Joe Leahy

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2008

Former Juneau resident Michael Joseph "Joe" Leahy died Dec. 6 at Providence Valdez Medical Center. He was 68.

Born Nov. 3, 1940, in Mason City, Wash., to Patrick and Clara Leahy, he graduated from Grand Coulee High School in 1958 and married Marilyn Mroz on Nov. 25, 1981, in Seattle.

He came to Alaska in 1976 while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard as chief journalist. After his discharge, he worked as the director of the Juneau Mining Museum, then as the director of the Juneau Centennial Museum.

In 1985, Joe and Marilyn moved to Valdez, where he served as the executive director of the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive. Upon retiring from that position, he returned to Juneau for four years at the request of Hoonah Heritage Foundation, serving as the development director of the foundation's proposed heritage center and museum.

His love of people led him to serve on numerous boards and associations such as Valdez United Way, Copper Valley Electric Association, the State Parks Commission, the Alaska Historical Society and the Museums Alaska Association. He was the unofficial town greeter for Valdez, prowling the docks, grocery store and post office and regaling visitors and residents alike with tidbits of history and a gentle wit.

"Joe's greatest enthusiasm was for his family," relatives said.

He was astounded and delighted at the birth of his triplets - Patrick, Elise and Christopher - and then again with his bonus child, Marissa.

In retirement, he was an avid and talented photographer, loved to fish and was an enthusiastic rower, his family said.

He is survived by: his wife, Marilyn Leahy; sons, Patrick and Christopher Leahy; daughters, Elise and Marissa Leahy; and brothers, Bill Leahy and wife, Judy, and Gary Leahy.

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