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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

Leonard (Len) Owsiany

Leonard (Len) Owsiany

Photograph courtesy of
Terry Owsiany McHugh, daughter, Palm Bay, FL.

Leonard (Len) Owsiany

(A biographical sketch contributed by Leonard's daughter, Terry Owsiany McHugh, Palm Bay, FL)

Leonard Owsiany 
April 1,1923-November 27, 1997

Born on April 1,1922 Leonard (Len) became the last son born to Agnes Belcyk Owsiany and Walter Owsiany He was brother to John, Reds, Eddie, Emil, Frank, Stella, Mary and Clara (Virgie) Owsiany. The Owsiany family resided on McIlvain St in Chester, Pa. Leonard remained a life long Chester resident.

Leonard served in the Army Air Corp during WWII. He was stationed in England during the time of the Buzz Bombs and also spent time in Germany after the Liberation where he had the opportunity to see Dachau. He told about seeing handprints on the walls in the camp “de-lousing” buildings, about seeing the ovens and how those images haunted him. He received the Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge, European Campaign Medal, Six Bronze Stars and the World War II Victory Medal.

On Halloween 1947 he met Sarah Ann (Sally) DieVart and they married on February 12, 1948 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on 2nd and Norris. Len and Sally began their married life in McCaffrey Village and later moved to 2901 W 7th St.; where they lived until his death. Len and Sally raised 10 children in that house: Leonard Joseph, Robert Thomas, Julia Ann, James Arthur, Michael David, Mary Louise, Theresa Marie, Loretta Frances, Lawrence Edward and Christine Elizabeth. 

Len worked at Scott Paper Company for 35 years until his retirement in 1984.

He lost his own parents during the war. Not being able to be with his family at the time of their deaths was painful for him. He often would speak of his mother as a good, loving mother, and his father as a very strict father. He was especially close to his brothers and sisters and they all had a special relationship with sister Mary. She had Down Syndrome and was everyone’s darling. She was special to everyone, and the effect she had on Len’s life was a permanent one. He was always very kind and compassionate to anyone with a handicap.

My father was a simple man. He never aspired to own a big house or take vacations. He loved growing up in Chester and raising his family there. He was a generous man who extended his heart and his hand to all people. He was compassionate and understanding and expected the same of others. His friends and the friends of his children became family.

One of his greatest pleasures in life was music. He loved to sing, and although he only did it at home he had a very good voice. Frank Sinatra was his favorite. His children grew up listening to Frank, the big bands and of course Polkas. 

The backyard at 2901 W 7th St. was one of his favorite places to be. He loved having friends and family over for picnics, graduation celebrations and just simple days watching the kids in the tiny pool, making sure they had a tent (made from blankets and clothespins) to block the sun. When he wasn’t in the backyard he was in the basement. He was forever re-organizing it. He was later elected by his children to be the official packer whenever one of them would move.

He was the very proud grandfather to 33 grandchildren and took delight in every single one. He loved to give raspberry kisses and one of his greatest pleasures was to dance with his granddaughters.

He lost all but two of his brothers and sisters before his death, and as sad as those times were, nothing prepared him for the loss of his son Michael. Michael was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 36. It was without a doubt the saddest day in his life, and he never really recovered from it.

Len and Sally were married for 49 years. When Christine (the baby of the family) was married a special dance was dedicated to them. They danced to “When this old wedding ring was new” As they spun around the floor, my father serenaded my mother the whole time, never taking his eyes off her face. There was not a dry eye to be found.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27th, 1997 he had dinner at Loretta’s house with other family present as well. At his turn at the table to give thanks he said, “ I am grateful to be here with all of you” Shortly after arriving back home later that night, he was stricken with a heart attack and before the paramedics could arrive he was gone. But before he died he gave my mother the greatest gift anyone could give: he was able to tell her that he loved her. He is buried along with his son Michael at Immaculate Heart Cemetery in Linwood.

Duane Stephens adds this wonderful recollection about his friend and co-worker:

"I think the biographical sketch about Len Owsiany is wonderful. His daughter Terry did a great job describing her father. I worked with Len at Scott Paper for many many years and was glad to have him as a member of our crew. He was a very skilled worker and was always striving to do his best . 

One day Len asked me if I would help him move a new sofa, he had just purchased, into his home. I liked Len and he was my friend so of course I was eager to help.

We were taking the sofa through the front door when all of a sudden it popped open. Unknown to me it was a "sofa-bed" and now we were stuck half in and half out of his front door. As we were trying to figure out our next move, I noticed a group of folks standing out on the front sidewalk watching us. I mentioned to Len that people were staring at us. Len peeked out and said to me "that's not people, that's my kids."

Well, we both started to laugh and almost dropped the sofa. Somehow, we got the thing folded up and into the house."

- Duane Stephens, Dts2390@cs.com






If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about individuals in Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

© 2002 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 02/24/07