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Beloved Running Icon Tommy Leonard Passes at 85

We got the news from longtime Tommy Leonard friend and benefactor Russ Pelletier of Falmouth that running’s “Goodwill Ambassador” Tommy Leonard took his last breath on Wednesday night.

Not enough words available to illustrate what a prince of a man and worldly friend to the running community (especially during his days tending the sticks at the Eliot Lounge runner’s watering hole( that Tommy was…but we’ll try in the next issue of New England Runner.

With permission, Toni Reavis has alllowed us to reprint a quick remembrance from his running blog below.

(Photo: Tommy Leonard with Bob Hodge in Falmouth’s Liam Maguire’s following the (2013-2014?) NER Pub Series stop at Liam Maguire’s Almost 5-Miler. Photo by FitzFoto/NERunner)

Tommy Leonard

by Toni Reavis

The great Tommy Leonard passed from our midst yesterday at home in Falmouth, Massachusetts at age 85. The beloved founder of the Falmouth Road Race and long-time bartender at Boston’s legendary Eliot Lounge, Tommy was the patron saint of running to thousands of people around the globe.
Tommy’s dear friend Russ Pelletier sent the following note last night.

“Just want to let you know that he never lost his sense of humor. I was with him yesterday afternoon. It was obvious that he was at the end of the line.
Around the bed were three women on the JML staff and myself. He was having difficulty breathing and couldn’t speak. But we knew he could hear us.
So I told him, “Tommy, no matter what the situation, you always have young ladies taking care of you”.
I couldn’t hear his reply, but the nurse closest to him did. I asked, “What did he say?”. She looked at me and said, “I have the best seat in the house”.
He went out on his own terms.”
*
Thanks to Russ for bringing one last Tommy-made smile to our faces.

We loved him dearly not just for our shared love of running, but for his selflessness and generosity of spirit. TL’s contributions were incalculable, and not just to the running community.

He and fellow Back Bay barkeep at the Bull & Finch Pub (the Cheers bar on TV) Eddie Doyle raised funds for causes far and wide through the years. And though he had grown up in an orphanage, Tommy created a world-wide family with his impish Irish charm and full-out embracing laugh. Today, we mourn his passing from a world where such character and traits seem increasingly anachronistic.

Now TL is off on his next great adventure beyond the powder-puff clouds and twinkling Vineyard Sound to make God laugh, angels, weep, and more people than we can possibly count happy in heaven.

Bless you, Tommy Leonard, your light will continue to shine through to show us the way.

“With Tommy Leonard tending taps,
The guru in his lair,
Every runner’s true best friend,
With a heart big enough to share.”

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