Former Chelsea High Football Standout and Pop Warner Coach Joe Leonard Dies at 84

Joseph Leonard

Joseph Leonard

Mr. Joseph Leonard of Chelsea died on May 29, 2014, following a brief illness at the Quigley Hospital at the Soldiers Home in Chelsea. He was 84.

Mr. Leonard was born in Chelsea and attended the Shurtleff School and Chelsea High School, Class of 1948.

In his early years, Mr. Leonard was a boxer and earned a Golden Gloves boxing title and was recruited by professional boxer trainers. Mr. Leonard once sparred with heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.

He was a standout lineman for Coach Henry McCarthy’s Red Devils football team, earning a reputation for his toughness as a blocker.

Mr. Leonard went on to attend Atlantic Christian College in North Carolina where he played two seasons of college football. He was the athletic director for the Roxbury Boys Club from 1949 to 1951 and was a counselor at Camp Bauercrest in the summers of 1950 and 1951 in Bunk Three.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Leonard was sent to serve in the Korean War as a private in the United States Army. He served this country from October, 1951 to September, 1953.

After the war, he entered the U.S. Postal Service he worked for more than 40 years. He became a Chelsea Pop Warner coach in the 1970s, receiving the award as the best Pop Warner coach in 1975.

He coached the undefeated Pop Warner ‘A’ team in 1973, teaching the game to such great athletes as Dominic LaMarra, Carmen Gallo, Keith Yianacopoulos, and Robbie Tiro, son of former CHS head football coach Anthony Tiro, who was instrumental in the founding of the Pop Warner organization.

Mr. Leonard was a member of the Chelsea Y.M.H.A. for more than 25 years. He enjoyed playing paddleball with other members including Paul “Choc” Glazer, Howie Glazer, Freddie Pasquariello, Nate Finklestein, and Paul Pedi.

He also competed in the well-known Wild Animal Basketball League Sunday mornings. Following the game, he would enjoys breakfasts prepared by “Punchy” Edelstein. One of the guests with whom Mr. Leonard socialized with at the breakfasts was heavyweight box “Pie” Weinberg.

Mr. Leonard spent his senior years walking on Revere Beach, weight training at the Northgate Gym, and spending time with his two sons, Darren and Scott, and their families.

“My father was so proud to be a grandfather,” said Darren Leonard. “He loved visiting his grandchildren and spending the day with them.”

One of Mr. Leonard’s favorite pastimes was to visit Katz Bakery in Chelsea and Luberto’s Bakery in Revere.

“My father loved the bagels and the bubke that Mr. Katz makes so well,” said Darren.

Mr. Leonard helped his sons, Darren and Scott, develop their football skills. Darren Leonard was a GBL All-Star running back and an excellent outside linebacker on the 1977-79 teams under the mentorship of head coach Todd Flaherty. Darren served as a football captain with Dave Batchelor.

Scott Leonard was also an outstanding football halfback and GBL All-Star noseguard and a part of one of Chelsea High’s greatest victories on Thanksgiving when the Red Devils stormed back from a 20-0 deficit to defeat Everett, 34-26 at Chelsea Memorial Stadium. He was also a recipient of the Thom McAn Scholar-Athlete Award.

One of his favorite saying to his sons, Darren and Scott, was “Run for daylight, because halfbacks have to hit the hole fast and cut to the light.”

Mr. Leonard also possessed a great sense of humor. “My father’s favorite saying was, ‘Are you alright?’ and ‘Are you playing with a full deck?’’’ recalled Darren.

A service was held for Mr. Leonard on Tuesday, June 3 at the Southern Maine Veterans Cemetery. Mr. Leonard received full military honors.

Sons Darren and Scott Leonard delivered the eulogy.

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