SCARBOROUGH — William E. Leo, 90, died on Aug. 12, with his family by his side.
The son of Antonio and Amelia (Amabile) Leo, he was born in Portland on June 16, 1924. As many other young men did, he turned to activities at the Boys Club on Cumberland Avenue, now the Boys and Girls Club. There, he learned to box, and soon excelled at the sport. He fought more than 50 fights in his boxing career, and won the Golden Gloves Lightweight Championship of Maine.
He attended local schools and graduated from Portland High School. Like his five older brothers, he then entered military service, joining the U.S. Air Force.
The single most important event in his life, he often said, was his marriage at age 18 to Martha “Hilda” Brown. The couple were married for 65 years and raised 10 children, on Portland’s Oxford Street and later in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood.
As a young boy, he worked as a mason with his father. Later, he became an iron worker, and eventually served as general foreman of Consolidated Construction. While in this position, he helped construct Casco Bank, Portland Public Library, Maine Savings Bank and many bridges throughout the state. He also established a masonry business with his sons, which went on to play a major role in the restoration of Portland’s Old Port district.
Leo was known for his Italian singing, which was heard frequently throughout the city.
He was predeceased by his wife, Martha; his son, William J. Leo; his daughter, Carol Jean Ham; and his 15 siblings.
Leo is survived by children Patricia Ham and husband, Gregory, of Portland, Thomas Leo and wife, Maria, of Portland, Kathleen Leo and partner, Janet Hawks, of Portland, Maureen Sidelinger and husband, Gary, of Cumberland, Daniel Leo and wife, Lucretia, of Portland, James Leo, of Portland, Cynthia Darling and husband, Russell, of Falmouth, and Timothy Leo, of Portland. He also is survived by 24 grandchildren, Brigid, Jodi, Sarah, Dominic, Michael, Susan, Jeffery, Eric, Julie, Emily, Martha, William, Benjamin, Andrew, Daniel, Leslie, Danielle, Bradley, Elizabeth, Melissa, Jamie, Vanessa, Victoria and Ryan; and many great- and great-great-grandchildren.
Visitation was held Aug. 15, and a Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Aug. 16 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Portland. Interment followed at Calvary Cemetery, in South Portland.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Leo’s memory to the Boys and Girls Club, P.O. Box 1438, Portland ME 04112.