PARADE GRAND MARSHAL
Leo F. Downey
Leo F. Downey was born in Newport in 1933 to Michael F. and Helen A. Sullivan Downey, who are both deceased. He was one of four children, the other 3 being sisters who currently all reside in Newport; Marion Galvin, Pauline Fahey, and Grace Curran. He grew up on Grafton Street in Newport’s Fifth Ward section as a child and still resides on Grafton Street, but at a different address than the house he grew up in. He is a parishioner of Saint Augustin Church.
In 1962 Leo married Diane Homer. Together they have four children; Mary Beth Vierra, Michael Downey, Nicolle Icart, and Jamie Downey.
Leo attended De La Salle Academy than worked at the Irish American Athletic Club, Sully’s, and Shamrock Cliff bartending after he finished his schooling. He was hired by Raytheon Corporation where he worked for thirty years before retiring and being rewarded with a gold watch.
Leo has been active with the Dennis E. Collins Ancient Order of Hibernians for over 30 years. He is a Life member and served as the Steward of the local Hall at one time. Numerous dinners have been put on for AOH and Ladies AOH fundraisers by Leo Downey. He also put on fundraising dinners for a vocational technical scholarship that was given out by the AOH for a number of years. Leo has put on many memorable dinners, including the annual Ladies AOH Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner, Cigar Night, and the traditional Celtic Night Dinner. Anyone who has been fortunate to have experienced one of his extravagant dinners knows the work that went into both its preparation and presentation. He has worked tirelessly in his fundraising efforts throughout the years.
Leo was very humbled in being selected the Grand Marshal of the 51st Annual Newport Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. He epitomizes the Irish American fabric of the traditional “old Fifth Ward” Irish.
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