NAUGATUCK — Leroy S. Smith, 70, passed away on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, at his home.
Leroy was born July 15, 1950, in Waterbury, the son of Mary (Byrne) Smith and the late Francis “Red” Smith. He was a lifelong Naugatuck resident, where he graduated from Naugatuck High School, Class of 1969. He worked for many years as a firefighter for the Borough of Naugatuck until his retirement in 1998.
Leroy was always active in the community, a talented basketball player all through his youth, Lee went on to take great joy and pride in coaching and mentoring the youth in the community. One of his most proud moments was leading the Buckmiller’s basketball team to win the championship. In his mind coaching went beyond winning a game, he took many players into his life and under his wing in whatever capacity they needed.
Leroy started his family at a young age, and becoming a father was the thing he valued most. Always mindful of spending quality time with his children, they enjoyed many happy memories of camping in Watertown at their beloved cottage, vacationing in Rhode Island and coaching his daughters throughout their childhood. A true sports enthusiast, all of his favorite teams were from Pittsburgh: the Pirates, Penguins and most importantly the Steelers, due to listening to radio personality Bob Steele as a child. He traveled several times with his family to Pittsburgh to see the Steelers. His most recent trip was particularly fulfilling, a bucket list road trip back to Pittsburgh in which he had time of his life watching the Steelers defeat the Colts with his grandchildren and children by his side.
His knowledge of sports was impressive, he could rattle off sports statistics quicker than you could Google the answer. Long after he could play himself and had retired from coaching, you could find him simultaneously watching three to four sporting events, yet the most exciting to him out of all of this was watching his grandchildren participate in football, cheerleading and baseball. Dad never missed a game if he could help it, and if he couldn’t be there cheering on the sidelines he was on the line getting updates, telling us what the coach should be doing.
He had countless friends from all walks of life having been very involved with the YMCA, serving 27 years on the fire department and in his retirement enjoyed rekindling old friendships with the good old boys at Sullivan’s. Known for his quick and comical wit, typically the life of the party, his close friends and family also were blessed to know the more traditional side of his personality. The unconventional patriarch of the family; he was the man to call if you had a problem, the devoted son and caretaker for his mother, Mary, loyal friend who could make you laugh like no other, a proud father and fun loving grandfather. Leroy believes the most important thing in life to focus on is relationships with other people, and second chances. Please honor him by paying it forward and participating in one small random act of kindness today. Visit with an old friend, forgive a wrong or make an effort to help someone you don’t even know.
Besides his mother, Leroy is survived by his daughters, Carrie Ellis her companion, Stacy Sacharko, of Meriden and Jennifer Nielsen of Wolcott; his beloved grandchildren, Jacob, Jessica, Reid and Brady; as well as his cat, Bella; the mother of his children, Kathleen Forstrom; son-in-law, Sean Nielsen; and all the members of The Schaefer and Lennon families. He also honored and cherished his son-in-law and dear friend, Scott Ellis, who passed away in 2017.
A funeral Mass for Leroy will be held on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, with the funeral procession leaving the Alderson-Ford Funeral Home of Naugatuck, 201 Meadow St., at 11 a.m. and proceeding to St. Francis of Assisi Church for Mass at 11:30 a.m. Burial will follow in St. James Cemetery. Visitation for Leroy will be held on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Naugatuck Firefighters Local 1219 Sunshine Club, P.O. Box 571, Naugatuck, CT 06770, or the Naugatuck YMCA Little Pal Basketball, www.naugatuckymca.org/little-pal-basketball.
For online condolences, to share a photo or a story, visit www.fordfh.com.