apply the brakes. He was correct in reasoning most of this scenario but as he told it, "The door was coming at me a lot faster than I anticipated so I thought I'd just step aside and let the car go past. But I slipped on the frozen surface and fell on my back, arms outstretched. I could see the tire advancing toward my outstretched arm and thought I could just roll to my left. But by then the front tire had pinned my overcoat to the ground and I could not roll. The tire advanced toward my armpit-- Firestone, Firestone, Firestone--and just as it was about to roll over my arm the car stopped, having bumped into the car that was parked across the aisle. (I first thought my armpit had stopped the advancing tire and began to doubt the efficacy of my deodorant.) I then had to squirm out of the coat that was pinned to the ground by the car. As I was wriggeling on the ground in an effort to get out of the coat two nicely dressed ladies on the way to their car came upon me and stood there aghast at this fellow flat on his back attempting to extract himself from his overcoat. They were quite startled but did not offer any assistance. I had difficulty explaining to my Mother how a tire tread imprint got on the lining of my overcoat."
There you have it. I am going to ND this week and will light a candle at the Grotto for John's great spirit and for all of you.
Tom Conneely, ND Law '64
August 27, 2015
Mary Jo, Gene & David
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Bill Plante, Sheila Leahy, Mike Leahy
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
David Parsons, Maureen Leahy, Patrick Leahy
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Sheila Leahy, Polly Leahy, Jewel Rogers
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Kevin Leahy, Catherine Rogers, Elaine Ellis Reddy
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Patrick, Mike, Maureen, Kevin Leahy
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
David K Rogers with daughter Jewel
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Catherine & Jacob Rogers with Gene Johnson
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Mary Jo Leahy, Joe Mulligan, Kate Davis
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
{photos courtesy of Michelle Rogers}
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Internment in Our Lady of Sorrows Mausoleum, Cedar Grove Cemetery, on the south side of campus.
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Internment in Our Lady of Sorrows Mausoleum, Cedar Grove Cemetery, on the south side of campus.
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
Navy officers saluting Captain John H. Leahy as he arrived at the mausoleum.
Bethany Clements
August 27, 2015
{photo courtesy of Michelle Rogers}
The bell is tolling for John, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.
August 26, 2015
Sheila, I am so sorry on your loss of John. Dorothy and I were so glad to be able to talk to you at the 50th Law School Reunion.

Since I live with the sure and certain knowledge that Dorothy is in heaven she was probably one of the first to greet John when he arrived becuase, based on my years at Notre Dame and what I read in the obituary he most assurely was welcomed in heaven by our Heavenly Father and all the saints, both those recongnized and those whose sanctity has not been officially recognized but is no less real.

Charles
August 25, 2015
John Leahy was a kind, gentle soul, he will be truly missed. God bless and keep you close, John.
LeAnne Jones
August 25, 2015
Dear Sheila, the obituary and description on Facebook painted a pretty good picture of your love. It tells all that you were truly blessed when God brought you and John together. Then to be able to share 25 years and your families ... you had a wonderfully blessed life together. May you know and feel the sympathy and comfort of family and friends while you pass through this transition. You know you are loved but it's nice to hear it too. May you feel the comfort of Our Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus as you take this walk, and may John rest in eternal peace. Sending my love, affection ... & hugs!
Laura Morales
August 25, 2015
John Leahy was a loyal Notre Dame Alum, A very competent Naval Officer and shipmate and a dear friend.

Pete Mootz
August 24, 2015
My deepest regrets to the Family. My deepest respect to the Honorable Judge Leahy. What a life of achievement and adventure!
Chris Judd
August 24, 2015
Papa,
You were the greatest step-father anybody could have ever asked for! Thank you, not just for marrying my mom, but for accepting all 5 of her children as your own! We were incredibly blessed to have you in our lives. You will be greatly missed..
Love, Bethany
August 23, 2015
The Notre Dame Class of 1959 mourns the loss of one of our great classmates, and good friend to so many in the Notre Dame community.

Joe Mulligan
President, Notre Dame Class of 1959
August 23, 2015
John, I love you. Sheila
Sheila Leahy
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