Dec. 4, 1920 – Jan. 13, 2018
Alphonse F. Leising died in a hospital he helped build nearly seven decades ago.
He was in his 20s at the time, a carpenter, and his relationship with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Bailey Avenue didn't end then.
Decades later, Mr. Leising, a World War II veteran, found himself a patient at the VA. He died there Saturday at the age of 97.
Born on a farm in Swormsville, one of nine children, Mr. Leising worked on some of the region's biggest construction projects, including the VA and the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston. He also built homes in the post-war building boom that took place in the Town of Tonawanda.
Later, Mr. Leising was hired by WGR-TV, predecessor to WGRZ, to build sets used on the station's news programs.
Throughout his life, Mr. Leising was an active supporter of his brother, the Rev. Edmund N. Leising, a missionary priest who gained national attention for his work with the poor in Brazil right up until his death six years ago at the age of 92.
One of Leising's other brothers, William, was also a missionary priest who became known for his love of flying and work in the northern Arctic regions of Canada. The Rev. William Leising wrote a book, "Arctic Wings," about his life as a flying priest.
During World War II, Mr. Leising enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and served in England, refueling bombers, during the war.
When he returned to the area, he married the former Marie Griese in 1946 and together they had six children. Mrs. Leising died in 2007, just a year after celebrating the couple's 60th anniversary.
A member of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church in Cheektowaga the past 60 years, Mr. Leising was a fixture in the neighborhood around the church and, up until a year ago, was still riding his bicycle and helping neighbors with chores around their houses.
Mr. Leising is survived by three daughters, Margaret Kohlbrenner, Mary Wagner and Catherine, three sons, Peter, Paul and John; three sisters, Sister Dorothy, Sister Blanche, Sister Florence, SSND,; and 17 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Aloysius Gonzaga, 157 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga.