UXBRIDGE — Leo E. DiDonato, 100, a retired property developer, died Sunday July 7, peacefully at his home in Uxbridge.
He is survived by his long time companion and fiancé, Charlene Kennan, son Richard DiDonato and his wife, Janice of Webster, brother Jeremiah DiDonato and his longtime companion Muriel of Webster, sister-in-law, Gayle DiDonato of Dudley, daughter-in-law, Viginia DiDonato of Dudley, grandchildren Debra Tagg and husband Michael of Charlton, Pamela O’Sullivan and husband Michael of Shrewsbury and Jeffrey DiDonato of Dudley and four great-grandchildren, Nicholas and Kristin Tagg and Julia and John O’Sullivan.
He is pre-deceased by wife, Pearl Ryan, son, Leonard, brothers Tony, Pat and Sam, sisters, Carol Dellomo, Rose Dufries and Clara and Armenia DiDonato.
Leo was born on October 12, 1918 on Williams Street, Worcester. He began working in construction for his father, Emil, and later for A. Mason & Son and Clifford Hall.
In World War II, Leo served his country from 1943 to 1945 in the Pacific Theater as Carpenter’s Mate First Class in the United States Navy Constuction Battalion (SeaBees) and found himself on the island of Iwo Jima. His unit was involved in building and maintaining the island’s airstrip used for refueling. He earned the Asiatic Pacific, American Area & World War II Victory Medals & Seabees shoulder insignia.
In 1945, he returned to construction and in August, 1946, started his own business, Leo DiDonato Plastering and Masonry. Later he built single and multi-family houses as Leo DiDonato Builders. Eventually larger projects and developments led to Leo DiDonato Developers during which time he constructed a series of drive-in theaters stretching from Boston to the Cape and into Rhode Island.
He was a member of several civic organizations, including the Knights of Columbus (3rd and 4th Degree), was President of the Holy Name Society and Vice President of the St. Vincent DePaul Organization. Leo was Chairman of the Webster Housing Authority, Chairman of the Industrial Development Financial Authority, appointed by Governor Volpe to the Zoning Board of Elevator Appeals and member of the American Legion and VFW. Leo was honored (with his brothers) as Webster Man of the Year in 1986 and as Grand Marshall of the Webster/Dudley Memorial Day Parade in 2008.
As a youth, he was actively involved in basketball and baseball. He is especially proud of having competed in the 1932 and 1933 Oxford to Webster Marathon in which he finished 6th and 7th even though he was only thirteen years of age, three years under the age limit for the race.
Leo had a life-long love of golf that began when he was a golf caddy and continued throughout his life playing golf at many area courses.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held 11 AM on Thursday, July 11 at St. Louis Church, 14 Lake St., Webster. Burial will be in Corbin Cemetery, Dudley. Calling hours will be Wednesday, July 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bartel Funeral Home & Chapel, 33 Schofield Ave., Dudley. The Webster-Dudley Veterans Council will provide military honors.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Uxbridge Fire/EMS Department, 25 South Main Street, Uxbridge, MA 01569.