Charles J. Leigh, 95, of Oneida, passed away Monday, November 4, 2019 at the Oneida Healthcare Center ECF.
He was born January 12, 1924, in Oneida, the son of the late Claude and Maria Roehm Leigh. He was a graduate of Oneida High School and the Utica School of Commerce.
Charles was an “Army of the United States” veteran of WW II. He served as a Combat Flight Officer and Navigator. A Navigator is defined as one who navigates a plane over land and sea by use of pilotage, celestial, dead reckoning and radio, checks navigation equipment prior to a flight and keeps records and forms. Charles served with the 415th Bombardment Squadron and the 98th Bombardment Group and served in the Mediterranean, European, African and Middle Eastern Theaters. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Unit Badge with one Oak Leaf Cluster and was awarded the Medal for Conspicuous Service Cross as a Second Lieutenant and a Ribbon with one Battle Participation Star.
On June 22, 1957, he married Shirley LeClau. She passed away September 13, 1991. Mr. Leigh was employed for 33 years as a rural letter carrier for the Oneida Post Office and for 20 years served with the US Air Force Reserves, retiring in 1984 at the rank of Major.
He was a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, the Owls Nest #1606, the American Legion Post #169 and the square dance group “Buttons and Beaux”. Charles enjoyed traveling with his longtime friend, Bill Burns, taking long walks and gardening. “Papa” as he was known by all his children and grandchildren will forever be in their hearts and remembered for his quick smile and laugh.
He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Randall and Cathy Leigh of Oneida; 7 grandchildren, Chelsea Leigh, Carrie (Jason) Carrier, Kimberly (Jason) White, Candice (Matthew) Malbouf, Jeremy (Paige) Irving, Nicholas DeMauro and Katie DeMauro (and friend James Cooper); 13 great grandchildren, with one on the way; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son, Charles Douglas Leigh; two daughters, Katherine Irving and Stacie DeMauro; his great-granddaughter, MacKenzie; his brother, Claude “Bud” Leigh; and his sister, Doris Wood.
Funeral services will be Saturday at 12 pm at Coolican-McSweeney Funeral Home, 322 Washington Ave., Oneida, with Rev. Abigail Browka officiating. Calling hours will be Saturday from 10 am-12 pm, prior to the service. Interment with Military Honors will follow in Valley View Cemetery, Oneida.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to American Heart Association.
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