American Veteran 04

George Forrest Leahy

July 5, 1924 ~ August 3, 2021 (age 97)


Portland - George Forrest Leahy could be described as a person for whom the words of that Irish blessing “may the wind be always at your back “and “may the sun shine warm upon your face” held true.  After 97 years of a life that was fulfilling for him and impactful on his family and friends, George passed away on August 3, 2021, at home.


Born in Syracuse, New York, on July 5, 1924, to loving parents, Edna Glavin Leahy and George Forrest Leahy, George, Jr. saw his world change when his pharmacist father died suddenly; George, Jr. was 5, his sister Elizabeth (Betty) only 7 and his brother John (Jack) less than a year old.  While some would have allowed this loss to overshadow their lives forever, George (nicked named “Sunny” because of his disposition) focused on moving forward.


He graduated from high school, Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, with the plan to begin college in the Fall.  The bombing of Pearl Harbor and the ensuing War changed his life again.  Joining the Army/Air Force, he experienced great disappointment when he lost his coveted position as a radio operator (a position for which he had trained) just before his crew left to begin flying missions over Japan.  This plane was soon thereafter shot down; all crew members lost their lives.  George mourned the death of his friends while resolving to appreciate each day of his life.  Always the optimist, George often told his children that one can be disappointed about a detour in the road, but sometimes “things happen for the best.” 


George then became a tail gunner on a B-29 plane, “Sentimental Journey,” based on the Island of Tinian in the South Pacific from where he flew 7 missions over Japan with George Wallace (flight engineer) who later became governor of Alabama.  He attributed George Wallace’s skill as the reason their plane did not crash when it was caught in a heat draft over Japan.  Many years later, our George donated funds to help Japanese suffering because of tsunami destruction.  Life changes.


After the War, George went to Niagara University from which he graduated with a major in business.  His first job began and ended with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.  Accepting a transfer from the Syracuse to the Springfield, Massachusetts office, he met and married Alice Moriarty who was then working for the same company. George and Alice recently celebrated 69 years of marriage.  They have raised four children, Eileen Epstein (married to Ron), George F. Leahy III, Elizabeth Kulowski (married to Tom) and John (Jack) Leahy (married to Sandy).  Both George and Alice gave their children magical childhoods where discipline and family adventures inspired achievement and appreciation.  When George retired from Liberty Mutual in 1987, his speech at his farewell party focused on his good fortune to have married Alice and to have had a wonderful family—children, the first of many grandchildren to come, in-laws, siblings, nieces, a nephew, uncles, aunts, cousins as well as his mother who never remarried but devoted her life to her children.  Later he was blessed with 10 grandchildren: Daniel (Danny, who is married to Julie Hike) & James (Jamey) Epstein, Alicia, Jacqueline (Jackie) & George Leahy (IV), Kathryn Kulowski Swan (who is married to Edmund Swan), Laura & Michelle Kulowski, and Jennifer (Jenny) & Nicholas (Nick) Leahy.  Recently, he added two great-grandchildren, James & Andrew Swan.


On his 90th birthday, George summarized his life as one filled with good fortune.  The hardships were dismissed as obstacles less difficult than those faced by others.  With the wind at his back and the sun shining more often than not, he enjoyed a retirement filled with travelling, accordion playing, gathering with friends, attending school and sports events with grandchildren, volunteering at St. Joseph’s Church, participating in the Knights of Columbus, hiking many miles of the Appalachian Trail, trekking to Machu Pichu with his son George, boating and fishing on Sebago Lake in “My Pal,” and, lest one forget, being a ham radio operator.  At last, he had fulfilled his dream of communicating by shortwave radio to people all over the world.  Now NX1C has signed off from his earthly station, but his messages of love, listening and inspiration are replayed often among his family and friends.


Due to Covid concerns, the funeral will be private to be followed by a mass at a later date at St. Joseph’s Church in Portland, Maine.  The family would like to thank the wonderful caregivers from Hospice of Southern Maine for their kindness and compassion; without them George would not have been able to die peacefully at home with his wife Alice by his side as he had always wished.  The Portland police and fire departments provided much appreciated assistance as well.



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