Raymond F. Leahy
Raymond Francis Leahy died at Heritage Green Rehab and Skilled Nursing Facility, Greenhurst, N.Y., on May 20, 2019, at the age of 90.
A longtime resident of Jamestown, N.Y., he served as superintendent of schools at Randolph Central School in Randolph, N.Y., from 1970-84.
He was born Jan. 11, 1929, in Hemmingford, Quebec, to Thomas Leahy and Helen Dowd Leahy on a farm that his great- grandfather, Andrew Leahy, a native of County Tipperary, Ireland, purchased in the 1840s. When the bulk of the farm was sold in the 1970s, Raymond and his siblings kept three acres of the farm’s roadside frontage, whose ownership remains in family hands to this day.
He spent his childhood working on the farm alongside his father and older brother. After he graduated from the eighth grade of Hemmingford’s Ryan Road School at the age of 12, he went to work at a series of manual labor jobs that included delivery boy, factory worker, bus boy, apple picker and wood chopper in Montreal and the Hemmingford area.
The details of those jobs and his subsequent career were described in his 2008 memoir, Principal Without a Diploma.
He moved to the United States in 1947 to take a job working on a farm in Richmond, Vt. In 1948. he moved to Plattsburgh, N.Y., where he got a job at a creamery loading milk cans delivered by local dairy farmers into processing vats.
In 1951, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and was given the choice of avoiding military service and returning to his native Canada, or reporting for duty and becoming an American citizen.
He chose the United States, and never looked back.
He served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and was on a troop transport train to California, bound for South Korea, when the Korean War Armistice was announced. He never arrived in California. Instead, he was assigned to Fort Campbell in Clarksville, Tenn., where he earned his high school General Equivalency Degree (GED).
Upon his discharge from the Army, he returned to New York and enrolled in Oswego State University, now SUNY at Oswego, on the GI Bill. Playing to his strengths and his familiarity with the operation of farm and industrial equipment, he decided to focus on vocational education and become an industrial arts teacher.
While in college he married a fellow student, Sylvia Angeline Lounsbery Greene of Hannibal, N.Y., with whom he had four children before they divorced in 1978.
A young man in a hurry during that period, Raymond finished college in three years, receiving a bachelor’s degree in teaching, and got a job teaching industrial arts in Ballston Spa, N.Y., in 1956. In 1958, he returned to the Plattsburgh, N.Y., area, where he got a job as a teacher and chairman of the industrial arts department of Beekmantown Central School. During the summers he built houses, including one for his own family on Olivetti Place in Plattsburgh, that still stands today. He also owned and operated the Adirondack Driving School.
He earned his master’s degree in public school administration from Albany State College (now SUNY at Albany) in 1962, and in 1963, he was named the principal of Dannemora Public Schools in Dannemora, N.Y. In 1967, he moved to Munnsville in Central New York, where he became superintendent of schools of Stockbridge Valley Central School. In 1970, he was named superintendent of schools at Randolph Central School in Cattaraugus County, a post from which he retired in 1984. During his career in education, he was named to the first statewide board that laid the foundation for BOCES, New York State’s vocational educational program.
He married Bonnie Kaiser in 1995, with whom he lived happily for more than 23 years at their residence in Jamestown, N.Y.
Raymond Leahy was known for his stubbornness, persistence and honesty, traits which he passed down to his children, grandchildren, and step- grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents and all four of his siblings: Bernard Leahy of Champlain, N.Y., Carl Leahy of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., Bernice Leahy Harnett of Plattsburgh, N.Y., and Shirley Leahy Rickis of Arizona.
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Kaiser Leahy of Jamestown, N.Y.; and his four children: Michael Leahy and his spouse, Debye of Thompsons Station, Tenn., Tina Gray, whose late husband was Mitch Gray, formerly of Salamanca, N.Y., and now of Thomasville, N.C., Thomas Leahy and his spouse. Kara of Conway Springs, Kans., and Richard Leahy and his spouse. Kathleen, formerly of Randolph, N.Y., and now of Clovis, Calif.
He is also survived by granddaughter, Amber Gray Bryant, her spouse, Lee Bryant and their child, Ava of Thomasville, N.C., grandson, Cameron Gray of Fairbanks, Alaska, granddaughter, Courtenay Leahy of Nashville, Tenn., granddaughter, Honor Leahy of Nashville, Tenn., grandson Ryan Leahy and his children: Annin and Toryn of Yosemite National Park, Calif., grandson, Adam Leahy and his spouse, Alex of Providence, R.I., grandson, Carl Leahy, his spouse, Molly and their children: Theodore and Roslyn of Portsmouth, Va., and granddaughter Brenna Leahy of Manhattan, Kans.
In addition, he is survived by stepdaughter, Melissa Mueller and her husband Joseph, step- granddaughters: Grace Camarata and Serena Camarata and step-grandsons: Matthias Mueller, Anton Mueller, Luca Mueller, and Rawlin Mueller, all of Falconer, N.Y.
A private funeral and memorial service will be held in the Lind Funeral Home. Michael Leahy, Raymond’s son will officiate. Burial will be in the Sunset Hill Cemetery. Visitation will not be observed.
You may leave words of condolence to Raymond’s family at www.lindfuneral home.com.