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James Patrick Leahy

October 26, 1937 — May 4, 2014

Obituary Image
James Patrick Leahy, 76, of Columbus, Ohio and formerly of Tiffin, Ohio passed away at 9:54 pm, Sunday, May 4, 2014 at the Kobacker Hospice Center in Columbus.  He was born Oct. 26, 1937 in Tiffin  to James Clarence and Elizabeth Clare Kelley Leahy.

He is survived by one brother, Timothy  Leahy  of Tiffin and five sisters, Susan (David) Aller of Royal Oak, MI, Colleen (Jack Callahan) and Shannon of Chicago, IL, Terri (Robert) Kline of Lake Havasu City, AZ and Molly (James) Rogan of Fairbanks, AK.; his devoted nieces and nephews, Kelly Leahy, John (Melissa) Aller, Maureen (Joseph) Hunter, Michael Aller, Kevin (Shauna) Leahy, Erin Leahy, Heidi (Matt) Pattison, Brienne Callahan (Jeremy Karpen) as well as 18 great nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and a brother, Daniel.

Mr. Leahy graduated in 1955 from Calvert High School  and 1960 from Heidelberg College both in Tiffin. Upon graduation from Heidelberg, he enjoyed serving the citizens of Seneca County during his father’s tenure as Seneca County Engineer. He joined the administration of Governor John Gilligan, serving the state in many roles and especially in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources where he helped reopen the state parks after state budget cuts. He was elected Executive Director of the Ohio Democratic Party in 1970, where he managed all aspects of the State Convention and held this position until 1983. Mr. Leahy was a valued friend and advisor to Ohio Auditor of State Thomas E. Ferguson, and served in many administrative capacities before retiring from public service in 1995 as his Chief of Staff.

Mr. Leahy was leader in the Democratic Party at the national, state and local levels. Beyond serving as the Ohio Democratic Party executive director, he elected and reelected to 13 terms as a member of Ohio Democratic State Central and Executive Committees. He attended eight Democratic National Conventions either as a delegate or party official and served as the Ohio Arrangement Chair for three conventions, most recently the 2004 convention in Boston.  Before and after retirement, he led a successful political consulting firm. Many candidates, at all levels, owe their election to him. He was a trusted advisor to government leaders and professional athletes. Often, he won the American Advertising Federation ADDY award for excellence in political advertising. Mr. Leahy helped shape public policy as diverse as Congressional and State district reapportionment, park management and government fiscal responsibility and accountability.

Besides politics, his greatest loves were his brother, Tim, and athletics. In 1998, Mr. Leahy became Tim's legal guardian as well as protector and best friend. He was totally devoted to Tim who resides at the Tiffin Development Center. He was able to combine his numerous visits to Tim with many Heidelberg athletic events.  He recruited and saw to the welfare of countless Heidelberg students and graduates. While he loved almost all sports, the Heidelberg and Notre Dame Football teams were his favorites.

Visitation will be 9:30-11 a.m. Monday, May 12, 2014 followed by the funeral at 11:00 officiated by Rev. Mike Dandurand all at Traunero Funeral Home and Crematory, 214 S. Monroe Street, Tiffin, Ohio 44883 (419) 447-3113.  Burial will take place in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery, Tiffin.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the Athletic Department at Heidelberg University. 310 E. Market St, Tiffin, Ohio.
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