James Patrick Leahy

James Patrick Leahy, 76, of Columbus and formerly of Tiffin, passed away Sunday, May 4, 2014, at 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 a brother, Timothy Leahy of Tiffin, and five sisters, Susan (David) Aller of Royal Oak, Mich., Colleen (Jack Callahan) and Shannon of Chicago, Terri (Robert) Kline of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Molly (James) Rogan of Fairbanks, Alaska.; his devoted nieces and nephews, Kelly Leahy, John (Melissa) Aller, Maureen (Joseph) Hunter, Michael Aller, Kevin (Shauna) Leahy, Erin Leahy, Heidi (Matt) Pattison and 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. 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 Gov. John Gilligan, serving the state in many roles and especially in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, where he helped re-open state parks after state budget cuts. He was elected executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party in 1970, and he managed all aspects of the state convention and held this position until 1983. Mr. Leahy was a valued friend and adviser 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 a leader in the Democratic Party at the national, state and local levels. Beyond serving as the Ohio Democratic Party executive director, he was elected and re-elected 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 chairman 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 elections to him. He was a trusted adviser 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 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 a.m. officiated by the Rev. Mike Dandurand, all at Traunero Funeral Home and Crematory, 214 S. Monroe Street, Tiffin, OH 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, OH 44883.

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James Patrick Leahy

James Patrick Leahy, 76, of Columbus, died Sunday, May 4, 2014, at Kobacker Hospice, Columbus. Arrangements are pending at Traunero Funeral Home and Crematory.