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Leo F. Connolly

February 7, 1930 March 19, 2020
Leo F. Connolly
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Obituary for Leo F. Connolly

Leo Francis Connolly passed away on March 19, 2020 at the age of 90. Leo was born on February 7, 1930 in Council Bluffs, Iowa to J. Leo and Cecelia (Swassing) Connolly. He attended Holy Family grade school and St. Francis High School in Council Bluffs. He graduated from St. Francis in 1948. While in high school he worked several jobs in the ‘West End’ of Council Bluffs including delivering the Nonpareil and World Herald newspapers and pumping gas at the Skelly station.

He enrolled at Creighton University in 1948 and after three years of undergraduate study he was admitted to Creighton Law School. He worked his way through law school by starting a TV repair shop in 1950. He claimed it was the first TV repair shop between Chicago and the west coast.

Also, while in law school he fell in love with Patricia Scarpellino, the ‘girl down the street’. He and Patricia were married at Holy Family Catholic Church on May 5, 1951.

He graduated from law school in 1954 and joined his father in the family law firm: Connolly & Connolly with offices in the Wickham Building in downtown Council Bluffs.

His law practice quickly grew and he was known as an attorney that would help anyone with a problem. Many times he would not take a cash fee for his services; instead he would barter for services or products. Because of his reputation as a generous man, he attracted legal business from all over Southwest Iowa.

Leo was involved with his Church, St. Peter Catholic in Council Bluffs. He served as a lector during Mass and served on the Parish Council and School Board. He and Patricia were active members of the St. Peter Study Club in the 1960s. He also did volunteer maintenance projects at the church including installing a new sound system.

Leo was involved in many local service clubs and organizations. He was a Boy Scout leader and he and Patricia volunteered at many youth organizations.

Leo and Patricia had twelve children. Leo always had projects for the children to learn about, work on and complete under his supervision. An early project was to drive a fresh water well in the backyard of their South First home to provide air conditioning. While the project never met it’s intended purpose, it certainly kept the kids busy for a couple of summers.

He also enjoyed vacationing with his family. Usually this involved a car packed with kids pulling a trailer full of tents and sleeping bags. In the late 1960s he and Patricia envisioned a final family vacation before the oldest left for college. The planned trip was to Alaska in the summer of 1969. The first step was to convert a school bus into a camper for the months long trip.

Leo was a Ham Radio Operator and was involved with the Ak-Sar-Ben Radio Club. In the back yard of the South First home he installed several radio towers and a repeater system that was used for emergency communications during the 1975 tornado that struck the Council Bluffs/Omaha area.

He had a tendency to acquire various cars and trucks form a variety of sources including clients, insurance auctions and private sellers. He would rebuild and sometimes ‘merge’ a couple of cars into one.

In 1976 Leo was appointed as a District Court Judge by Governor Bob Ray. He closed his law office and began his second career as a Judge in the 4th District of Iowa, which covered the 10 counties in the southwestern corner of the state. He was known as a strong-minded judge that had little room for the shenanigans of attorneys in his courtroom. He was also known to take new lawyers ‘under his wing’ as they began their careers. He would say he approached his job in three ways:
+to be fair
+to be friendly
+to be firm.

In October of 1996 he took the first step toward retirement and moved to a Senior Status where he worked as a judge part-time and on-call. In 2006 he completely retired from the bench and moved permanently to Tucson Arizona.

He is survived by his wife Patricia of 68 years and his children, M. Brigid of Tucson, AZ, Frances of Manor TX, Joseph, Maureen, Stephen of Council Bluffs, Ann of Tucson AZ, Edward of Portland OR and Robert of Council Bluffs, along with 25 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren and extended family and friends throughout the country.

He was preceded in death by his parents James Leo and Cecelia, his son Patrick and triplet daughters at birth Elizabeth, Constance and Christine.

Losing Leo is like losing a library. He had volumes and volumes of knowledge that were available to anyone at anytime.

The family will hold a private burial at the St. Columbanus Cemetery in Weston, Iowa, with a Memorial Mass and Celebration of Leo’s life at a later date.

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