YONKERS, NY — February 12, 2019 — Leonard N. Spano, former Westchester County Clerk and longtime County Legislator, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family early Sunday morning. Born on August 5, 1930 to Nicholas and Mary Spano, Leonard was one of four children who grew up in southwest Yonkers.
He attended St. Peter’s School and worked alongside his father, who emigrated from Italy, learning the family’s ice and coal business. When refrigeration prevailed, the business became the Spano Fuel Company where Leonard worked as a licensed oil-burner installer and then as vice president of the company.
He enlisted in the US Marine Corps at the age of 19 and served for three years during the Korean Conflict before being honorably discharged. Leonard met his wife, Josephine Scott, at the age of 18 and the two married in 1952. Their first child, Nicholas, was born in 1953 and by 1975, Leonard and Josephine were parents to 16 children.
Leonard became interested in public service in 1967 when he unsuccessfully ran for the Westchester County Board of Supervisors. Undeterred, he ran again in 1971 and won a seat on the Westchester County Board of Legislators where he continued to serve the 14th District in Yonkers until 1993 when he was elected Westchester County Clerk. He held that position until 2005 when he retired.
In a 1996 New York Times article, Leonard attributed his success to his strong family roots, saying, “I attribute my winning elections to the good name that was made by my father and his brothers. They didn’t have any education. But they knew the value of friendship, respect and hard work.”
During his 34 years in elected office, Leonard helped shape policy in Westchester County. As Budget Chairman of the County Board of Legislators, he was instrumental in transforming the Westchester Medical Center into the tertiary care facility that serves the Hudson Valley today. He also spearhead Westchester’s Handgun Record-Keeping Accountability Act as County Clerk, which improved the process of tracking legally obtained handguns in Westchester County.
After his retirement, Leonard remained active in many local organizations, including the Sons of Italy and the Westchester School for Special Children, where he was a Board Member. He also served on St. Joseph’s Board of Trustees, he was Past President of the Shomokin Rod and Gun Club and a lifelong member of the NRA. Leonard was a longtime parishioner of Mt. Carmel Church on Park Hill Avenue in Yonkers.
He will be remembered as a family man, devoted to his wife and children, and committed to family traditions including his annual mass in honor of St. Gerard Majella, summer vacations in Mastic Beach, yearly boys trips to Phoenicia in the Catskills, and time spent with family in Fort Lauderdale. Leonard is survived by his cherished wife of 66 years, Josephine, and his children Nicholas (Linda), John (Evelyn), MariaElena, Eleanore, Leonard (Deidra), Joanne (Vincent Finnegan), Rosemarie (Christopher Gannon), Camille, Michael (Mary), Victoria (Thomas Smith), Anthony (Eva), Dolores (Richard Wilson), Loretta, Gerard, Joseph (Rosalie), and Vincent (Jaime), as well as 42 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Rosemary DeStaso, and his brothers John Spano, and Michael Spano and dozens of nieces and nephews.
Friends may call at the Sinatra Memorial Home, Inc, 499 Yonkers Avenue on Monday and Tuesday from 3pm to 8pm.
Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday 11AM at St. Mary’s Church, Yonkers. Entombment to follow at Mount Hope Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Westchester School for Special Children, 45 Park Avenue, Yonkers 10703 in his memory.