ERCOLE FRANCIS LEONE

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ERCOLE FRANCIS LEONE, known as "Eric" by family and friends, passed away on June 22, 2019. For more than three years, Eric boldly fought a long and difficult battle against Lymphoma, but after several months of failing health, he chose quality of life in his remaining days, transitioned to Hospice and died in the comfort of his own home with his beloved wife, Carrie, and daughter Erin by his side.
Eric was born on April 21, 1940, in Erie, Pennsylvania, to his loved and dearly respected mother, Antoinette "Do" (Spirito) Leone, and father, Francesco Antonio Leone (Frank). Eric was raised until his teens with the help of his grandfather, Ercole (Harry) Leone, who taught Eric the joy of growing vegetables for tomato sauce and Summer Salad, and for making wine!
Eric was 100% Italian and personified his namesake, Hercules! He was known for his larger-than-life personality, his amazing low and sexy made-for-radio voice, his tearful laugh, and for his love and dedication to his large and ever-growing family. Never without an opinion, Eric thrived on social interaction and sharing his stories and perspective on life with anyone who might listen. He enjoyed eating Italian food - generally only the kind his mother made - and, of course, that served at Olive Garden. However, he discovered the joy of risotto on his long-awaited trip to Italy where he was introduced to a whole new world of Italian deliciousness...and wine!
Eric also enjoyed watching, listening, reading about and memorizing trivial facts about nearly every sport with the exception of hockey and NASCAR. He was an unyielding fan of all of the Cleveland teams including the Browns, the Indians and the Cavaliers. He was a pilot, a master pool player, and he enjoyed playing golf, bowling, tennis, cards etc., etc., etc. He coached girls' softball both on the field and from the stands, and he was a dedicated fan and expert on all things Elvis, believing to the end that no artist on earth could compare to The King!
Eric had a long and prosperous work history after graduating from the Machinist Apprentice course at GE and obtaining his college degree in Industrial Management from Gannon University in Erie. Eric followed in his father's footsteps by starting his career at GE. He eventually moved to Columbus and worked as a manager at National Electric Coil and eventually came to settle in Minnesota beginning in management at Electric Machinery and moving into a Vice Presidential position at Gemini Inc. In the early 90's, Eric started his own company - L&L Industries in Faribault, MN. L&L manufactured outdoor lettering and Eric was proud to work with customers including Walmart, CVS, UHaul and NAPA before he sold it in 2003 and finished his career as a consultant until he retired in 2008. Even after retirement, Eric kept busy with volunteer work doing taxes for AARP at VINE Faith in Action, and a short stint as a bail bondsman for AAA Bail Bonds in Mankato.
Eric's greatest joy in his retirement, however, was spending time with his littlest grandchildren, and teaching them his trademark whistle, his favorite songs (Give Me a Little Kiss and I Love you a Bushel and a Peck), how to chew on a toothpick, how to give a good high five, and the love of Lollipops and Popsicles! Whenever he would yell out, "Who loves Grandpa? Raise your hand!," every hand in the room would go up!
Eric was a proud and good man! He was a strong patriarch to his family, and a dedicated friend to many. He rarely missed an opportunity to gather with family. He attended most graduations, weddings and funerals, and only once missed the annual Spirito/Lorelli Reunion in nearly 40 years. Our larger-than-life Hercules will be sorely missed by us all!
Eric was preceded in death by his grandparents, his mother and father, his sister, Rose Marie, his one and only son, Frank Joseph Leone, who died shortly after birth, two great-grandchildren, and daughter Sandra's mother, Elinor Grunzel of Erie, PA.
Eric is survived by his beloved wife, Carrie Guinn Marsh Leone of Mankato, MN; and his nine daughters, Donna Marie Thompson (Michael) of Dennison, MN, Laura Jean Caturia (Gene) of Exland, WI, Kimberly Ann Plants (David) of Conneaut, OH, Maryann Christine Leone of Waverly, OH , Erica Lynn Lechleitner (David) of Sheldon, WI, (their mother, Marcia White of Exland, WI), Sandi Jean Tighe (Patrick) of Earlysville, VA, Erin Marie Olson (Cory) of Otsego, MN, (her mother, Millie Leone of Otsego, MN), Cora Estelle Hamann (Ian Hilmer) of Mankato, MN, and Julia Jeanne Hamann of Mankato, MN; 19 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; his sister and her husband, Dolores and Stephen Bebko of Ohio, and his nephews and niece, Stephen Michael Bebko (Katie), Anthony Frank Bebko (Ryan), Vincent Mark Bebko (Krissy), and Maria Louise Yost (Matt); and a host of other beloved cousins, extended family, and dear friends.
All are welcome for visitation on July 1st from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Northview North Mankato Mortuary 2060 Commerce Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003. A celebration of Eric's life is planned to take place there at 7:00 p.m.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated the following day at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 632 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN at 10:30 a.m. with visitation at the church one hour prior to the service. Following the Mass, all are invited to join our family for a luncheon and further remembrance and celebration of Eric's well-lived life.
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Published on June 26, 2019
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Carrie Leone
Jun 24, 2019
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