William H. “Harry” Leyland, age 85, of Butler, passed away Wednesday, January 10, 2018, at Butler Memorial Hospital.
Harry was born January 13, 1932 in Butler, a son of the late Joseph and Agnes Slater Leyland.
He was employed at Butler Armco for 40 years, retiring in 1994 as a roll grinder.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Harry served during the Korean Conflict.
He was a member of Saint Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church.
He is survived by his wife, Louise Galante Leyland, whom he married on March 13, 1954; seven children, Michael Leyland and his wife, Mary, of Westerville, OH, John Leyland, of Ann Arbor, MI, Denise D’Amore and her husband, John, of Butler, Marguerite McLaughlin and her husband, John, of Butler, Lisa McConnell and her husband, Tom, of Indiana, PA, Hank Leyland and his wife, Terry, of Butler, and Dana Leyland, of Butler; one brother, Victor Leyland (Gerry, deceased), of Trenton, MI.; two sisters, Margaret Stehney (Paul deceased), of Pittsburgh, and Gail Beitl and her husband, Roy, of Canonsburg, PA.
Also surviving are twenty-one grandchildren, Nate Leyland and his wife, Anne; Michael Leyland II and his wife, Jenny; Greg Leyland and his wife, Mandi; Nick Leyland and his wife, Michelle; Colin Leyland and his wife, Bree; Amanda Leyland; Lindsey Leyland; Daniel D’Amore; Aaron D’Amore; Michelina D’Amore; Taylor Molitierno and her husband, Dave; Mason, McLaughlin; Morgan McLaughlin; Tommy McConnell II and his wife, Jill; Ashley Stanco and her husband, Christian; Brother Peter Theresa McConnell; Luke McConnell; Chris McConnell; Mary McConnell; Trevor Leyland and his wife, Christy; and Levi Leyland;
twenty-eight great-grandchildren, Max Leyland, Sean Reagin; Emma, Michael III and Isabella Leyland; Riley McHale; Lucia, Jules and Kian Leyland; Aiden Leyland; Aricely, Nola and Gabriel Cobos; Maria, Tommy III, Lilah, Silas, Harry and Leo McConnell; Salvatore and Massimo Stanco; Braylon Littlejohn; Isla, Willem, Eloise, Cora and Maren Leyland.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph (“Ted” Dilts (deceased) and Agnes, his Aunt Ethel Milsom (Robert, deceased), two brothers, Joseph (Joyce) and John (Carol); two sisters, Loretta Leyland and Dolores “Mickey” Fruit (John); two grandchildren, Emily Leyland and Calvin Littlejohn; and one great-granddaughter, Francesca Molitierno.
Harry was well known in the Butler community for his role in developing the youth of Butler through his coaching of football and basketball. For his over 50 years of accomplishments, he was inducted into the Butler Sports Hall of Fame and Butler Hometown Heroes.
He left everything better than he found it:
His contributions extended beyond the athletic arena, however. He was an activist for broader educational opportunities and job creation. He ran and was elected to the Butler Area School Board. He championed the development and implementation of the Vocational/Technical program at the Butler High School.
He taught physical education, on a voluntary basis, at St. Michael’s school and implemented the John F Kennedy fitness program for youth during that time. He also schooled some of the older boys in the “sweet science” for extra credit. He always left a duffle bag of sports equipment on the front porch for any Southside kid who wanted to play basketball, football or softball at the playground to borrow any time they wanted. Just asked that they return it.
Harry and his wife Louise were major participants in every charitable dinner or fund raising event held at St. Michael’s Church and School for over 60 years. Many improvements to the facilities at these locations or the Gym at Butler Catholic (named after him in 2012) were driven by his tremendous focus to make things better.
He was a member of the founding group of the Butler 10K Race and worked relentlessly on this to make it a great experience for all (including running in it very competitively for his age group).
Harry was a leader in building a consolidated basketball program at Butler Catholic School in 1969. He became a well-known and respected member of the coaching community in the Pittsburgh Diocesan League and was recognized by many, even years after his retirement from coaching. He was responsible for equipment safety and changing over to safer helmets in the Butler Midget Football league. Many tags were sold and numerous weekly raffles held to make this happen. Led many improvement efforts to the grounds and buildings at the Memorial Park location.
He served as the Butler Cubs Athletic Association president and led the revitalization of the club. In addition to serving it’s many long-time members better, it was then used to host many basketball events. Under his leadership, a significant Boxing program was also developed there and many of the fighters moved into higher competition as a result.
Harry was a lifelong learner. He was a self-taught electrician and plumber. He ran a side business that he took over from his father, fixing washers and dryers. He only charged what people could afford and sometimes came home after a long hard day with only a pie. He was relentless in his studies of coaching and leading. He learned to play the piano after his retirement. He was teaching until the end of his life. Memories of him and lessons learned will keep us strong.
He enjoyed playing with and walking his various canine friends over the years, Bugger (legend of South Side), Bree the Walker and fun loving Coco. His hunting friends at Armco claimed that Bugger was the only dog trained to hunt from the back of a moving station wagon. Harry also loved to golf with his close friends (and daughter Dana) as well as in the St. Michael’s league and the VFW League at Stoughton’s Golf Course.
Harry’s life was focused on his love of Family and his great faith in God and the work of the Church. He and Louise were presented with the “Manifesting God’s Kingdom” honor, awarded by Bishop Wuerl in 2001. He was also God-father/Confirmation Sponsor to many; both family members and young people who looked up to him. He was a great husband and father. His great heart, dedication and sense of humor will be missed by all who knew him.
Friends will be received in the Martin Funeral Home, Inc., 429 Center Avenue, Butler, on Saturday from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday at 1 p.m. from Saint Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, 432 Center Avenue, Butler.
Burial will take place in Saint Michael’s Cemetery.
Military Honors will be accorded by American Legion Post 117, VFW Post 249 and American Legion Post 778.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to Saint Michael Roman Catholic Church, 432 Center, Ave., Butler, PA 16001; Butler Catholic School, 515 East Locust Street, Butler, PA 16001; or to EWTN, 5817 Old Leeds Rd., Irondale, AL 35210.