LIBERTY TWP. - Horace Raymond “Toots” Leone died peacefully at Liberty Healthcare Center on March 30, 2021, at the age of 97. Ray was born September 3, 1923 in Youngstown.
A few years ago while discussing a friend’s lengthy obituary with his younger brother Carmen, Ray said his own obituary would only include the details of his funeral, because there wouldn’t be much to say. His family disagrees.
Ray was the second of five children born to Carmen and Josephine Leone. After graduating from East High School in 1943, Ray fought in World War II and earned numerous honors, including the Combat Infantryman Badge. But his service is better described by the stories he told his grandchildren decades later. While stationed in France, he saved the life of a baby who had stopped breathing. The baby’s grateful parents named their next son Roger Horace. They later wrote to Ray, asking him to be the boy’s godfather.
After returning from the war, he gave up GI-sponsored college to work at the General Fireproofing Company in Youngstown to help support his family.
Ray met the love of his life Louise Sferra at a square dance at St. Ann’s Church in 1950. They married in 1954 and had six children.
Every visitor was family at Ray and Louise’s beautiful home on Catherine Street. For decades, the beloved gathering space for family, friends, neighbors and the occasional pet was filled with love and plenty to eat. He reminded every departing visitor: “If you get tired, pull over.”
When 20-year-old Ray survived one of the bloodiest battles of World War II clutching a string of rosary beads, he promised he’d recite a rosary every day for the rest of his life. A devout Catholic, he always carried rosary beads in his pocket and was probably the oldest altar server at St. Edward’s Church. He famously led his family in prayer before frequent gatherings that spilled into the basement and garage of the house on Catherine Street. He never forgot to bless those who made the meal.
Ray was deeply faithful, unfailingly generous and always kind. He had a nickname for everyone and a sweet tooth satisfied only by a midnight snack. He loved music and played the piano beautifully.
But, he was never happier than when he was surrounded by his family and knew everyone was safe.
Ray was preceded in death by his son Dom, who died of cancer in 1989 at the age of 29. The family kept Dom’s creative spirit alive by sponsoring the Dom Leone Writing Competition, which has encouraged young writers in the Mahoning Valley since 1991. He was also preceded in death by his parents; aunts Lena, Jessie and Georgia; uncles Fred, Amie and Dom; and sisters Dolly and Dolores.
Ray will be dearly missed by his wife Louise; siblings Rita and Carmen; children Rose (Bob) Casal, Raym, Mary Jo, Joe (Mike) and Jim (Denise); grandchildren Nikki (Jason) Moore, Jackie (Alex) Mahrou, Elliott (Alba), Leigh, Megan (Corbin) Hardy, Lena, Joey, Rosie, Jessie, Charlotte, Dom, Christina, Amanda and Jimmy; and great-grandchildren Nina, Charlie and Vinny.
His immediate family will celebrate his life with a private mass at St. Edward’s Church on April 5 at 11 a.m. The service will be streamed live on the church’s website http://www.saintedwardparish.org. A memorial celebration will be planned this summer, when it’s safe to do so.
If you wish to honor Ray’s memory, please make a donation in his name to St. Edward’s Parish, 240 Tod Lane, Youngstown, OH 44504.
Thoughts and condolences maybe sent to the funeral home website www.mccauleyfuneral.com.
Arrangements by The McCauley Funeral Home serving the valley for more than 119 years.
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