Leonard James Laudadio was born to James and Mary (Bertucci) Laudadio September 9, 1940, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. He attended Franklin and Jason Lee elementary and middle schools and graduated from Stadium High School in 1958. Immediately following graduation, Leonard joined the Navy and proudly served until honorable discharge in 1963. He cherished his time spent as a Tin Can Sailor onboard the Fletcher-class destroyer, the USS Cowell. After, he returned to his hometown of Tacoma, where he resided for the remainder of his life.
In 1964, he fell in love with and married Francella Blade. Together, they purchased a 1913 dilapidated Badger row tract home in the North End of Tacoma for approximately $10,500. He admitted that at the time of purchase, he marveled at how he would ever pay such a large loan off in his lifetime! Leonard became a truck driver by trade, and he worked diligently at Atlas Foundry for greater than 30 years.
Not only a sailor and truck driver, but Leonard was a recreational pilot as well, flying mostly Cessnas and similar sized aircraft. He quickly retired that hobby when he learned of how common these planes crashed. He was also a lifelong car enthusiast, having even raced cars in his younger years. He thoroughly enjoyed car shows and swap meets and found pure joy in searching for and purchasing classic cars with his son, Jim. Leonard was an avid fisherman, and many Saturday mornings he and his sons woke early to launch his boat at the TOA and spend the day fishing on Commencement Bay. Later, they would pose for pictures with their biggest catch.
Above all else, Leonard was a true family man, deeply devoted to his wife of 58 years, his 6 children, 24 grandchildren, and 18 great grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Francella, his children Jean (Bill) Jackson, Deb Laudadio (Diane Smith), Valerie Oren Stewart, James (Barbara) Laudadio, Joseph Laudadio, and Leonora (Michael) Noonan. His grandchildren are as follows: Aaron (Rachel) Jackson, Adam (Savannah) Jackson, Asa (Rebecca) Jackson, Asher (Amber) Jackson, Abel (Larissa) Jackson, Amos (Kasey) Jackson, Abram (Kaicee) Jackson, Annika (Abel) Smith, Addon Jackson, Cristina Stewart (Jackson Kropp), Roy Blade, Linnea Stewart, Diana Stewart, Daniel Hendricks, Caitlin Hendricks, Alyssa Hendricks, Antonella Laudadio, Annaliese Laudadio, Jessica (Adam) Webber, Jeanelle Laudadio, Jacob Laudadio, Catlynn Laudadio, Brianna Noonan, Makayla Noonan, Filomena Laudadio, and Violetta Laudadio. He is further survived by his great grandchildren who are as follows: Bella Jackson, Conrad Jackson, Arthur Jackson, Max Jackson, Malcolm Jackson, Milo Jackson, Oletta Jackson, Wallace Jackson, Enoch Jackson, Ezra Jackson, Elias Jackson, Declan Jackson, Thaddeus Jackson, Rowynn Jackson, Eadon Baca, Hope Sipes, Noah Baca, and Faith Baca.
Leonard loved his pets and treated them as family, too. In the late 1990’s, Fran noticed a golden retriever that always seemed to wander the parking lot of a grocery store she frequented. Upon asking an employee if anyone knew who the dog belonged to, she learned he was a stray, and coaxed the dog into her car. Leonard at first begrudgingly accepted the new pet who they named Shadow, but it didn’t take long before Shadow and Leonard were best buddies. Shadow grew old and passed as pets do, and Leonard was so grieved to have lost his companion that he replaced Shadow with Bruno, another male golden retriever. After Bruno’s passing, Leonard opted for a female Golden and named her Rosie. Rosie was much more energetic than her male counterparts, and gave Leonard a real run for his money, but she has proven to be a great dog, and she was at Leonard’s side by the hospital bed he laid in up to the bitter end.
In Leonard’s later years, he was very active with many associations, including the Sons of Italy, the Knights of Columbus, and the Holy Names Society, even serving as President. He was a lifelong member of St. Rita’s Catholic Church. In fact, rumor has it that it was his Great Grandfather Bruno who sold a cow to donate towards the purchase of the bell that rings at St. Rita’s today. He was profoundly proud of his Italian heritage, and he extended that pride to his entire family, whether Italian by lineage or not. He loved making homemade biscotti and ravioli every Christmas season, and homemade pizzas with his grandchildren, who he loved dearly. In his pastime he enjoyed gardening, working on crossword puzzles, playing practical jokes, hosting barbecues, and walking his Goldens.
Leonard was a relentlessly hard worker. That old shamble of a house he and Fran purchased in 1964 with the humble conditions and mud backyard, he poured his heart and soul into, taking on continuous remodeling projects and completely relandscaping the front and backyards. In true Italian fashion, his lot boasted fruit trees (at different times, cherry, apple, pear, peach, and fig to name a few), tomato and parsley plants, and grapevines galore. He also planted innumerable vegetable gardens perfectly rowed and flower baskets adorned his front and back porch. Leonard had a unique gift of leaving everything he encountered better than he had found it, whether it be the places he lived or the people he loved.
As all marriages do, Leonard and Fran encountered times of ebb and flow, and during a particularly difficult season of their lives they happened to attend a Billy Graham crusade. Leonard was deeply moved, and this became a pivotal point in his life. Although he had been raised Catholic, he only sporadically attended mass, and more times than not he stayed home when Fran would take their children to First Presbyterian Church. Leonard made the decision that he would return to St. Rita’s for weekly mass. In response, Fran affirmed that she too would become Catholic and attend with him. Since she had been married before, it was no small feat. She had to have her first marriage, which had ended greater than 20 years earlier, annulled. They worked through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) together, and their marriage and lives were completely transformed for the better.
It seems like more and more, Integrity is becoming just a word, and no one understands its meaning, but Leonard manifested integrity in all aspects of his life. He was a true man of his word. The day he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he stated that his one and only wish was to live just one day longer than his wife, so he could know she was cared for. Throughout his rounds of treatments, which he endured for almost a year, he never once complained or even admitted pain. In fact, he only began to take daily pain medication the final week of his life. His final words before laying down for his eternal rest were, “Make sure to wake me up in 15 to 20 minutes!” His work ethic, dedication, and strength of character were profoundly evident to all, even up to his final breath.
Leonard passed away in his home with family by his side. His absence in this world leaves all that knew and loved him with a massive void in our hearts. But we find solace in knowing that his presence will continue through the legacy of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. When sponsoring his daughter through the RCIA, during a class Fr. Sacco was teaching in St. Rita’s basement, Fr. Sacco asked the question of what it was that Jesus came to leave us. Many assumed it was eternal life, but Leonard quietly asked, “Was it peace, Father?” and Fr. Sacco smiled. May the Peace of Christ be with us all as we mourn the great loss of our friend, father, grandfather, great grandfather, husband, and brother in Christ, Leonard Laudadio.
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